The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: From London to Sheffield in the Spring of 1839

Elvaston Castle

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Elvaston Castle; the Seat of the Earl of Harrington. - We had frequently heard this place described as a modern Palagonia, and we knew that it contained an excellent collection of the pine and fir tribe, and also of Cupressinï¾µ and Taxaceï¾µ. We were therefore most anxious to see it, and, through the kindness of the proprietor, our wishes have been gratified. The situation is flat, or at least without any striking inequalities; but there are some fine old avenues, one of which is nearly a mile and a half in length, but the effect is that of an avenue of ten miles, in consequence of the ground beyond falling below the level of the surface where the avenue commences at the house. Upwards of seven years ago all the trees and hedges were cleared away for nearly seven miles, which came in the line, and the view is now uninterrupted until the eye rests upon the hills in Nottinghamshire, at the distance of ten miles. The effect of these avenues has been heightened in an extraordinary degree, by the formation of new ones, chiefly of the upright or Irish yew. Two of these avenues, one upwards of 750 ft. in length, and 60 ft. in breadth, and the other 800 ft. in length, are planted, first, with upright yews, and next, with red cedars; with a third or back row, on each side of the avenue, of deodar cedars grafted on the cedar of Lebanon, in the side manner, as explained in our Arboretum Britannicum, and in the Gardener's Magezine, vol. xiv. p. 80. All these plants are thriving luxuriantly, and their effect will be striking in a very few years. Beyond one of these avenues, in a space occupying several acres, is an extensive collection of pines on the outside of a corresponding avenue. A similar space is allotted for the &&& including A'bies and Picea; the range of ground between these plantations at one end is planted with Cedrus Deodara and C. Libani, and at the other we find grouped Taxaceï¾µ and Cupressiaï¾µ, a list of which is given in our Arboretum. The trees are all planted on little hillocks of from 6 ft. to 10 ft. in diameter, and at the centre of each hillock, from 1 ft. to 2 ft. above the level of the adjoining surface. They are planled in rows, and are growing with extraordinary vigour; ample space being allowed for each plant to attain its normal dimensions. In aproaching the &&&, after passing through the second gate, the first group of plants passed through is of the numerous tribe; then a collection of bollies, including all the hardy species and varieties grown in this country, many of which are great &&&. A part of the approach road, after the first avenue terminates, is in a winding direction, bordered by evergreens, exhibiting masses, each consisting of trees of one species of Abietinï¾µ, Cupressinï¾µ, or &&&, or of box trees. The number of thujas, red cedars, white cedars, Irish yews, hemlock spruces, common yews, variegated common yews, and upright common yews, is quite astonishing. To produce immediate effect, and to serve as background to these comparatively young plants, large spruce firs have been transplanted (many of them of upwards of 50 ft. in height); and these trees being held fast in their situations by guy ropes, like the mast of a ship, scarcely one of them has failed. One cause of this is, that the trees were all taken up with balls, and not moved to any great distance; and another is, that the soil is everywhere loamy and moist at bottom. In approaching the castle, we pass what appears to be an immense forest of yews; but this forest, when examined in detail, is found to consist of a series of ancient flower-gardens, surrounded by and intermixed with yew hedges, and containing yew trees of large size, brought from all parts of the country, many of which have been clipped into curious shapes. Among these, in different positions, are placed numerous plants of Araucaria imbricata, variegated yews, and many of the rarest Coniferï¾µ. There are three extensive gardens of this sort, each occupying several acres. One, though recently planted, has quite an ancient character, with covered walks of arbor vitï¾µ, and flower-beds, &c. [Wikipedia: Elvaston Castle (full name Elvaston Castle Country Park) is a country park in Derbyshire, England with 200 acres of woodlands, parkland and formal gardens. The centrepiece of the estate is Elvaston Castle itself. Originally built in 1633, it was redesigned by James Wyatt in the early 1800s for the 3rd Earl of Harrington.In 1968, the estate was sold by the then Earl of Harrington to Derbyshire County Council. This coincided with the Countryside Act of the same year which proposed the creation of "country parks" "for the enjoyment of the countryside by the public". The council opened the estate to the public in 1970 and have operated it since then, as Elvaston Castle Country Park.]