Six of the best: Gardens to visit
Spring is here and for many that means getting into the garden. If you need some inspiration West Yorkshire has some of the best gardens in the county to explore and enjoy.
YORK GATE, ADEL
This one acre garden is the vision and creation of the Spencer family who moved to York Gate in 1951. From the farmland surrounding the house, Fredrick Spencer created the bones of the garden which were fleshed out by his son Robin after his death in 1963. Inspired by some of the outstanding gardens of the Arts & Crafts movement such as Hidcote, he created in just one acre, a garden which by the early eighties was regarded by many as one of the best small gardens in the world. Robin died suddenly in 1982 and his mother Sybil took over the garden bequeathing it to the charity Perennial. perennial.org.uk
SHIBDEN HALL, HALIFAX
Set in the picturesque Shibden valley, a mile from Halifax, Shibden Hall dates back to 1420. The Hall is surrounded by the beautifully restored gardens and estate that forms Shibden Park. Much of the landscaping was done by the Hall’s most famous resident, Anne Lister. It became a public park in 1926 and now includes a range of features and attractions. A miniature railway, boating lake, pitch and putt and plenty of areas to walk and explore including trails, an orienteering course and woodland. There is also a play area and cafe. museums.calderdale.gov.uk
LOTHERTON HALL, ABERFORD, LEEDS
Covering eight acres surrounding the front aspect of the house. The gardens were primarily designed by Gwendolyn Gascoigne between 1903 and 1949.
The Edwardian Garden features both formal and natural compositions. And the grounds were designed as a series of enclosed gardens to the north and east of the main house. The old walled garden was transformed into an ‘old-fashioned’ garden filled with rose beds and herbaceous borders with scented flowers. There is also a Bird Garden with more than 480 individual birds. leeds.gov.uk
OAKWELL HALL, BIRSTALL
Oakwell Hall was built by John Batt in 1583 and is featured in Charlotte Bronte’s novel Shirley. Set in 100 acres of Green Flag parkland, there are six restored gardens, the majority reflecting the design styles of 1690. Featuring a walled garden, an arboretum which is stocked with trees available in the 1700s and a wildlife garden, perfect for mini-beast hunting, the gardens have won a Gold Award from Yorkshire in Bloom. While access is quite easy, with level footpaths, a ramp and a good footpath network some wheelchair users may not ble to use all the paths. kirklees.gov.uk
Bramham Park was built in 1698 and its famous landscape laid out over the following 30 years by Robert Benson, 1st Lord Bingley. It is one of very few surviving original gardens from the period as most others were ‘improved’ as fashion changed. Lord Bingley’s tastes did change during the period as he started a formal garden which became more naturalisitc over time. He also left the ends of his allées and vistas unadorned, so the estate appeared endless. There are beautiful features in the 500 acres including a Lime Avenue and follies. bramhampark.co.uk
GOLDEN ACRE PARK, LEEDS
A beautiful park set in 179 acres of mature woodland with gardens surrounding a lake. Golden Acre is home to many varieties of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants as well as a host of native animals and wildfowl.Features include limestone and sandstone rock gardens, bog and late season borders, a courtyard and display house depicting the mediterranean.In the heart of the park is the demonstration garden which follows horticultural trends, providing inspiration and ideas. The park is also next door to Breary Marsh Nature Reserve, a haven for wildlife and important conservation site. visitleeds.co.uk