Levens Hall Topiary garden is a grade I listed garden dating from 1694 – through a combination of circumstance and love the gardens at Levens Hall have survived in their original design.
The topiary is some of the oldest in the world and justifiably famous, though it did go out of fashion for almost a century when the yews were allowed to grow un-trimmed. But in 1815 they were re-cut, this time into larger and more dramatic shapes, perhaps reflecting the increased confidence of the times.
In the mid 18th century the highly formal, Dutch and French influenced, parterre style of the original garden was threatened by the new 'craze' sweeping the nation of English landscaping, largely driven by the success of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. But Levens Hall thankfully resisted and as a result we still have a realistic insight to how English gardens used to be and the delights they have to offer.
Today it features over 100 individual topiary pieces, many abstract or geometric shapes. Look out for the chess pieces, King and Queen, the Judges Wig, the Howard Lion, the Great Umbrella which is around 10 metres high, Queen Elizabeth and her Maids of Honour, a Jug of Morocco Ale and four Peacocks amongst many others.
This historic, and rather quirky, topiary garden also incorporates a small orchard of apple trees and medlars, a nuttery and herb garden, a bowling green, a rose garden, herbaceous borders and seasonal bedding which is intensely colourful in mid summer and very well done. The apple trees in the orchards produce over four tons of fruit per year which goes into Apple Pies and cider making.
To celebrate the partnership of Colonel James Grahme and his gardener Guillaume Beaumont, a fountain garden, bordered with pleached limes, was added in 1994, the garden’s 300th anniversary.
Author: Bob Saunders.
Restaurant The Bellingham Buttery offers a wide range of home-cooked food and uses produce from the estate when available.
Levens Hall is situated in South Lakeland, 6 miles south of Kendal.
Satnav directions: Postcode LA8 0PD. Leave the M6 motorway at Junction 36 (A590, signposted Barrow-in-Furness) then take the A6 south (signposted Milnthorpe). Look for the brown “heritage” signs. Click here for directions.
The nearest mainline rail station is Oxenholme, the Lake District, where there is a taxi service available. There are direct links to Oxenholme from Manchester Airport and from Londo