planting in a country estate in Surrey


They’re magnificent, regal, breathtaking and impressive on a grand scale. Large country estates have dominated Britain’s landscape for hundreds of years – but their huge size and diverse range of micro- environments can make them challenging and complex to maintain. Country schemes need an expert approach – especially if there are specific objectives in mind regarding cost and appearance.

High maintenance

Large country estates are high maintenance by nature. They require regular attention not only to look their best, but to be contained to avoid situations where acres of overgrown shrubs and waist-high grass can become an expensive burden. These three photographs show an impressive six-acre garden near Tarporley in Cheshire. Compared with others of ten or more acres it could be classed as ‘small’, yet this property’s grounds need a full time gardener in attendance five days per week.

6 acre garden

garden near Tarporley Cheshire

garden near Tarporley

A specialised approach

Grounds belonging to country estates, stately homes and larger properties undoubtedly require a specialist approach. An experienced professional who understands and appreciates the intricacies involved in such a wide expanse of greenery is needed in order to help homeowners to maintain and realign existing garden schemes, enabling them to make the most out of their space.

Often older estates need a more focused eye, as they require a lot of work to remain in a good state of health, but they may also need to be adapted to suit the objectives of contemporary owners. For example, adding a large lawn area to replace costly and temperamental raised beds is one obvious way to keep maintenance costs down where the financial implications of upkeep are a concern. Alternatively older schemes can be renovated or transformed to restore them to their former state of grandeur and glory – giving a garden a new lease of life for commercial or touristic purposes.

Many British gardens feature European influences – Italian in particular. Often those wealthy enough to possess swathes of land suitable for country estates sourced exotic plants from far-flung corners of the earth. These can make modern-day gardens sites of botanical and historical interest, but plants of this nature of course need special attention.

Balancing elegance and sophistication with nature

One important aspect of gardening within country estates is maintaining the delicate equilibrium between nature and magnificent man-made structures; including ponds, sculptures, pathways and follies. When money (and land) is no object, different micro-cultures can be created to inject different flavours into the garden – from rugged wild meadows and dark forested areas to carefully-sculpted box hedge arrangements and patios. This enables a space to maintain the perfect mix of style and substance – with flexibility to implement a range of areas depending on taste, preference and necessity.

Attracting guests of all kinds

Many homes with grounds needing constant attention are privately owned, but some are still in possession of organisations and charities entrusted with their preservation. Many have been repurposed as hotels, schools and museums. Each type of garden has different requirements and objectives to suit the nature of the building which resides within it. Aside from the obvious financial gains to be made from grand estates, there are also environmental advantages, as with so much land it’s easier to make a difference by implementing small schemes which are loved by local wildlife.

When land isn’t in short supply one way to attract the birds and the bees is to designate space purely for ecological purposes. This could involve apportioning an area as a wild garden, sowing flowers and wheat crops to create a wildlife meadow (pictured) or planting copses with native trees and shrubs (like Prunus Spinosa). These will all inevitably attract a large variety of wildlife – and may even form much-needed habitats for rarer species. Wooded areas for example are perfect for woodpeckers, owls and endangered dormice, whilst a specially-created wildlife pond, stream or lake will appeal to waterside birds such as herons, coots and kingfishers – with possibly even an otter or a water vole.

wildlflower meadow scheme in Lancashire

For more on specialist garden schemes and landscape design, take a look at our related blog posts here.