The formal gardens at Leeds Castle are one of the most notable attractions of the landscape across the 500 acre estate offering visitors colour and interest all year round. Head Gardener Andrew McCoryn takes a ‘hands-on’ approach to growing, planting, weeding and pruning supported by a highly capable and creative team of five gardeners. A key part of Andrew’s role is to oversee special projects such as the introduction of formal gardens on Castle Island, restoration of the Rockery at the Barbican and developing new breeds of flowers.
Andrew’s mission is to ensure visitors are entertained by a truly immersive experience with the formal gardens providing that all important reason to visit again and again. “The easy part of my job is developing the themes already set for each of the gardens chosen by the former owners of Leeds Castle from Lady Baillie in the 1930s to the Wykeham Martin family in the 1800s, to various kings and queens in medieval times,” Andrew explains.
“The challenge is to identify the conditions for each of the gardens and choose plants and flowers that will compliment the setting to ensure they thrive and flourish in their local environment. For example the top of the rockery is dry and arid so Turkish bulbs are best suited, while the bottom is dark and wet, best suited to bog plants and mossy ferns.”
On Castle Island Andrew and his team have created a ventricular-designed landscape garden to reflect the more formal setting around the Castle, while providing historic relevance. Over 100 White Lavenders, Potentilla Roses, Anemones, Tulips and Magnolias evoke an ancient feel and a three dimensional element, while a colour palate of whites, creams, greens and silvers create an ethereal look.
“The Magnolia family were chosen to reflect the near 900 year history of the Castle, in fact they were the first flower family to exist and were pollenated by beetles!” Andrew reveals. An appreciation and interest in history is an asset to gardening at Leeds Castle, as Andrew has discovered with his latest project to restore the rockery at The Barbican back to the design created by Lady Baillie in the 1930s.
“Gardening is about using your eyes to see things” Andrew enthuses. “I hope visitors will enjoy the colour and variety of our traditional English cottage Culpeper Garden in contrast to the illusion and theatre of the Lady Baillie Mediterranean Garden and the subtle grandeur of the Castle Island.”
To discover more about Leeds Castle gardens, join Andrew or one of the gardening team for an interesting and enjoyable walk around the formal gardens every Wednesday at 12 noon (meet outside the Fairfax restaurant). To arrange a pre-booked group visit to see the gardens of Leeds Castle contact Group bookings on Tel 01622 767865 or email [email protected]