English Gardens - North
The Secret and Georgian Gardens
Hall is a medieval building with Jacobean and Georgian
additions which nestles among the trees above the backs of
the River Wear. It is just a short walk from the city centre
but completely hidden from the hustle and bustle of Durham.
The gardens climb up from the river and face south. It is
ideal growing conditions and the soil is black and very
fertile. Plants flourish here. A series of small almost
secret gardens flow into each other. Each is very different
and they all work together to complement the whole. Looking
at the wild almost jungle like growth of the untamed river
bank makes you realise what a labour of love it has been to
establish and maintain the gardens.
By late August, the roses were past their best and many of the flowers were finished, but there was plenty to see and enjoy. There are plenty of seats scattered round the gardens and there is the house to visit too. On sunny days, afternoon teas served in the garden are very popular.
There is a modern tea room with a small shop by the road and tickets are obtained here. The area above this used to be a wild flower meadow, but is now planted with a maze.
Tucked away in the bottom corner is the quiet corner with an outcrop of rock which could be a stand in for the Loch Ness Monster.
The path climbs up beside the wall of the Secret Garden to a wooden gate leading into the Wooded Glade.
I began with the walled Secret and Georgian gardens, the oldest gardens which once provided the hall with fruit, vegetables and flowers. Entry to the Secret garden is through a wooded door and another doorway leads into the Georgian Garden beyond.
A gravel path runs round the inside of the wall and the garden is divided into two lawned areas, one with a table and chairs, the other with a small pergola.
Vegetation is lush if not rampant, with ferns, Montbrettia, salvia, old fruit trees, old fashioned roses, walnut, spirea, holly, ivy, kerria, St Johnís wort, Welsh poppies, winter jasmine, wild strawberries, geraniums, pelargoniums...
Beyond is the Georgian Garden which was a formal C18th garden and is now a flower garden with many cottage garden favourites including Marguerite daisies, golden rod, phlox, delphiniums, mulleins, dahlias, hosta, geraniums, Summach, roses, honeysuckle, bistort...
At the bottom of the garden is the small fernery, transformed from a small car parking space. There arenít many ferns but there are hostas and zebra grass as well as house leaks growing in the seat of an old wooden chair.
There are views to the south with the castle and cathedral. The top of teh cathedral tower was being restored, hence the rather strange 'box-like' structure on the top.
The brick built Georgian hall dwarfs the lower Jacobean wing to the right of it
The Medieval hall on the far right can be glimpsed through the trees.
A doorway leads into the medieval part of the house.
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