Ravine & Azalea Dell
In the early 1930s, the 9th Duke’s wife Evelyn – in collaboration with the head gardener, J. G. Weston – created the Ravine and the Azalea Dell in the south of the garden. These areas of planting were clearly in the ‘woodland garden’ fashion as extoled by influential horticulturists William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll who favoured ‘wild’ or ‘natural’ gardens over traditional formal gardens.
A stream was dammed at intervals to make several pools. Planting included Primula, ferns, Meconopsis, Berberis, Viburnum, Buddleja, and Rhododendron. The Rhododendron on the ‘cliff-like side’ were left alone except for a narrow path which was cut among them, and accessed by means of a rustic bridge which spanned the upper part of the ravine.
This area was neglected during the Second World War, but partially restored in the 1980s by Duchess Deborah.
More recently, further work has been carried out in this area. The path now meanders across the stream in several places and the pools have been enlarged. As is the case throughout the garden, all the Rhododendron ponticum has been removed as a precaution to stop the spread of Phytophthera ramorum. As a result of this, the ‘cliff-like side’ of the Ravine was replanted in 2013.
Twice a year the shrubs in the Azalea Dell give a memorable performance. In late May the solid mass of Double Ghent azaleas and Rhododendron luteum combine to make a heady aroma and in the autumn the leaves colour very well.