About the garden
Maria Wingfield Digby
The Grade I listed garden at Sherborne Castle has evolved over a long history dating back to the 11th century when the old castle was built and before the new castle was incorporated into its grounds. Its features have undergone many changes although small clues and reminders of the past remain, such as Dinney's bridge, Raleigh's seat and Pope's seat.
The most significant remodelling of the whole garden and landscape was carried out in 1753 and 1776 by the Digby family and their friend Lancelot (Capability) Brown. Sherborne Castle was one of Brown's first commissions, resulting in a magnificent English landscape garden which survives largely unaltered today.
A 50-acre lake forms the backdrop to a 42-acre garden with sweeping lawns, magnificent herbaceous borders and majestic specimen trees. Champion trees include a famous Ginkgo, cedar of Lebanon, Highclere holly and holly oak. Delightful walks lead around the lake to garden features such as the cascade, Earl Henry's bridge and the folly. Shorter walks lead to the courtyard gardens, the 'Ginkgo lawn', the orangery, and the boathouse and pier with wonderful views of the old castle ruins.
Colour is provided with unusual cultivars forming spectacular displays of spring bulbs and daffodils. High summer colour and fragrance is provided in the herbaceous borders where planting is very informal and includes modern and traditional roses, hydrangeas, magnolias and dahlias along with herbaceous perennials, unusual trees and shrubs.
In the autumn, colours are reflected in the lake from about 40 cultivars of Japanese maples including Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood', 'Satsuki-beni', 'Shin-deshojo' and Acer campestre 'William Caldwell'.
In winter, early snowdrops and winter aconites carpet the ground showing that the garden never sleeps. Fire-red Cornus, alders with incredible catkins and fragrance from Clerodendrum trichotomum and Lonicera fragrantissima all contribute to the magic.
This garden is a must for arborists and plantspeople alike.