Chatsworth in full bloom
A series of huge new plantings, including more than 250,000 flowering perennials, shrubs and trees in Chatsworth’s garden is set to transform an overlooked, undeveloped 15-acre area at its heart, now named Arcadia.
More than 80,000 plants will be used during the first phase of Arcadia, which starts in September and continues through into spring 2020. Working to a plan by the celebrated garden designer Tom Stuart Smith and supported by the Gucci fashion house, Arcadia will include the creation of new, meadow-like glades connected by woodland walks and featuring a major new sculpture installation. It is part of a 25-acre project that also includes a remodelled Rockery, the Maze borders, the Ravine, and Dan Pearson’s redevelopment of the Trout Stream and the Jack Pond – making it one of Britain’s largest private garden transformations.
One of the Duke of Devonshire’s favourite shrubs, Daphne, will feature strongly, placed particularly around seating areas because of its scent, while winter Helleborus in different colours and Primula in spring will be particular highlights.
Many different plant and flower types will be used to extend interest across the seasons in Arcadia with each glade having different characteristics. A wet glade will feature Gunnera, swamp cypress (Taxodium) and royal ferns while other glades will have a mix of native and exotic vegetation with shrub plantings on the peripheries including Rhododendron, Eucryphia, Viburnum and Hydrangea.
The 25-strong Chatsworth Garden team, directed by Head of Gardens and Landscape Steve Porter, working with the help of four trainees and 70 volunteer gardeners will handle this huge project in-house. Hundreds of new trees have already been planted and the team has cleared the Arcadia area. More than 1,000 tonnes of mulch is being laid to help with weed suppression and water retention before the team begins working with the 80,000 new plants for phase one.
The Duke of Devonshire: “It might seem strange that such a large area as Arcadia could have been overlooked for so long in such a well-known garden but it’s certainly very exciting to open it up to our visitors with a series of colourful glades which will make it accessible and attractive.”
The foundations of Chatsworth’s garden and park were laid by the celebrated garden designers William Kent, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th and Joseph Paxton in the 19th century’s. Now, Tom Stuart Smith and Dan Pearson will work alongside Steve Porter and his garden team to add another major layer to this historic garden
The 105-acre garden is the product of nearly 500 years of careful cultivation. Although some points of interest have been replaced to make way for new fashions, the garden retains many early features, including the Canal Pond, Cascade and Duke’s Greenhouse. The famous waterworks include the 300-year-old Cascade, the Willow Tree Fountain and the impressive, gravity-fed Emperor Fountain, which reaches heights up to 90m.