Helmsley Walled Garden, credit: Colin Dilcock

Get the look – Helmsley Walled Garden

Discover the vibrant flower beds at this 18th-century garden and how you can recreate a similar style at home

Sitting in the shadow of the ruins of Helmsley Castle, this North Yorkshire garden provides a therapeutic setting for volunteers and visitors to relax in. The glorious hot borders at the centre of the garden are vibrant with colour in late summer and act as a magnet for pollinators, while the stunning Garden of Contemplation offers an intimate and tranquil space to relax.

Here, the gardeners at Helmsley Walled Garden share their expertise for how you can replicate a relaxing outdoor space in your own garden.

Sitting in the shadow of the ruins of Helmsley Castle, this North Yorkshire garden provides a therapeutic setting for volunteers and visitors to relax in. The glorious hot borders at the centre of the garden are vibrant with colour in late summer and act as a magnet for pollinators, while the stunning Garden of Contemplation offers an intimate and tranquil space to relax.

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Here, the gardeners at Helmsley Walled Garden share their expertise for how you can replicate a relaxing outdoor space in your own garden.

You can also visit Helmsley Walled Garden, using your 2-for-1 card – find out more.


What are the keys to success with your planting style?

Think carefully about your plants. It all comes down to right plant, right place, as the late Beth Chatto always said. For instance, Alison’s Garden (the garden celebrating the life of Alison Ticehurst, who brought the garden back from dereliction) has lots of trees and ground cover. It’s a woodland garden and there are plenty of shade lovers that spread gradually to make it a gentle and relaxed place to be.

The area around the Dipping Pond, the Garden of Contemplation and the White Garden are more formal areas and, as such, the planting reflects that with a mix of shrubs, herbaceous perennials and annuals.

Lily of the valley is an excellent ground cover plant for a shady border or woodland garden
Lily of the valley is an excellent ground cover plant for a shady border or woodland garden

What should people think about when designing their home garden?

Think carefully about what you want to achieve. Don’t try and cram too many different plants in. Plan for different parts of the garden to shine at different times of year.

Here, spring brings the Long Border, full of bulbs to the fore, followed by blossom in the orchards and on all the fruit trees round the walls. The end of May brings out the Laburnum Arch and Iris Border, closely followed by the peonies in the Long Border. Summer is all about the Hot Border and the Clematis Garden, while autumn brings seed heads galore throughout the whole garden and fruit and veg from the orchard and Kitchen Garden.

A good place to start is to think about what you want the garden to look like in winter. If you plan the architectural structure of winter, then the rest of the garden will develop around that and you have a space that is beautiful all year round.

Clematis 'Princess Diana' has striking pink flowers from late summer to early autumn
Clematis ‘Princess Diana’ has striking pink flowers from late summer to early autumn

What are some star plants that you’d recommend?

All the above mentioned plants, plus perennials such as Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’, Kniphofia (red-hot pokers), Rudbeckia fulgida deamii. Annuals like Ammi majus and visnaga, wallflowers, zinnias. Grasses are great for movement and year-round interest.

Shrubs and small trees that offer something year round are also good if you have the space. A lot of the Japanese acers have lovely fresh foliage in spring, fabulous autumn colour and interesting bark, providing winter interest. Or there are shrubs like Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’. The list really is endless.

Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet'
Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’ has a long flowering season when deadheaded regularly

What are the main considerations when growing these plants at home?

I would never recommend planting something that is likely to get too big for the space. Trees and shrubs never look as good if they have to be regularly pruned back all the time. The acers are really slow growers so if space is an issue, a couple of young plants are likely to be no more than 60cm high.

Persian lilac is another great shrub that doesn’t get too big, or try Prunus serrula for a tree that doesn’t get too large. You will have to split the perennials periodically but that just gives you more plants, which sounds like a win-win to me.

Acer palmatum 'Beni-otake'
Acer palmatum ‘Beni-otake’ is a medium-sized acer with gorgeous deep-red foliage

Visit Helmsley Walled Garden

Helmsley Walled Garden is taking part in our 2-for-1 Garden Entry scheme 2021. Find out more about how to use your discount to visit the garden.

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For more information about the garden, visit the Helmsley Walled Garden website.

Sitting in the shadow of the ruins of Helmsley Castle, this North Yorkshire garden provides a therapeutic setting for volunteers and visitors to relax in. The glorious hot borders at the centre of the garden are vibrant with colour in late summer and act as a magnet for pollinators, while the stunning Garden of Contemplation offers an intimate and tranquil space to relax.

Here, the gardeners at Helmsley Walled Garden share their expertise for how you can replicate a relaxing outdoor space in your own garden.

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