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garden tales from a Brit abroad

Herterton House

Herterton House is a one-acre gem of a place in Northumberland. It has featured on the BBC’s Gardeners World and in national newspapers, and yet remains much less well-known than its popular neighbour, Wallington Hall, owned by the National Trust.

Its creators, Frank and Marjorie Lawley, have made the five gardens here over the past 37 years, using their art history background and love of colours and plants to turn agricultural fields into thoughtful, inspiring places.

The first spot to visit is a physic garden, with herbs and other medicinal plants laid out in geometric beds all edged with a striking dwarf London Pride (Saxifraga x urbium).

Herterton House physic1 Herterton House physic2 Herterton House physic3

Next, at the front of the house, is a peaceful formal garden, with clipped shrubs and some confident plantings of bleeding heart, foxgloves and asphodel.

Herterton House formal1 Herterton House formal2 Herterton House formal3

The third space is a flower garden, a delightful mass of colour and form in early July.

Herterton House flower3 Herterton House flower5 Herterton House flower4 Herterton House flower2 Herterton House flower1

Next comes a deceptively simple ‘fancy’ garden, with parterres laid out to be viewed from the windows of a splendid two-storey gazebo.

Herterton House fancy3 Herterton House fancy2 Herterton House fancy1

Finally comes the nursery garden, a fine selection of mainly perennial plants, which Frank describes with knowledge and quiet passion, and will happily dig up for anyone who wishes to buy.

Herterton House nursery1

The gardens are laid out around a partly Elizabethan house that is rented from the National Trust. Frank told us that he and his wife had at first planned to stay as tenants and keep the gardens going until they were aged 75, but that milestone is now long past and they wonder if 80 might be the time to stop. Apparently the National Trust has indicated it would maintain the gardens as an attraction after their departure, but Frank is clearly unpersuaded that the Trust will understand the character and spirit of the place. He is planning to produce a book which will chronicle the history and nature of the gardens, to serve as a record of what he and his wife have created.

So many gardens created by individuals seem to fade and wither once an institution takes on their management; I hope that is not the fate of Herterton. Visit while you can: it is open every summer afternoon except Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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10 comments on “Herterton House

  1. Wonderfull place! It is a balm for my eyes, now full of Mediterranean summer landscapes. From your pics the visit is worth while and I agree that institutions sometimes put their efforts in the big pictures leaving behind real jewels such as this one. Congratulations to the creators/keepers who are dedicating their life to the place.

  2. Julie
    July 13, 2013

    Thanks for jogging my memory about Herterton. I visited years ago and must go back to see it once again. Apparently the house is supposed to be haunted if you believe the locals….
    Julie x

  3. Donna@Gardens Eye View
    July 14, 2013

    These gardens are absolutely gorgeous…I am adding them to my list of must see gardens…these images are fabulous eye candy for the garden

  4. little blog of happy
    July 15, 2013

    What a lovely spot! Definitely on my wish list too.

  5. landscapelover
    July 18, 2013

    Thanks for the responses, and to Tim Longville, who recommended Herterton to me. It is a delightful, very personal garden that nestles perfectly in its space. The challenge will be to retain its particular character and charm once the Lawleys decide to hang up their gardening gloves.

  6. diversifolius
    July 23, 2013

    You can tell how much love and dedication went into making and maintaining this place! Hope it will go on.

  7. Barbara
    July 25, 2013

    What beautifully detailed landscapes. They are fancy and majestic. They also give you inspiration for your own lawns and gardens. Incredible character and dimension.

  8. Jeannine
    August 14, 2013

    Just beautiful. Jeannine

  9. Alden Copeland
    November 13, 2013

    “Follow Nature. Gardening is an imitation of “Beautiful Nature” and not works of Art.” In 1751 the Reverend Joseph Spence, who is not nearly so well-known to garden history as his friend Alexander Pope, penned a list of sixteen “general rules” for the design of landscapes. The first repeats Pope’s all too famous “consult the genius of the place” aphorism, but the other rules are actually more interesting, and I particularly like his recommendation for imitating “Beautiful Nature”, because that’s really what all gardeners, and all gardens, seek to do in their own way. But by modern lights few of us would call Spence’s ideal–Pope’s garden at Twickenham (above)–so very natural. In a way that’s what enables garden history: the fact that the sort of Nature we perceive as being beautiful, and therefore want to create in our gardens, is constantly changing.

  10. Pingback: The 7 Most Beautiful Gardens In Britain | Fleeting Architecture

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This entry was posted on July 12, 2013 by in Gardens, UK and tagged , .

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