Herbaceous border renovated at gardens

The double herbaceous border at Newby Hall near Ripon.
The double herbaceous border at Newby Hall near Ripon.

Newby Hall Gardens near Ripon will be opening its gates to the public from today (Wednesday, April 1), when visitors will be able to see its completely renovated herbaceous border.

Newby Hall’s double herbaceous border, one of the longest in the country (some 172m in length), has long been enjoyed by generations of visitors.

The decision to completely renovate it was taken because large clumps of perennials, though performing well enough, were ready to be lifted and divided and the border as a whole had lost cohesion, providing the perfect opportunity to completely overhaul the planting.

A new, modern colour palette with plant colour and form has been carefully chosen by garden curator Lucinda Compton and after two years of planning, designing and in-house plant propagation, work began in the autumn of 2013. The project has been a huge under taking for head gardener Mark Jackson, and his team of five full-time gardeners, ably assisted by nine volunteers, who help in the gardens throughout the year.

For preparation, plants in each bed are lifted, in some cases to be divided and replanted to the new design, or planted elsewhere in the garden.

The soil is then ‘opened up’ with a drag attached to a tractor, allowing the soil to be cultivated to a greater depth, and preventing the risk of surface capping. Raking and levelling ensures the soil is ready for planting. Metre squares are then marked out using canes, allowing the scale plan to then be transferred onto the beds.

Of the 40 per cent of the border newly planted last year, plant establishment has been good with many plants bulking up and achieving almost their full height in one season’s growth.

Newby Hall Gardens was originally designed and created by Maj Edward Compton, developed and nurtured by his son Robin, until 2009, when Lucinda Compton formally took up the reins. The 25 acres of formal gardens are divided into rooms, laid out either side of the double herbaceous border.