September's Featured Garden
In recent years there has been a trend for stately homes, castles and other historical properties to restore their gardens in an attempt to reach a wider audience and encourage more visitors. Where no such previous garden existed, undeterred, property owners and managers have ploughed ahead with new garden designs and creations, with rather mixed results it has to be said. So, it is pleasing to visit Arundel Castle (a property which in 2006 did not even warrant a mention in the Daily Telegraph's Good Gardens Guide) and be able to say that the new garden created here in the past few years has turned Arundel into one of best gardens to visit in the south-east of England.
At its heart is the Collector Earl's Garden, a flamboyant formal garden with both Jacobean and Italianate influences, designed by award-winning garden designers Isobel and Julian Bannerman as a tribute to Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel (1585-1646), who was one of the first great English art collectors and consequently became known as 'The Collector Earl'. This new garden occupies around one third of Arundel's original Georgian and Victorian walled kitchen garden, which by the 1970s was largely derelict and until the Bannerman's arrival used as a car park!
Arundel Castle gardens
The Collector Earl's Garden
This new garden contains stunning green oak features, including columns, gateways, pavilions and a domed pergola, plus fountains, pools and cascades. The pergola and fountains are based on those seen in the background of a famous Mytens portrait of the Countess of Arundel painted around 1618, whilst the gateways and pavilions are influenced by Inigo Jones's designs for Arundel House dating from the early seventeenth century. Flamboyant this garden may be, but it is well researched and sits harmoniously within Arundel's historic setting.
The centrepiece is a rockwork mound, planted with palms, tree ferns, cordylines and large-leaved paulownias, upon which sits a green oak version of 'Oberon's Palace' containing shell-lined walls and a golden coronet 'dancing' upon a single water fountain.
The Collectors Earl's Garden is only part of Arundel's horticultural delights. The present Duke and Duchess of Norfolk have also transformed the rest of the walled garden, creating an organic kitchen garden, magnificent stumpery using old tree stumps from the estate, stunning herbaceous borders, a cut flower garden, tropical glasshouse, wild flower garden and a restored Victorian vine house. Beyond the walled garden look out for the ancient cork oak tree Quercus suber and the rose garden near the castle entrance.