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Garden Visit | Gresgarth Hall and Warnell Hall, Lancashire and Cumbria

Beautifully designed gardens in Lancashire and Cumbria

The two gardens we visit today lie just outside the farthest reaches of the Lake District National Park, from the scenic Lune Valley in the south to the north-eastern slopes of the Lakeland fells. We start with morning coffee and then drive to glorious Gresgarth Hall, the home of celebrated designer Arabella Lennox Boyd, whose lifelong passion for plants is combined with both design and horticultural excellence.

Set in a steep-sided valley, and created by Arabella over the past 44 years, it marries Italian formality with English romanticism. It has formal terraces and garden rooms close to the house, radiating out to less formal areas including an arboretum featuring an extraordinary collection of rare trees and shrubs. Arabella has created a sense of mystery with hedged areas that allow the garden to reveal itself gradually. A lake close to the house acts like a mirror, bouncing light and creating reflections, and there are generous herbaceous borders – one of Arabella’s trademarks – overflowing with colour. Other features include a grove of silver birch around a sculpture on a promontory above the river, pebble mosaics, a wild area and an extensive kitchen garden.

After a seasonal lunch at The George Hotel, a traditional inn in the village of Orton, we drive to 16th century Warnell Hall in Cumbria, home of Kate and Nicholas Coulson, who are our hosts this afternoon. They bought this mellow, mullion-windowed manor house 20 years ago and to meet the challenges of their new garden, Kate enrolled on plantsmanship and garden design courses at The English Gardening School and soon set about drawing up plans. Country Life likened the garden to a natural “basin-like amphitheatre” – it nestles into the side of a hill and has been terraced with stone retaining walls.

Kate has chosen rich, velvety colour schemes with long-season interest, carefully mapping out the borders in different palettes. There is a kitchen garden with box-edged beds, a damson walk and wild meadow as well as plentiful topiary. Altogether an inspiring, beautifully made space. Our day will conclude with afternoon tea before we return to the station.

This event has been organised by the Garden Museum’s Garden Visits committee. We recommend you read our Garden Visits Attendee Charter and Refund/exchange policy before booking your place on any of our Garden Visits. All tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.

Image: Gresgarth © Alan Pollock-Morris, Warnell Hall © Val Corbett