The Garden Guide

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

Elvaston Castle Garden

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This garden is surrounded by a terrace of yew trees, the inward line forming arches, and paneled with Cydonia japonica, and with araucarias in the open spaces. Another is an Italian garden, richly furnished with vases, statues (many of which are of grotesque forms), richly gilt, basins, fountains and other works of art. A third consists of open lawns, bounded by yews, and by trees of the pine and fir tribe. There is a fourth flower-garden just commenced, with the flower beds arranged in architectural forms, bounded by masonry. In this garden, which, like all the others, is characterised by evergreens, there are hedges of the evergreen mahonias, and beds of all the rare evergreen plants that are to be procured in British nurseries. Three of these gardens with ornamental plantations are on the entrance front of the castle, and it is quite impossible for any one who has merely passed rapidly through them, as we did, to do them anything like justice without the aid of plans and views. Among the numerous things which struck us as new and extraordinary, were plinths of soil forming pedestals to large yew trees, which were procured when full grown from different parts of the country, wherever they could be found large, or cut into curious shapes; while smaller yew trees were planted at the base of the plinths, and trained over them. The solemn gloom cast over part of the grounds by these yew trees produces an effect never to be forgotten, which harmonises with the fine old ivy-covered church adjoining the castle, which towers proudly above them, and is also in part clothed with ivy. Another front of the house looks down the immense avenue already mentioned, which is upwards of a mile and a half in length; and the third front looks on a modern lawn, with flower beds, bounded by an extensive artificial lake, beyond which, and extending all along the north side, is a plantation just formed of Cedrus Deodara: all the ground behind these cedars (forming the three front lines) is partly, and will shortly, be entirely planted with the finest of the pine and fir tribe; as Picea grandis, nobilis, amabilis, and Webbiana; Pinus Sabiniana, Coulteri, insignis, ponderosa, Lambertiana, monticola, and excelsa; connecting it with the park. There are caves, grottoes, bridges, mounts, statues, and various other ornaments in this part of the pleasure-ground which we cannot recollect or describe. The castle is a magnificent building externally; and the interior contains some spacious apartments, well arranged, and richly furnished and fitted up, with curious carving, gilding, stained glass, pictures, and sculptures. The offices are very complete, and the kitchen, the dairy, and the larder, are particularly deserving of notice; the latter is a lofty tower, placed over the ice-house.