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VIDEO: ‘Secret’ gardens go back on public show

HISTORIC gardens hidden in a popular tourist attraction have been opened to the public after being boarded up for more than 100 years.

Visitors to Biddulph Grange Gardens will now have access to the Victorian garden, created by James Bateman in the mid 19th century.

The lush plot cost around £5,000 to restore and gardeners and volunteers helped replant the area over a period of two years.

Garden Manager, Paul Walton, said the new garden had been largely unused since Robert Heath owned Biddulph Grange in the late 1800s.


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The National Trust took over the estate in 1988, but kept the area closed off to visitors.

Paul said: “Except to make sure it is safe and to check on a few of the trees in that area, no-one has really entered the garden for a very long time.

“It was very overgrown and the gravel paths were covered up.

“In Robert Heath’s time he would used the area to entertain guests. He had a team of around 60 gardens and what they achieved at Biddulph Grange in terms of building and landscaping is fabulous.”

The new garden features a carefully crafted Victorian style bridge over a pond and even has its own micro-climate suited to plants that grow in damp weather, like ferns.

Paul explained the layout of 17 acre Biddulph Grange allowed visitors to explore and ‘stumble’ upon hidden areas and themed gardens.

It features collections of rhododendrons, summer bedding displays, a dahlia walk in late summer and the oldest surviving golden larch in Britain, brought from China in the 1850s.

Paul said: “There aren’t many gardens where you can go on a global journey from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, through China and a Himalayan glen.

“And this garden complements the flow. You could easily miss it and when you’re in it you can’t see any of the other gardens.

“One of the really interesting things about it is that because of its position it feels much cooler and more damp than the Chinese garden which is really quite hot.

“The gardeners who worked on this estate were years ahead of their time when they designed these gardens.”

The garden has now been open for two weeks and is attracting back visitors who want to see the previously unexplored area.

Paul added: “We’ve had so many wonderful comments about the garden.

“It’s been a long process and our volunteers and staff have put in a huge amount of work but I think the result is well worth the effort.”

Margaret Chell, from Knypersley, visits the garden regularly with her grandchildren.

The 74-year-old said: “It’s a stunning addition to the gardens. I came along for the first time last week.

“It was thrilling to step into the garden for the first time because I come here so often and I’d barely noticed that it was there before.

“They’ve done a marvellous job of restoring it, it really feels like it could be a Victorian garden.”

Pip Barrett, aged 69, also from Knypersley, is also a huge admirer of the gardens, and is fascinated by their historical background.

He said: “When you stop and think that people created these gardens hundreds of years ago it’s astounding.

“I’m sure I shall return in the spring to see the new flowers in bloom.”

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Article source: http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/VIDEO-Secret-gardens-public/story-19891009-detail/story.html