U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8b. Sunset climate zone 5

Arundel Castle Gardens - May 2015

I can certainly say that these Gardens are among my all-time favorites.
I knew nothing about them. They were recommended to us by my husband's colleague when we planned our May trip to Europe. 
Hidcote Manor Garden was already on the list, and I needed one more garden to visit while we were in London.
Now, thinking back, I believe that an absence of any expectations was one of the reasons I got so excited about the Arundel Castle Gardens. 
Knew nothing, read nothing, heard nothing. It was a total surprise!

The other reason why we had a great visit was the fact that, while strolling through the Gardens, we happened to meet the Head Gardener. 
The day was coming to the end, we were almost alone and I asked a person who was watering the plants a question. 
That person was Martin Duncan, the Head Gardener, who not only answered our questions but also gave us a tour of the Flower and Kitchen Gardens. 
Those Gardens, actually, became my favorites. We'll see them in the second part of this post. 
To reach these Gardens, we needed to go through the Collector Earl's Garden opened by Charles, Prince of Wales, in 2008.

Arundel Castel in West Sussex, founded in 1067 and rebuilt in 1870-1890, is one of England's longest inhabited country houses and the second largest castle in England.
Having very limited time, we couldn't enjoy its impressive Gothic architecture, but we certainly would like to tour it in the future.

The Collector Earl's Garden (designers Isabel and Julian Bannerman) shows what a formal garden around the Castle could be in the time of Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel, an avid art collector (1585-1646).
That garden was designed in the beginning of the 17th century by Inigo Jones (1573-1652, English painter, architect and designer who founded the English classical tradition of architecture).

Formal as formal can be, the Garden has a certain warmth and do I dare say coziness thanks to the structures made from green oak wood.
Sophisticated, intricate -yes, but, made not from stone or brick but rustic wood, it made me think about fairy tales.
Pergola, pavilions, gateways, obelisks, benches, even grand scaled urns are made from wood. A fantasy, a set for some theatrical show - this was my first impression of the garden.
Learning that The Collector Earl's Garden was created on the spot of a concrete car park made me appreciate it even more.

Tulips in Italian clay containers almost finished blooming, but I saw them on the Internet pictures  - they are stunning!
I also wish I could see these containers later planted with Agapanthus (Lilies of the Nile).

From what I found on the Internet, green oak means an oak with a high moisture content, 
timber that is freshly cut from relatively new fallen trees.
Isn't it beautiful?

Too ornamental? Too 'over board'? Well, this is how it was meant to be!
Gateways and pavilions are based on Inigo Jones' designs for Arundel House.
The domed pergola and fountains are based on those presented in the painting of the Countess of Arundel by Daniel Mytens.

Wikimedia Commons

High old brick walls serve as a great background for the variety of plants and help keep many semitropical and exotic plants safe in winter which, fortunately, is typically mild.
Bamboos, Phoenix canariensis (Date palm), Butia capitata (Pindo palm), Catalpa bignonioides (Indian bean tree which doesn't come from India and doesn't have beans), Papaya, Magnolia grandiflora, Dracaena draco, rare ferns - border of these plants with the European architecture in the background is stunning!

Some tender plants were still protected from cold in the middle of May

Oberon's Palace sits on the rockwork hill with two green oak obelisks on its sides. It's surrounded by lash greenery, including palms and ferns.
Green with algae, grotto with shell and mosaic pannos has a special treasure - a crown, rising/dancing on the jet of water.


As residents of the Pacific Northwest, we are familiar with stump gardening. Stumperies are getting popular in Washington state,  but to see a stump garden at this ancient castle in England was a total surprise.
As Martin Duncan said, this relatively new addition to the garden is just 3 years old.
It replaced a piece of lawn.

Stumps, collected from the Norfolk Estate, are underplanted with euphorbia, hellebore, ferns, primroses, foxgloves, cowslips, bluebells.
Perfect place for wildlife! I heard that hedgehogs live here!

Not exactly your traditional yew hedge. It looks good, especially when you look at the Gothic turrets nearby.

This piece is still a work in progress...

Through the window in the hedge, I saw a beautiful herbaceous border.
But, it was one more surprise on the way toward it....

.... a Vegetable Garden! Working vegetable garden!
You can take a girl out of the village, but you can't take the village out of the girl!
I felt that it was beautiful!

This is where we met the Head Gardener.

Martin Duncan has been working at the Arundel Castle Gardens for 6 years.
His experience as a gardener and a landscape designer includes working in Bermuda, France, private English gardens, botanical gardens, the King of Jordan's Garden and others.

The vegetable garden itself, with its healthy plants and smart plant supports, was exciting,
but to see it with a majestic background was a pure delight!

If I would be a scarecrow, I'd like to live here!

How wonderful it is: stone and wood, massiveness of the building and lightness of twigs, 
sophistication of architecture and simplicity of garden structures... Contrasts, contrasts, contrasts...

Dense carpet of cheerful Limnanthes douglasii (poached egg plant, Douglas' meadowfoam)

Branch towers made me think about Thomas Jefferson's vegetable garden in Monticello (post  Colonial Gardens. Part 4.2 - Monticello Vegetable Garden.)

Forget-me-nots bloom at the same time in a royal garden in England as in my suburban garden in Washington state...

Pole beans, cabbages, potatoes, kale, courgettes, tomatoes, chilly peppers, apples, pears, cherries grow here, to name a few.
There are plants that attract beneficial insects and deter unwanted ones.
This Kitchen Garden, as you can guess, is organic.

Strawberries will be protected by a net resting on these solid poles

And now, to the Cutting Garden!
We happened to see it in a transition period. Plants that we saw will soon give way to another 
wave of colorful flowers, including Dahlias with dish-size heads, all color coordinated.
The bouquets will adorn the rooms in the Castle as well as the residence of  the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk.

This is the new combination that Martin Duncan is trying. Lavander and Allium 'Gladiator'.

Humpback-shaped tunnels to support sweet peas made by the Head Gardener himself.

Miniature hedges of Alchemilla (Lady's mantle)

Hazlenut and ash are used for plant support.


Phortinia cerrulata 

English Herbacious Borders are chalk full of  Alliums, Nepetas, Delphiniums, Roses, Salvias, Lupins, Thalictrums, Stachys byzantina, Alchemilla mollis,  Bachelor button, Wall flowers,  Poppies,  Camassia, Perennial Geranium, etc. 
They replaced  bulbs (1500 of them) which were dug up after finishing blooming.
Martin Duncan together with six other gardeners cuts down many flowers, as for example geraniums, bachelor button for reblooming. Lupin flowers go down right after the first seeds appear.
He calls it the Chelsea cut since it corresponds with the time of the famous RHS Flower Show.

From here we can look back at the Stumpery.

Allium Gladiator

Cornus controversa 'Variegata' (Wedding cake tree), not very tall and compact, won our hearts.

The spacious area beyond the walled garden is delightful with its beautiful trees, patches of flowers and places to sit, relax and think about a thousand years of history...

I was fascinated with this ancient huge cork oak tree (Quercus Suber).

The Rose Garden sits on the site of an 18th century bowling green and has a contemporary touch due to its metal structures.  It's still a work in progress.
Old-fashioned English roses bloom their best, they say, in June and July. 

There is also a very impressive White Garden at the Castle, and we'll see its pictures in the next post.
It was a pleasant surprise to see how luxurious a white garden can be in May, when other famous gardens had only a modest display in their white gardens at this time of the year.

Website - Arundel Castle
Address; Arundel, West Sussex, BN18  9AB

To be continued
***Copyright 2015 TatyanaS

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