Despite the drizzle, spirits were high as Steve Porter, Head of Gardens and Landscape, delivered a socially distanced walking tour of the current projects taking place in the garden to our Patrons this summer.
Patrons were given the chance to explore Arcadia, the biggest garden development at Chatsworth in recent times. The project is revitalising a 15-acre area of the garden. Designed by celebrated landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith, these ambitious plans will see a beautiful, contemporary layer added to the traditional garden foundations designed by Capability Brown and Joseph Paxton.
Arcadia will be a mixture of four glades, each with its own individual character created by the plant content. Glade one, for example, also known as the wet glade, will make use of moisture from the stream and harness pre-existing features such as the Emperor foundation pipe that runs underneath the glade for irrigation. The plant content will focus mainly on foliage and shrubs such as ferns, gunnera and swamp Cyprus with splashes of colour from primulas, rhododendrons and irises.
Covid-19 has created challenges across all aspects of work at Chatsworth. As the UK went into lockdown, the first delivery of over 30,000 plants arrived. With less staff onsite, planting was completed in just under three months (original time estimate was three weeks). As Tom Stuart-Smith was unable to visit the site, he created a planting schedule for the team to complete to the design specifications. In addition to Covid-19, the UK experienced one of the driest springs on record so ensuring the irrigation system was up and running was of vital importance.
As part of the Devonshire Group’s environmental policy we are committed to enhancing our environment and continuously reduce our impact on it. On way in Arcadia has helped achieve this is by challenging our growers to make the project plastic free. Whilst an immense task, we are proud to announce that this will be achieved in the next round of planting for October – 95% of all plants will be delivered in compostable pots, or in trays that will be reused once planting has taken place. This is a huge step forward for Chatsworth and will be looked at being implemented across future projects within the garden.
One garden feature that the Patrons were extremely interested to learn more about was the Cascade and the plans for its future. The structure was originally built during the time of the 1st Duke as the centrepiece of the formal gardens. It is one of the most important late 17th century designed water features in the UK and one of the most loved features of the garden.
In 1840 Joseph Paxton, alongside the 6th Duke, built the monumental Great Conservatory at Chatsworth. In order to heat the building carts of coal needed to be transported to through the garden to the underground boilers. As a way of hiding the coals journey through the garden the 6th Duke built a service tunnel under the Cascade, this was achieved by completely dismantling the Cascade, the tunnel was then built underneath and the Cascade rebuilt on top.
Throughout the latter part of the 20th century repair works were carried out on the steps of the Cascade, unfortunately the repairs left the stone very fragile and has enabled water to finds its way down through the steps and out into coal tunnel which is currently closed off to visitors. Whilst the structure is still sound, an extensive repair of this impressive garden feature is on the cards in the next few years. It is vital that the Cascade is conserved not only as a piece of architectural history but also for our visitors and future generations to enjoy.
Looking after Chatsworth and its collection requires constant attention, with conservation and maintenance needs to the fore. Many people care deeply about Chatsworth and its future – Patrons of Chatsworth play a significant role in helping us meet this need.
Find out more on how you can become a Patron today.
See what our Patrons had to say...
"Thank you very much for a great evening last night – it was good to be out! Please also pass on our grateful thanks to Steve – he was very personable and interesting. The Arcadia is really impressive and I think you will captivate the gardening fraternity!"
"Just a quick email to say thank you for the lovely evening last night – and huge thanks to Steve for taking us round the garden and imparting so much information and passion. It was just the ‘pick me up’ we needed."
Learn more about patronage
Patrons play a vital role in supporting the long-term stewardship of Chatsworth.
As a charity, Chatsworth is deeply grateful for the support given by our Friends, patrons, funders and corporate partners.
The history of Chatsworth
Discover the fascinating history of Chatsworth and the Cavendish family.