There’s nothing quite like exploring the grand gardens of a country house on a sunny day. During the last heatwave, I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to head to Cheshire to wander around Arley Hall and its gardens. While the hall might have been shut on our visit, there was plenty in the gardens to keep us entertained.
Arley Hall was built between 1832 and 1845 by Rowland Edgerton-Warburton and designed by local Nantwich architect George Latham. It is central to the grounds so has a wonderful view over the fields and gardens. If you are around my age, you might recognise the hall from a 90’s TV show. It was used as the set for the Cluedo programme with an all-star cast including Jerry Hall and Christopher Biggins. It is something of a claim to fame for kids growing up around the area.
One of my favourite features of the hall is the chimneys showing a variety of formed bricks and brickwork. A bit of showing off on the number and style was certainly a thing in its time.
A true benefit to visiting Arley Hall and gardens at the peak of summer is that you get to enjoy the herbaceous border in full bloom. A corridor of flowers set into a deep border with a neatly trimmed hedge as the backdrop. I remember visiting here when my Mum was studying for her Horticulture qualification. It was a magical place with a timeless style. I also still remember thinking that the topiary in this part of the garden was based on old tills or typewriters because of the form!
Of course, a garden of this magnitude doesn’t just rely on herbaceous plants to bring interest to the space. There are plenty of other rooms (small pocket gardens with different themes or uses) throughout. Areas filled with all kinds of textures and shapes made up solely of foliage. Leaves and branches forming the body of the space. This kind of garden is a favourite of mine – especially when they are evergreen, as it means there is year-round interest.
Meandering and exploring
With the winding paths taking you through the garden, it is easy to get carried away walking and exploring. I think we were wandering through the gardens for well over an hour – taking into account the times we stopped for a moment to enjoy some shelter from the beating sunshine. The glasshouse was delightfully heady with the scent of flowers and tomato foliage (definitely an acquired taste). I have been in the process of choosing a rather scaled-down greenhouse for my garden, so have been enjoying gathering inspiration for planting.
I really favour architectural and slightly tropical-looking plants. It was something of a style I added to the garden at my old house.
The shelter provided by the Japanese Maple was a welcome break from the sunshine. It covered and led us down into the sunken part of the gardens where there were more beautiful plants.
Unfortunately, for a born and bred Northerner, the heat started to get to me, so we had to hunt out some shade. Thankfully the cafe sold vegan sorbet, so we were able to treat ourselves and sit in the shade savouring the sour and sweet tang of the raspberry in our cooling snack. It was so nice to be able to eat something like this as I often get forgotten when it comes to ice cream style things!
The break from the sun was just enough to give us a second wind for a walk around the gardens in the opposite direction. Taking in the walled gardens and vegetables before a final round in the nursery (which was actually reasonably priced!)
A lovely day out
I’ll admit that Arley Hall is not the cheapest place to visit at £10 per person, but there really is plenty to look at and explore if you enjoy gardens and plants, and even more when the hall is open to visitors too.
To make even more of your visit, there is a route around the outskirts of Arley, which is also enjoyable – you can read a bit more about that in my post from 2016.