hodnet hall gardens and tea shop – Hodnet Hall Gardens

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Ten towering yew topiaries usher you in to the gardens at Wollerton Old Hall in Shropshire. It’s a breathtaking beginning to a garden that’s endlessly packed with surprising twists and turns. And the story behind it is just as intriguing. Bought by Lesley and John Jenkins in 1984, this 16th-century hall was once Lesley’s childhood home, where she would ride her pony in the then-Edwardian gardens. One day two decades later, she drove past on a detour and realized it was for sale and put in a bid for the home that she had loved as a child.

Today, more than 30 years on, the gardens are an astounding accomplishment. With no training (although a fair amount of gardening experience), Lesley devised a complex series of garden rooms and a croft set in four acres and laid it all out with meticulous precision so that, at almost every turn, there are stunning glimpses and stop-you-in-your-tracks moments. Yet for all the grandeur here there are so many inspiring ideas to take away for any gardener, on any sized plot, too. Here are 10 garden ideas to steal from Wollerton Old Hall:

Photography by Clare Coulson.

Tall Topiaries

Above: By placing imposing towers in a relatively narrow area, Lesley has achieved maximum impact. For the newly installed head gardener, Gareth Manning, the annual clipping of the 14-foot-high yew pyramids, is one of the more daunting tasks.

Symmetry

Above: The cool and calm rill garden is a tranquil resting place and gives glimpses across the gardens to the yew walk. It has a masterful symmetry with box domes and towering hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’) edging the rectangular rill. In spring terra cotta pots are filled with white pansies but by high summer these are switched for the graceful Hydrangea Paniculata Unique ($15.95 from Burpee).

Shady Spots

Above: There are wonderful views at every turn; here a walk up to a timber summerhouse is edged with Nepeta Six Hills Giant ($10.95 from Bluestone Perennials).

Painterly Color Palette

Above: Lesley was once an art teacher and that painterly eye shows in the rich planting combinations; here the gorgeous lilac Phlox Blue Paradise ($13.95 from White Flower Farm) is paired with Rosa Lady of Shalott ($27.95 from David Austin) and Salvia Nemorosa Caradonna ($8.95 from Bluestone Perennials).

Hot Garden

Above: The Hot Garden is a riot of intense colors, from zingy yellows to eye popping reds, but the foliage is equally mesmerizing. Here Sambucus Nigra ($17.99 from Proven Winners) is joined by the coppery spikes of Phormium Evening Glow (£14.50 from Burncoose Nurseries in the UK), abutilon, Ligularia dentata, golden achillea, and gorgeous waxy canna leaves.

Contrasting Textures

Above: Wollerton is packed with interesting plants and the owners excel in discovering more unusual varieties. Here the deep magenta spires of Lupinus ‘Masterpiece’ (£7.99 apiece from Crocus in the UK) are contrasted brilliantly with Carex Elata Aurea ($8.95 from Santa Rosa Gardens).

Thread: Wollerton Old Hall

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