I visited Lowther Castle near Penrith this week. These are magnificent ruins set in huge grounds scattered with the reminders of past eras. Roman baths and pillars intermingle with the remains of abandoned Victorian Iris gardens and huge ancient rocky stone steps lead into woodland rock gardens covered in ostrich ferns, mosses and lichens.
Outside the main ruin Dan Pearson has created a fabulous perennial Parterre Tapestry Garden full of billowing Thalictrum, Astrantia and Actaea. Most of this was at the end of it’s season when I saw it, but the colours and seedbeds still provide interest and promise. I will definitely go back earlier next year to get the full effect and to see the wildflower meadows that lie beyond in flower.
Within the ruin itself he has planted a romantic garden which nestles into the stones, doorways and windows in a naturalistic but magical and slightly fairytale way. His use of grasses and vines, hydrangeas and birches makes you feel as if you are walking though history and are about to discover something hidden for years. It feels as close to a secret garden as you can get.