Cholmondeley Castle is a 19th century fake Gothic, hilltop home, but its gardens are for real. Laid out when the castle was built by the 1st marquess of Cholmondeley in 1801-1804, they cover a vast area. From 1951 through 1974 the gardens and plantings were cleaned up, added to, and altered. A deer park mere, home to waterfowl and fish, sets off the entry. Lawns sweep down the hillside. Cedars of Lebanon, spreading oaks, sweet chestnut, lime, plane, and beech adorn the lawns.
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In early spring camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, bluebells, and magnolias bloom. Wild orchids, buttercups, and daisies enhance the landscaped setting. A golden canopied laburnum grove and a rose garden add to the attractions, along with herbaceous plants and shrubs. Pampas grass, waterlilies, and royal fern add to the mix in autumn.
A cherry walk leads between Japanese cherry trees. On the ground are blue flowering anemone appenina. Along the terrace wall walk are spring bulbs, mid-summer blooming sprays of white roses, and many other varieties of flowering plants that include jasmine and hibiscus.
Bamboo thrives along the damp tearoom path. It’s mixed with hellebore, narcissus, and primula. In the glade garden are a magnolia, a bed of phlox, rhododendron, and spiraea, and other flowering plants and shrubs. A walk through the glade leads to the rose garden, completed in 1950.
Four herbaceous borders sit below the rose garden where flowers are intermingled with shrubs. The Temple garden, entered through a stone gatehouse is home to a lake populated with giant Koi carp. Small islands in the lake are connected by wooden bridges to the land. The temple sits on one of these. Specimen trees dot the Temple garden landscape. A ‘snowdrop tree’ blooms in May. A waterfall and rockery add beauty to the area.
In addition to the gardens, a gift shop, tearoom, plant sales, and rare breeds farm animals make Cholmondeley a great family day out. Animals include llamas, Shetland ponies, pigs, sheep, and African pygmy goats.
Cholmondeley Castle Gardens
Malplas, Cheshire, SY14 8AH
Tel/Fax. 01829 720383
Open: April-Sep, Wed, Thu, Sun, and B H Mon; 11.30am-5pm plus various other dates and times. Check Historic Houses Association website for full details.
The castle is not open to the public.
Note: It was raining and cold when we visited so did not get photos that due justice to this lovely garden.