We visited Alnwick Gardens, the Duchess of Northumberland’s visionary garden in late June, a floral dip time for many. We were in Northumberland primarily for a walking holiday, staying in Alnmouth on the coast. The beach is incredibly beautiful, just a few miles from the town and home of Alnwick garden and castle.
On to contemporary Alnwick on Sunday, where dogs are not allowed, a whistle stop tour, whilst Archie was cared for by my daughter and treated to another Northumberland walk – he did not complain. I had read a little before we visited and had watched a documentary some years ago on the building of the Grand Cascade, so felt excited to visit.
Jacques and his son Peter Wirtz, garden designers from Belgium are creating the garden, Flanked by clipped Hornbeam tunnels, the Grand Cascade is the central show stopper. Every half hour fountains erupt and dance down the cascade culminating in a last hurrah in the pool at the bottom, all of this lasting 10 minutes then all is calm again. People picnic on the lawn in front, or eat in the vast pavilion which looks across and up the cascade, children play on enormous tractors, it looked fun. We drank coffee sitting in the pavilion watching and wishing our children were small again.
Across the lawns and onto the Poison Garden tour, behind locked gates and a fundraiser by donation to the Alnwick Garden Trust drug awareness work, school parties are also invited and from there the aim is discussion on the dangers of drugs.
A walk to the top of the Grand Cascade revealed the large formal garden. Pleached crab apples and iron uprights provided the balance to borders of Delphiniums and Roses. Along the surrounding walls more borders of perennials, no dip time here and more roses looking fabulous.
We moved onto the Rose Garden abundant with well yes Roses. Everywhere Roses of all shapes sizes and colours. Don’t get me wrong I love Roses, but was a tad overwhelmed and really wanted all of the other people to go away so I could enjoy them on my own.
We walked onto the Cherry Orchard, where a gentle path winds up through the Cherry trees. Too late in the year to enjoy the blossom of 350 Great White Cherrys, underplanted with 50,000 Purple Sensation Alliums and thousands of ‘Pink Mistress’ Tulips. Late April and May is the time to go.
Alnwick have appointed a man from Disney into the marketing team, his influence was clear, thats not a criticism, I get it, running these large gardens cost a great deal of money and positively encouraging and including children is a good move. A glance at their website reveals his influence, water pistol days throughout the summer holidays for one. But also a balance, lots of music and art. I have started to volunteer with a horticultural therapy project and was really interested to learn Alnwick have several similar projects running in the garden. Alnwick castle, next door and a separate entrance fee to the gardens is also known as the Hogwarts castle as it was used as a location for a couple of the Harry Potter films. There is a wonderful albeit disneyfied tree house restaurant with children firmly in mind. Alnwick has enjoyed some controversy, mainly over its build cost and not everyone likes it but its a garden for all ages and if you love Roses, its certainly worth a visit.
From the many rose photographs I could not choose a favourite, so decided to add just one. The Garden is open all year round and I can recommend the coffee!