Broughton Grange Wonderful NGS Gardens in Oxfordshire!

Aug 12, 2019 - POSTED BY Monique Halloran - Gardeners Choice

Broughton Grange was owned for 200 years by the Morrell family until it was sold in 1992. The gardens are set in 350 acres and since the change of ownership have been undergoing significant and interesting changes.  In 2001 the award winning landscape designer Tom Stuart Smith was asked to transform a south facing, sloping field, and he designed 3 magnificent terraced gardens, each corresponding to the next but unique in themselves. The top terrace is the warm Mediterranean terrace, with a small green house and some edible plants, among which were some brilliant ‘step over’ apple and pear trees that backed a highly scented beautiful row of lavender, see photo 2. Photo 3 shows the ‘hot’ borders with the blood red Hemerocalis Stafford, tall waving Achilleas, lovely grey green Euporbia Griffithii Fireglow and in the distance a clipped hedge with an archway to lead your eye to the natural landscape beyond.  

One of the best parts of the design of these terraces to my mind, are the multiple axes that designer Tom Stuart Smith has created. As described on the Broughton Grange website: ‘There are 2 sizable beech (Fagus sylvatica) tunnels on the eastern side of the garden and 3 pleached lime (Tilia x europea ‘Pallida’) squares to the west, one per terrace, which are under planted with sweet box (Sarcococca confusa). The pleached lime structures frame a formal vista to the south, which incorporates hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and yew (Taxus baccata) topiary specimens. See photos 4 and 5 to look at two of the vistas created.

From the top terrace a rill cascades down to the middle terrace and into a large stone tank with floating stepping stones. This peaceful water feature is home to lots of fish and floating water lilies and has a stone patio at the back where one could relax and enjoy the view. From the far edge of this terrace you get the best view of the spectacular lower terrace with its stunning, slighting curving parterre of clipped box. The parterre pattern was not randomly drawn, but is the pattern of ‘the microscopic cellular structure of beech, ash and oak leaves’ magnified thousands of times!  What a brilliant idea!

Since 2003 there have been further developments in the gardens at Broughton Grange which include a peat garden, wild flower meadows and an arboretum.  This diversity makes these gardens especially interesting.  As you leave the 3 terraces on your way to the other gardens, you are greeted by some laughing stone statues one of which you will see in photo 8.  This then leads you onto a formal terrace with a stunning raised Italian style fountain, and then down into the developing Peat Garden, and the natural beauty of wild flower meadows.  Broughton Grange are undertaking a massive project to develop an 80 acre arboretum, which will be one of the largest in the whole of the UK! You can feel the passion and the pleasure that these gardens must bring to the owners and to the dedicated team of 4 full time gardeners. They will be open one more time for the NGS this year, on September 15th, and are definitely worth a visit! The last photo depicts the creative skill of the gardeners. Just look at the explosion of colour planted in these beautiful terracotta planters!