WYHPS Day Trip to Wynyard Hall and the Northeast

 Saturday July 28th   

Sion Hill Hall, Kirby Wiske

The charming gardens at Sion Hill Hall are laid out over 5 acres and perfectly compliment the splendid neo-Georgian architecture of the Edwardian house. After many years of neglect – some areas even grazed by sheep – the now inspiring gardens have been restored and transformed by Michael Mallaby to include an impressive variety of sweeping lawns, landscaped vistas and pathways.

The south front garden displays a formal parterre based on the designs at Chateau de Marly with Baroque statues, clipped hornbeam and yew trees, pink flowering horse chestnut and box hedging. The lawns lead to The Long Walk originally laid out in the 1850’s for Lady Louisa Lascelles, daughter of The 4th Earl of Mansfield, which are now restored to exhibit a delightful double herbaceous border. Here seating can be found for you to rest and absorb the tranquil surroundings. The Long Walk joins the meandering path of The Lower Walk a woodland style garden lightly shaded by mature trees which follows the route of the River Wiske, where Osiers once harvested willow for making baskets. At the end of the walk an intriguing door leads to The Lower Kitchen Garden.  An area which is meticulously maintained in a traditional manner to harvest fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Returning towards the house, to the east, lies The Centenary Garden created in 2013 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the completion of the house in 1913. This garden fills with the fragrance of pink perfumed roses, amongst the cherry trees and striking blue delphinium.


Wynyard Hall, Stockton on Tees

The Gardens have been intricately designed and created by multi RHS award-winning landscape architect Alistair Baldwin, along with rose expert Michael Marriott from David Austin Roses and Wynyard Hall’s own dedicated team of gardeners.

From the moment they were first developed in 1822, The Gardens have offered a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. They were originally created by William Sawrey Gilpin who crafted gently curved flowerbeds, raised terrace walks, irregularly shaped shrubberies, and winding paths to form beautiful shapes within the landscape.

Durham historian William Fordyce in 1857 describes the landscape, ‘From the mansion, a broad terraced walk conducts to the gardens, which cover many acres of ground. The front or flower garden is flanked with glass houses, containing rare and exotic flowers and fruits. A broad gravel walk, arched over with roses, leads to the orchard and the dairy – a pretty rustic building. Sloping down towards the lake, extensive pleasure-grounds are intersected with numerous gravel drives and grass rides several miles in extent.

A significant time in the history of The Gardens was during Theresa, Lady Londonderry’s title. Pioneering for her time Theresa re-developed The Gardens in 1912. Along with the re-development Theresa create a garden album which records in great detail the series of gardens she transformed…Beyond the Ratisbon Gates, the Italian Garden produced a stunning effect. A series of carpet beds, densely packed with brightly coloured tender plants and muted foliage provided a superb show. According to Theresa, ‘to sit on the seat under the oak on the rising ground and to look at the brilliant colours displayed in this garden is most satisfying to the eye.’

Theresa also created a series of ornamental gardens, including a rose garden, a lily garden, a thyme walk and a herbaceous broad walk, 270 yards long, bounded by a high yew hedge. In contrast to the formal gardens, the wild garden presented a range of shrubs, plants and bulbs in a natural setting, with grass paths, known as ‘the garden river’.  The final words of her journal demonstrate Theresa’s love of this area. ‘Wild garden, grow! To me your paths are memories and every flower a friend.’ The Gardens were not only created for appearance, they had a purpose, which was to sustain the great house.

The area now known as the Walled Garden, the site for Sir John Hall’s Rose Garden, was originally, the kitchen garden. The Head Gardener’s cottage stands in the corner. A bell hanging at a central point high up on the wall adjoining his house marked the gardeners’ day. Beds edged with box hedges were used for the cultivation of apple trees and vegetables. Pears, apricots, peaches and cherries were trained on the walls. Soft fruits, including vines, peaches and figs were grown in glasshouses.

At the turn of the 20th century, visitors flocked to the gardens, which were open to the public three days a week for a considerable part of the year however closed shortly before the war.  In 1987, as well as embarking on major restoration work in the house, Sir John Hall turned his attention to the grounds. Consultants suggested the restoration of the Walled Garden and Italianate Gardens, plans which are now coming to fruition, thanks to the determination and vision of Sir John and his family.

The Walled Garden itself, dates back to 1822. It was originally created by William Sawrey Gilpin, who crafted gently curved flowerbeds, raised terrace walks, irregularly shaped shrubberies, and winding paths to form beautiful shapes within the landscape. It provided a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, forming a beautiful visitor attraction until it closed shortly before the war. The restoration and opening of the Walled Garden in 2015, saw this legacy reinstated, as part of Sir John Hall’s personal ambition to create the most exquisite rose garden in the UK.


Woodside House,   Bishop Auckland  

NGS garden. Stunning 2 acre, mature, undulating garden full of interesting trees, shrubs and plants. Superbly landscaped (by the owners) with island beds, flowing herbaceous borders, an old walled garden, rhododendron beds, fernery, 3 ponds, grass bed and vegetable garden. Delightful garden full of interesting and unusual features: much to fire the imagination. Winner of Bishop Auckland in Bloom.



Open Gardens August 2018

This is a list of open gardens within a 50 mile radius of Leeds. Click on the link to open the page on the NGS website, for details of opening times etc. To return to this page press the ‘go back’ arrow on your toolbar.

1 August:

6 Birch Road, Leigh

Land Farm, Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire

2 Newlay Grove, Leeds


4 August: 

Field House, Lymm

Lower Dutton Farm, Ribchester, Lancashire

Oak Barn Exotic Garden, Newark, Nottinghamshire

21 Scafell Close, Stockport, Cheshire


5 August:

Fell Yeat, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

Greencroft, Ripon

73 Hill Top Avenue, Stockport, Cheshire

Kirkella, Ripon

Littlethorpe Gardens, Ripon

Littlethorpe House, Ripon

The Villa, Goole, Yorkshire


8 August:

The Grange, Skipton


11 August:

The Growth Project, Rochdale, Lancashire

Hazeldene, Bakewell

Laskey Farm, Warrington, Cheshir


12 August:

Cascades Gardens, Matlock, Derbyshire

East Wing, Newton Kyme Hall, Nr Boston Spa, North Yorkshire

Hollies Farm Plant Centre, Matlock, Derbyshire

Millrace Garden, Leeds

Plant World, Preston, Lancashire

Sleightholmedale Lodge, Fadmoor, Yorkshire


19 August:

Beechwood Cottage, Lymm, Cheshire

Dove Cottage Nursery Garden, nr Halifax

Inner Lodge, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

Mr Yorke’s Walled Garden, Richmond, Yorkshire

Old Quarry Lodge, nr Brigg, Lincolnshire

Scape Lodge, Huddersfield


26 August:

Fernleigh, Sheffield

Pilmoor Cottages, nr Helperby, Yorkshire

12 Water Lane, Matlock, Derbyshire


27 August:

The Ridges, Chorley, Lancashire

Plant of the Month July 2018: Phlox paniculata

Phlox paniculata are often regarded as a quintessential English garden plant, with their soft, open heads of lightly scented flowers. However, P. paniculata is a native of North America. It was introduced to England by the Quaker botanist John Bartram (1699-1777) of Philadelphia. Phlox is the Greek for flame.

Phlox are a genus of the Polemoniacaea family, native to the eastern and central United States and eastern Canada. Phlox are a large genus of 67 species of mostly perennials with a few annuals and shrubs. The species classed as ‘border Phlox’ include P. paniculata and P. maculata, which are from riverside habitats and produce large corymbs of flowers (a flower cluster whose lower stalks are proportionally longer so that the flowers form a flat or slightly convex head, and in which the outer flowers open first) in midsummer, with oval or lance-shaped leaves. For more information on the different kinds of inflorescence click here  for the RHS School Gardening Spotter Guide. 

The first serious phlox breeder was Wilhelm Pfitzer who introduced P. paniculata ‘Europa’ in 1910. Early hybridisation of P. paniculata took place mostly in France; Victor Lemoine was a well-known French plantsman who introduced a number of cultivars. Two are still listed in the RHS plant finder: P. paniculata ‘Iris’ (1890) and P. paniculata ‘Eclaireur’ (1892).

George Arends was basically a hybridiser and experimented with crossing P. paniculata with other species. In 1912 he began producing his first Phlox x arendsii, crossing the early flowering P. paniculata with the low-growing woodland P. divaricata, the result being a more compact plant which retained the impressive flowering of P. paniculata. Among his first were P. x arendsii ‘Helene’, named for his wife. Although most of these early hybrids have since been superseded, the name x arendsii is still conferred to plants of the same parent species. The original hybrid bred in the 1920s is available today as P. x arendsii ‘Anya,’ which has magenta pink flowers. His great granddaughter, Anja Maubach still runs the nursery he established in the 1930’s.

Phlox became popular in the UK in the 1880’s, when they were bred as a cut flower. They became popular for garden use in late Victorian and Edwardian gardens and were a great favourite of Gertrude Jekyll. By 1917 there were 584 named selections. H J Jones was a pioneering Phlox breeder in the UK in the early 1900’s. He bred a number of cultivars which are still available today, including P. paniculata ‘A.E. Amos’ (1924) with deep raspberry-red eyed bright red flowers which fade in sun and P. paniculata ‘Mrs A.E. Jeans’ (1922) which has pink flowers with a darker eye.

New Dutch selections include P. x arendsii ‘Luc’s Lilac’ and the Spring Pearl Series (‘Miss Jill’, ‘Miss Karen’, ‘Miss Margie’ and ‘Miss Mary’), named for the office staff at the De Vroomen company, and with white, dark pink, lilac-blue, and rosy-red flowers, respectively.

Between the 1930’s and the 1960’s, Karl Foester, a prominent German plant breeder, introduced a number of cultivars which are still available today. In 1934 he introduced the salmon-pink P. paniculata ‘Eva Foerster’ AGM. In the 1940’s he introduced the lavender P. paniculata ‘Amethyst’ (1940) and P. paniculata ‘Schneerausch’ (1949) which has big thick creamy white flowers from shadowy slate lilac buds. In the 1950’s he introduced the pale pink P. paniculata ‘Rosa Pastell’ AGM (1951), P. paniculata ‘Prospero’ AGM (1956) with fragrant, white-eyed, light lilac-purple flowers with pale-edged petals, and P. paniculata ‘Violetta Gloriosa’ (1956) with pale lilac flowers and a large white centre. One of his last introductions in 1964 was the purple P. paniculata ‘Dusterlohe’ (synonym ‘Nicky’).

Karl Foester is reputed to have delivered the memorable judgement that ‘a garden without phlox is not only a sheer mistake but a sin against summer.’

Karl Foerster developed the concept of ‘wilderness garden art’ in his garden in Potsdam-Bornim which is a short train ride from Berlin. Click here to read more about his garden.

Bonne Ruys founded the Moerheim Nursery in the east of the Netherlands in 1888, specialising in perennials. The business became the most notable nursery in Europe for perennials in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1937, he bred Ppaniculata ‘Frau Alfred von Mauthner’ (synonym Ppaniculata ‘Spitfire’) which has brilliant cherry-red flowers, and leaves that have a dark red tinge to them. Other cultivars available today include Ppaniculata ‘Wilhelm Kesselring’ (1923) with blue-lilac flowers with pale cream blazing, and a hint of red-magenta in the eye, and Ppaniculata ‘Caroline van den Berg’ (1927) with lavender flowers with a deeper eye. (Ppaniculata ‘Caroline van den Berg’ was an HPS conservation plant in 2008.) Ruys also introduced two white cultivars, Ppaniculata ‘Rembrant’ (1900) and Ppaniculata ‘Mia Ruys’ (1922). Ppaniculata ‘Milly van Hoboken’ (1922) has delicate pink flowers.

His daughter, Wilhelmina Jacoba Moussault-Ruys was a Dutch landscape and garden architect. Her gardening legacy is maintained in the Dutch town of Dedemsvaart, home of the Tuinen Mien Ruys, which contains 30 inspirational gardens. Along with Piet Oudolf, she is considered to be a leader in the ‘New Perennial Movement.’ Click here for a link to the gardens.

There has been a long tradition of breeding Phlox cultivars in Russia. P. paniculata ‘Uspekh’ AGM (synonym ‘Laura’) was bred by P. Gaganov in 1937.

The high point of phlox breeding in this country occurred after WW II when a local grower from Otley, Fred Simpson and Capt. Bertram Symons-Jeune of Windsor began serious efforts to produce modern varieties for British gardens and many of their cultivars are still available today.

In 1913, Fred Simpson, started a poultry business developing quality strains of hens on what is now the site of Steven Smith’s Garden Centre in Otley. Twenty-one years later as his health failed, he turned his attention to horticulture and he developed an interest in breeding better strains of perennial plants. These included the world-famous Otley Korean Chrysanthemums and the Lupin ‘Otley Yellow’, but it was his work with herbaceous Phlox paniculata which was most successful. He introduced the regal strain which included cultivars named after royal residences, including P. paniculata ‘Windsor’ which has bright salmon pink flowers with cerise-pink eyes, and P. paniculata ‘Sandringham’ which has cyclamen pink flowers with dark eyes. Courtyard Planters in Otley propagate several of Fred Simpson’s cultivars on behalf of ‘Otley in Bloom’. P. paniculata ‘Otley Choice’ and P. paniculata ‘Otley Purple’ are still listed in the RHS Plant Finder.

Captain Bertram Hanmer Bunbury (B.H.B.) Symons-Jeune, was a notable rock gardener, designer, and breeder of phlox, selected mostly for flower size and colour, and for vigour. Between 1940 and 1960 he supplied ten varieties per year to James Baker’s Boningale Nursery near Wolverhampton, which is now a wholesale nursery. They include P. paniculata ’Eventide’ (1947) has mauve-purple, scented flowers. Other cultivars include P. paniculata ‘Vintage Wine’ (1957), a dark leaved variety with royal purple-red flowers; P. paniculata ‘Othello’ (1959) which has large heads of claret-red flowers with a light fragrance; its shoots and leaves are dark green flushed with purple. Another cultivar is the highly fragrant P. paniculata ‘Bright Eyes’ (1967) which has very fragrant crimson-eyed, white-pink flowers.

Alan Bloom (1906 – 2005) developed his nursery in the grounds of Bressingham Hall. Perennials were historically grown in deep borders against a wall or fence, as favoured by the gardening stalwarts William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll. Plants struggle to grow in the part shade, become leggy and require staking. Alan Bloom started to grow perennials in island beds and noticed that they were sturdier as a result, and that the weeding of the beds was also easier! Influenced by Karl Foester, he developed a number of Phlox cultivars including P. paniculata ‘Mother of Pearl’ AGM (1954), with slightly cupped white flowers suffused with pink. He also discovered the distinctive P. paniculata ‘Norah Leigh’ AGM (1957), which has variegated white-splashed leaves and soft-pink flowers, growing in Norah Leigh’s Broadwell Manor garden in Gloucestershire, but it is a much older plant having grown in Munich Botanical Garden for more than 80 years. The violet coloured P. paniculata ‘Franz Schubert’ AGM (1980) was one of his last introductions.

In the early 1990’s Piet Oudolf the Dutch plantsman and landscape gardener, produced some lovely blue cultivars, including the lavender-blue P. paniculata ‘Blue Evening’ and the indigo P. paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’, which is one of the earliest of the phlox to flower; the quality of its blue colour changes throughout the day, at dawn and dusk it is a magical watery blue, and then at midday, it is almost pink. Another Dutchman, Coen Jansen bred P. paniculata ‘Utopia’ in the 1990’s.

The pale pink P. paniculata ‘Monica Lynden-Bell’ AGM (1970) was found as a seedling in Lynden-Bell’s Hampshire garden and popularised by Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers.

P. paniculata ‘David’ is a recent American introduction. This was found as a chance seedling close to the Brandywine River Museum, in Pennsylvania in 1991, and developed for the florist trade. It is tall, healthy and late-flowering, replacing in many ways the old stalwart, P. paniculata ‘Mt. Fuji’, long considered to be the best white phlox.

By the 1970’s, interest in growing Phlox paniculata appeared to wane. There was a perception that they were difficult to grow and suffered from disease including the dual problems of mildew and eelworm, which can disfigure phlox plants.  Mildew can be controlled by good air round the plants and consistent moisture in the soil, maintained by mulching around the roots.  Newer cultivars are bred for mildew resistance. Eelworm, although incurable, is much less prevalent that historically because nursery stock has been cleaned up and resistant new varieties introduced. When it does strike, the stems of the affected plants should be destroyed and replaced with new plants propagated from root cuttings (the roots do not host the pest).  Phlox can be divided in autumn or spring. Many Phlox are grown as containerised plants which should be planted out as soon as possible as they are not particularly happy in pots.

Over the intervening years when interest in phlox dropped off, many cultivars remained in gardens, but the names of many were gradually forgotten, and many varieties lost all together.  The great gardener and writer, Christopher Lloyd, once wrote that he wished to get the real names for some of the old-fashioned stalwarts including his P. paniculata‘Doghouse Pink’ (from Doghouse Farm, on Stone Street, Canterbury, originally a pub, The Dog). He described it as being full of charm with its two shades of soft pink. He also described a ‘Long Border Mauve’ which grew in the Dixter Long Border since before he was born, which has a penetrating colour that shows brilliantly from a distance.

Today Dutch, German and Russian nurserymen continue to produce excellent new plants. The newer introductions include the pink and white P. paniculata ‘Peppermint Twist’,

and the delicate pink and yellow P. paniculata ‘Sherbert Cocktail’. Phlox should usually be regarded as a mid-border plant, as even well-grown specimens often lose their lower leaves by the time they flower.  The exceptions to this rule are some of the new strains of dwarf phlox being developed in Holland for pot or front of border use.  One such group is the Flame Phlox series, which includes an endless selection of colour choices on compact, well-flowering plants.

The RHS undertook a trial of Phlox between 2011 and 2013. It is interesting to read the report and to learn what criteria the plants had to meet to achieve an Award of Garden Merit (AGM). Some species had their AGM rescinded. Click here to read more.

The German plantsman, Hartmut Rieger published a photographic journal ‘A journey through my garden…’ on the internet in 2005 and added to it until his death in 2013. The data for Phlox and Helenium species are based on measurements and observations he made in his garden; he also recorded the original breeder. Click here for the link.

Another interesting link is to a Lithuanian nursery which specialises in Phlox and Day Lilies. There is a gallery of about 1200 Phlox species many of them bred in Russia. The website is in English! Click here for the link.

The National Collection of Phlox paniculata is held by Leeds City Council at Temple Newsam Estate.

Page image: Phlox paniculata ‘Mother of Pearl’ AGM (Image courtesy of HPS image library)

Norfolk Holiday

Day 1:

Left Paxton on time. I did notice a bag on the coach with plants in it and we hadn’t even started our journey!

We arrived at Ellicar Gardens on time.  The natural swimming pool was much admired and some wished that they could have had a swim. The water lilies were delightful. The prairie planting was not to everyone’s liking but the overall effect was pleasing.

The cakes were very good. There were plants for sale but no one succumbed to temptation. In the tea room there was a video on the four favourite garden implements and at least one person found the information helpful.

We then continued our journey to Haconby. The traffic through Grantham was slow and were late arriving at Chapel Street. The garden was an absolute delight and I think we all agreed that it was a pity that we did not have longer there. Unfortunately the owner had recently died but his daughter kindly  arranged the visit. She was very knowledgeable. There were numerous interesting plants to admire.

We arrived late at West Acre and went straight in for tea and cakes. The cafe had recently been upgraded and was delightful.  A selection of cakes was presented on a cake stand and they were delicious. Then most people made a beeline to the nursery where there were some lovely plants for sale at very reasonable prices. I bought a couple of peonies which were on my wish list and some phlox to add to my growing collection. Then there was time to walk around the walled garden. On getting on the coach for the final leg of our journey on day one there was a good collection of plants on board!

We then arrived late at UEA and after unpacking our things it was straight into dinner.

The consensus view was that we had had a good first day. I managed to write up everyone’s comments on each of the gardens by bedtime.

Day 2:

We woke up to bright blue skies and a welcome breeze. We had a prompt start at 9 am and arrived at Chestnut Farm by 10:15 am.  We were welcomed by owners who had been there for over fifty years. We were all given a map of garden on the back of which was a list of plants looking their best. Half of the group were invited to have coffee first but many got distracted by the plant sales and had to be encouraged to go round to the tea room. The garden was beautiful and there were a number of unusual trees and shrubs (including Calycanthus) and rambling roses reaching up to the sky. The cottage style planting was lovely; an Anemone rivularis in the Fountain Garden was much admired. The cakes served with coffee and tea were delicious.

We then travelled for about an hour to reach East Ruston Old Vicarage. We had lunch and Anthony Gray, one of the owners welcomed us. We had all afternoon to explore the garden. There were welcome areas of shade and seats to take  a well earned rest whilst exploring the extensive gardens. The other owner Graham Robeson drove by the coach as we were preparing to leave, in his wonderful vintage car.

I spent the evening demonstrating to members how to navigate the website and to email me images. Unfortunately, many people had difficulty connecting to ‘The Cloud’. 

Day 3:

It was another lovely day weather wise with a pleasant breeze first thing. We departed on time from UEA for our first garden visit to High House Gardens, Shipdham. The delphiniums were in full bloom and the herbaceous borders were magnificent. The plant sale area was popular as there were some very good plants.

We then went to Creake Nursery. There was a rush to be the first to arrive and grab the best plants! There was a good selection of plants for sale and on my second walk round the nursery I spotted some of the older varieties of Phlox which I couldn’t resist. When we returned to the coach there was an array of plants on board!

Next stop was Holkham Hall for lunch and a visit to the walled gardens which we reached by an open – air tractor buggy. We passed the monument to Thomas William Coke who introduced crop rotation in the late 1700’s and the Ice House, a must ‘have’ for all large houses of that era. The walled garden is being restored. The derelict greenhouses were fascinating.

Our last stop at Dunbheagan was a delight; the garden was stunning and the refreshments delicious. The previous owner had named the house after the Dunvegan (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Bheagain), a small town on the Isle of Skye.

We returned a little later than planned to UEA. I was too tired to write up the comments on our visits for the day.

Day 4:

There has been no break in the hot weather.  Our first visit to Janet Sleep’s garden lived up to expectations. It was a true plantswoman’s garden with many interesting plants (and plants for sale).

On our way to Bressingham we stopped at another nursery, The Plantsman’s Preference which had a good selection of geraniums and grasses.

We started our visit to Bressingham with lunch and then had the whole afternoon to explore the gardens. The gardens in front of the Hall were open and apart from having to dodge the sprinklers well worth the time. Prior to our visit there had been some suggestion that Foggy Bottom would not be worth exploring, but everyone I spoke to on my way round the gardens was impressed by the planting and atmosphere there. I failed to find the fragrant garden on my way back from Foggy Bottom. On my way back to the coach I wandered round the Dell Garden; Pat Inman commented on the fact that there were not many Phlox but I actually lost count of how many I spotted on my way round the garden (10 and counting). I took my time exploring the Dell and thought that we were due back on the coach at 5 pm. Whoops! I spent the rest of the holiday living down my mistake!

Whilst some members chose to watch the football the rest of us did the quiz after dinner. Thank you to Diane and Brenda for organising this.

Day 5:

It is to the credit of our driver Rob, that not only was all our luggage safely stored in the hold, but the majority of our plants which occupied one half of the hold. Sue’s recommendation to use sturdy bags rather than crates worked well.

The highlight of the day was our visit to the delightful garden at Bank House, Marshland St James, where we were also treated to delicious cakes.

The gardens at Doddington Hall were a disappointment but the old trees, some of which pre-dated the Hall were impressive.

We arrived back at Paxton Hall just before 6 pm. The coach was quickly unloaded and we all made our way home.

Images to be loaded later.