Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Changing of the Garden

 From Tatler:

Charles Maurice Petty-Fitzmaurice, 9th Marquis of Lansdowne, is passionate about soil acidity. A surprising interest, perhaps, for the businessman, peer and Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, but one that has served him well at his family seat in Wiltshire. ‘Bowood is extraordinarily fortunate, as there’s a range of soils here,’ he says. How is that fortunate? He laughs. ‘Plants only grow where they want to grow.’

 It certainly does seem that a dazzling variety of plants want to grow across the 4,000-acre estate – and have done for centuries, thanks to green-fingered marquesses past and present. William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne (who became the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne in 1784) commissioned Capability Brown to design the 1,000-acre park in 1762 for a fee of 30 guineas – roughly £5,500 today. The undulating landscape is dotted with perfectly positioned oak and beech trees and a 700-species-strong arboretum. The south-facing Terrace Gardens, which today are edged with box hedging and filled with formal beds of seasonal tulips, alliums, Corinda geraniums and fragrant roses, were added by the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, to remind him of his time in Italy. But it is the Woodland Gardens, which the 3rd Marquess laid out in 1854, planted with 300 rare hybrids of rhododendrons, magnolias and azaleas, that would delight his soil-savvy successors the most. (Read more.)


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