For many, the Gardens at Doddington are just as spectacular as the Hall itself. Remaining faithful to the original Elizabethan layout, mellow walls provide the framework for the formal East Front and West Gardens. Beyond the West Gardens begin the lovingly restored Wild Gardens. Over the generations, most recently by Antony and Victoria Jarvis and Claire and James Birch, the gardens at Doddington have been restored, cared for, nurtured and developed to their fullest potential.
The point at which the dramatic nature of the architecture of the Hall becomes apparent. A regular pattern of box edging and topiary follows the outer original Elizabethan walls, leaving the central view of the Hall from the Gate House uninterrupted. Standing guard in the forecourt are four topiary unicorns, representing the Jarvis family crest.
Reorganised in 1900 with the help of experts from Kew, the West Garden is a riot of colour from April through to September. Wide borders filled with botanical surprises such as the naturalised Crown Imperials, elegant Edwardian Daffodils and a Handkerchief Tree frame a tapestry of box-edged parterres bursting with glorious Bearded Irises in late May/early June.
A spectacular pageant of spring bulbs begins in early February with wonderful Snowdrops and Crocus Thomasianus, continuing through March and early April with drifts of Lent Lilies and our unique collection of heritage Daffodils, Aconites and Snake Head Fritillaries until May when our famous Irises steal the show in the West Garden. There are also winter-flowering and scented shrubs, Rhododendron, and an underlying structure is given by topiary and some wonderful trees – the ancient, contorted Sweet Chestnuts that overlook the croquet lawn are still productive.
Meandering paths lead you to our Temple of the Winds built by Antony Jarvis in memory of his parents, a turf maze that he made in the 1980s, and if you look hard you may find the ‘dinosaur’s egg’ (a large boulder that he put in the branches of a field maple tree to surprise the grandchildren).
A nature trail starting from just beyond the Temple at the end of the Garden follows a circular route back to the ‘ha ha’ at the end of the Yew avenue and provides a pleasant and interesting walk of about a mile. The route passes through woodlands, open parkland and a wetland meadow from where the clay was dug to make the bricks to build Doddington.
Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the formerly neglected two-acre Walled Kitchen Garden was restored to its former productive glory in 2007. Just a stone’s throw from the Hall, the Kitchen Garden now provides an abundance of fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs which take centre stage on the Café and Restaurant menus and are regularly for sale in our Farm Shop.
Using organic techniques, biological control methods and crop rotation, David Logan, our Head Gardener and his team are able to naturally maximise productivity and minimise pests so we have no need for chemical fertilizers, weed killers or pesticides.
The Kitchen Gardens also form an important part of our educational programme and our varied Kitchen Garden based workshops give children a truly hands-on outdoors experience.
As well as hosting a number of fun activities for children during the year, the Kitchen Garden is also the venue for a number of regular cooking demonstrations and floristry and gardening workshops. Find out more about our Kitchen Garden here.
Please note only registered assistance dogs are allowed in the gardens.