The Arcadia project, supported by Gucci, has been planted in a 15 acre area of undeveloped garden. The project is part of a larger development plan that has seen a remodelling of the Maze borders, the Rockery as well as the Trout Stream and Jack Pond making it one of Britain’s largest private garden transformations.

The area is made up of four glades, each with its own characteristics. The wet glade makes use of moisture that is already in the area from nearby streams and harnesses pre-existing features such as the Emperor main that runs underneath the glade for irrigation. Swamp Cypress, Rhododendrons and Magnolia give structure with thousands of Primulas in Spring giving way to Rodgersia, Gunnera, ferns and Darmera for foliage, and many varieties of Iris, Persicaria and Aster for colour. During the first lockdown in March over 30,000 plants were delivered to Chatsworth, the original estimated completion time was three weeks however with less staff on site it was completed in just under three months.

The rabbit glade was planted in September 2019, this glade is the most established to date.  Davidias, Viburnum and Hydrangea frame the sloping site with views onto the maze garden, Geraniums, Heuchera, Euphorbia and Galium amongst many other genus and species cover the planting beds.  Drifts of Primula, violets and bulbs will emerge first in spring with grasses and seed heads hanging on into autumn and winter.

The meadow glade area was sown this September with a cultivated perennial meadow developed by Professor James Hitchmough from the Landscape Architecture Department, at Sheffield University. James’s scientifically designed seed mix contains over 70 different species of plant that will flower between March and the end of July each year, once the meadow has developed mown paths will be introduced enabling visitors to explore the mix of plants up close.

In mid-October another delivery of over 40,000 plants took place ready for planting in the fourth and final glade, or as it will be known the 100 Steps Glade. Many visitors to Chatsworth will recognise this as the descent that leads to the site of Joseph Paxton’s Great Conservatory now the Maze.

Patrons were given a tour of the area by Steve Porter, the Head of Gardens and Landscape, and looked over the garden plans with Tom Stuart-Smith, helping them gain an understanding of the larger design aesthetic, the idea of harmony within nature, and how each glade will begin to take shape in the next few years.

The patrons were given their own area to focus on and plant the carefully laid out pots by Tom and the team. With 93 different varieties of herbaceous perennials to be planted across the area it was a busy day! Whilst challenging, the day was enjoyed by all, with one patron commenting that they “thoroughly enjoyed the day…. It was fascinating talking to Steve and Tom and wonderful to be a small part of it”.

In addition to the myriad of plants, a new sculpture titled ‘Natural Course’ has been built within the scheme. Designed to appear as if seeping from the ground and flowing down a woodland slope, the monumental piece has been created from more than 100 tonnes of local stone and sits in woodland between two of the glades. The area is punctuated with newly planted Davidia or ‘Ghost Tree’ as well as flowering perennials including Epimedium, Hellebore and Iris, allowing the sculpture to sit with ease within the surrounding landscape. 

The 105-acre garden is the product of nearly 500 years of careful cultivation. Although some points of interest have been replaced to make way for new fashions, the garden retains many early features. Looking after these features and many other items from the collection requires constant attention, with conservation and maintenance needs to the fore. Many people care deeply about Chatsworth and its future and our Patrons of Chatsworth play a significant role in helping us meet this need.

If you would like to join us on our next exclusive event, find out more about how you can become a Patron today.

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