Fern Gardens and Woodland Walk

The Fern Glade or ‘jungle’ and the Woodland Walk form a pleasant route by which to return to the Terrace or Glasshouses after touring the lower portion of the garden. The site was originally excavated and landscaped in a naturalistic style as a Fern Walk between the years of 1862 and 1868 at the height of the fern collecting frenzy popularly known as ‘Pteridomania’.

Over the years though, any trace of this past was lost as interest was focused elsewhere until all that was left was the hollow sandstone gully.The redevelopment of the site began in 1996 with the terracing of the banks and the siting of steps at the eastern end. The landscaping of the site has continued including the enlargement of the pool and the installation of drainage to channel spring water into it.

Due to the unique mild micro-climate produced by the surrounding holly trees, it was decided to create a fernery that also incorporated an upper canopy of architectural plants of marginal hardiness. This experiment emulates those of the Victorian gardeners who freely tried newly introduced plant species outdoors.

The final result is a shady glade with a distinctly tropical feel that offers a welcome rest on a hot sunny day in summer.

From the top of the Fern Walk you can turn back down the Woodland Glade, with its collection of native trees and shrubs or make that final push on the ascent to the Pavilion restaurant for a well earned cup of tea!