Dossier: Paisatges sonors - Observatori del Paisatge

Informació
a la premsa

29 de desembre de 2012

Great garden restoration projects

The Telegraph (Regne Unit) [Crònica]

Foto
Foto
Foto

For those steering garden restorations, these are exciting times. Not only are research methods more sophisticated – field archaeology is now routinely used and tools such as aerial photography reveal historical features – but the amount of money available, compared with, say, the early Eighties, is staggering.

Recent completions say it all: Chiswick House, £12 million; Victoria Park in East London, £12 million, Great Dixter, £8 million and Lowther Castle, which is midway through its project, £9 million. The "seismic shift" in funding, as Dominic Cole, chairman of the Garden History Society, describes it, owes much to the existence of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which currently has £375 million a year to invest in heritage projects in Britain, and to the Big Lottery Fund, which has allocated £5 million this year for the rejuvenation of parks and cemeteries in England.

This doesn't mean fund-raising is easy. Organisations such as English Heritage and the National Trust rely on teams of skilled fund-raisers – but as John Watkins, head of gardens and landscapes at English Heritage, explains, "gardens are now assessed in the same way as other heritage assets, where once they felt like add-ons."

Garden owners have to think much wider than historical accuracy. They must get the visitors in (and keep them coming back). So from the start they have to provide "two Ps and T": somewhere to park, to pee and to take tea. Even Lowther, which aims to keep the romantic "lost garden" feel of the former Chatsworth of the North, opened with the Stable Courtyard reborn as a café and exhibition centre.

Another noticeable change is the extent to which volunteers are being used. The Olympic Games Makers sparked a surge of interest in volunteering around the country. In part, using volunteers is pragmatic: they can free up the trained gardeners to do the more skilled tasks. But it is also a key element in the sustainability of these gardens. In some cases, such as at Battersea Park, volunteers have formed themselves into friends groups and are driving the recovery of their green spaces.

The long-term future of parks is less certain. Although many have had well-funded restorations through the Parks for People programme – eight major regenerations were completed in London alone this year – local authority cuts are already biting, raising the prospect of friends groups or private trusts taking on their management. Here are 10 of the UK's best restored spaces.

WREST PARK, SILSOE, BEDFORSHIRE

Two years ago an HLF grant of £1.14 million kick-started a 20-year restoration project at this 90-acre historic garden. Previously owned by the de Grey family, with help from Thomas Wright, Batty Langley and Capability Brown, Wrest is now in the custodianship of English Heritage, which is tackling the formal gardens close to the house first. This "best kept secret" is gradually revealing the elements, including the Versailles-like Long Water punctuated by the baroque Thomas Archer pavilion, that explain its Grade 1 listing. The Ladies Lake, restored and refilled, is now presided over by the statue of Diana that first stood there in the 1730s. The French Parterre, meanwhile, has been restored to its early 20th-century design of patterned box-edged beds, giant Versailles planters planted with Portuguese laurels and pencil junipers. In 2013 the American Garden will be restored(01223 582700; english-heritage.org.uk).

LOWTHER CASTLE AND GARDENS, PENRITH, CUMBRIA

This recently rescued garden was originally laid out in the 1690s in French Baroque style, and remodelled in Edwardian times when it acquired 20 individual gardens. The aim of the £8.9 million restoration is to preserve the romantic atmosphere of the garden's ruined follies and temples, and the facade of the castle.

Only a few areas, such as the Japanese Garden and ha-ha, will be accurately reinstated. The 130 acres surrounding the castle, which has one of the earliest viewing terraces, will be managed for biodiversity. Dominic Cole executed the initial landscaping and Dan Pearson is developing the planting plans, which will form the final phase of the restoration (01932 712192; lowthercastle.org).

VICTORIA PARK, LONDON E2

London's oldest public park was famous, in Victorian times, for its bedding displays. Today, after a £12 million redevelopment masterminded by LDA Design and completed in time for the Olympics, the style is more naturalistic, with areas of wild flowers and the redesigned Old English Garden, by Sarah Price, flowing with perennials and grasses. The Chinese pagoda, demolished in the Fifties, has been recreated on a new island in the boating lake and is reached by a bridge modelled on the one on architect James Pennethorne's original plans, but never built. A community centre, new playgrounds and an area for skateboarding have been added to the eastern side of the park (020 7364 2494; towerhamlets.gov.uk).

SPRINGHILL, MONEYMORE, CO LONDONDERRY, N. IRELAND

A six-year National Trust restoration of the walled Dutch Garden at this 17th-century plantation home of the Lenox-Conyngham family involved carting all materials in and out by hand through the narrow front door. The design, featuring box-edged central beds filled with scented roses underplanted with tulips, is based on an old photograph (028 8674 8210; nationaltrust.org.uk/springhill).

FESTIVAL GARDENS, LIVERPOOL

Created on the banks of the Mersey for the 1984 International Garden Festival, this new public park has been built on 3 6 hectares acres of the original site – the rest is earmarked for a housing development. The gardens, funded by developer Langtree and opened this summer, retain some original elements, such as the oriental gardens with a Moon Wall and two pagodas. New features include lakes, waterfalls and a woodland trail (07795 800970; liverpoolfestivalgardens.com).

HACKFALL, GREWELTHORPE, NORTH YOURKSHIRE

Winner of heritage organisation Europa Nostra's European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage in 2011, Hackfall's wooded landscape garden, was laid out with follies, grottoes, water features and walks in the mid-18th century by William Aislabie, the owner of nearby Studley Royal. The estate was rescued by the Woodland Trust and the Hackfall Trust and, with an injection of £1  million from the HLF, is revealed once more. The fountain, which stopped working in the early 1800s, now shoots up dramatically from a tufa island and it just remains for the overgrown cascade known as the Weeping Rock to be restored (hackfall.org.uk; phil@grewelthorpe.org.uk).

BOTANIC GARDEN, OXFORD

This summer saw the first flowering of the new Merton Borders, which form the largest single cultivated area at the garden, with species from dry grassland communities in the central and southern United States, South Africa and southern Europe. It is the culmination of a five-year re-landscaping by landscape architect Kim Wilkie that joins the lower part of the garden with the upper. The long-flowering borders, sown from seed, have been designed by James Hitchmough to be more sustainable than traditional herbaceous borders (01865 286690; botanic-garden.ox.ac.uk).

MYDDLETON HOUSE, ENFIELD, LONDON

The replacement of three interconnecting Victorian greenhouses in the Kitchen Gardens of renowned plantsman E A Bowles's eight-acre gardens with aluminium-framed replicas designed by Alitex marks the latest stage in this three-year restoration. Key features include a sunken glasshouse for fruit such as melons and cucumbers, a vine house with brick arches to allow the roots to establish outside the glasshouse and four climatic zones (08456 770600; visitleevalley.org.uk).

OLD ENGLISH GARDEN, BATTERSEA PARK, LONDON

The unusual alliance of a council (Wandsworth), a gardening charity (Thrive), a commercial television station (QVC), volunteers (Friends of Battersea Park), topped up by two-year funding by a perfumery company (Jo Malone Limited), has enabled the regeneration of this floriferous enclosed garden in the middle of Battersea Park, south London. Originally laid out by Lt Col John Saxby, it has been undergoing major restoration since 2000. Cleaned up in the Eighties, the garden retains the original central pool and pergola but the planting, redesigned by Sarah Price, is a contemporary mix of grasses, perennials and bulbs (020 8871 6000; wandsworth.gov.uk; batterseapark.org).

 

© 2009/2017 Observatori del Paisatge de Catalunya / Hospici, 8 - 17800 OLOT - Tel: +34 972 27 35 64 · observatori@catpaisatge.net