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Scampston Hall Gardens

Scampston garden

I first visited the gardens at Scampston Hall soon after they had been laid out to the Piet Oudolf design - it must have been about 2006, when I was experimenting here with growing cut flowers that would give a similar effect in a vase or bouquet. I wanted to capture that rhythm of heights and textures, the inclusion of grasses and seed heads and things that you couldn't buy in a flower shop. I left with a notebook full of plant names - heneliums and sanguisorbas, eryngiums and scabious, lots and lots of grasses.

Though most of the photos that I have put in the gallery here are of flower combination that is actually a small part of the whole design.

The garden at Scampston is created within an C18th walled garden - it is made up of nine central spaces, divided by topiary hedges, and a perimeter walk of what are termed 'plantsman's plants'. There is a Renaissance inspired viewing mound, a topiary corridor, a formal woodland, wavy stripes of grass and a formal pond - but the bit I go for, and the bit that seems to be most popular with other camera laden visitors, is the four formally shaped beds around a fountain that make up the perennial garden.

Though the photos in the gallery were mainly taken within this relatively small area - the whole garden is 15,000 square metres but this area must only be 1/15 of that - they look as though they take up much more space. The very formal layout, the carefully placed chairs, the wide paths, are all subsumed in a feeling of flow and movement. It becomes all about shape and texture, veiled colours and the beauty of decay.

All of the insect life of the garden lives here. The things that I am taking with me as inspiration on this trip are going to be the low slung seating spaces deep within this tall planting - it was the perfect place for watching butterflies

The other thing that intrigues me is the maintenance - for though this may be a garden inspired by the way plants grow in nature it is not in any way a wild garden. The plants are unstaked yet stay upright there are no weeds, the edges are sharp, there is none of the soft collapse that happens here. Partly it is plant choice - Piet Oudolf has bred plants specifically for his designs, shorter, sturdier, making soft pillows of flowers or tall spires. I now have the amazing Cadbury's purple monarda "scorpion" on my wish list.

Mainly I think however it is a good and plentiful team of gardeners. Every inch of soil is close mulched with straw, every edge is clean and sharp, topiary and grass razor cut.

Do click the image to see the photos - you can click through one by one or choose to set them up as a slide show.

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