Sunday, December 30, 2012

Parham House and Gardens, England - I

The weather is grey and dreary right now and I am not in the mood to garden, even though the roses are begging me to be pruned to get ready for spring, again. So I thought instead of forcing myself to go out in the yard. I better finish the year by writing one more post about our trip to England at the end of May this year.

One of the first estates that we were visiting during our vacation was Parham House and Gardens. Parham is something very special and if you are in the area make sure you don't miss it. The day we visited, the weather wasn't the best either, it was quite hazy in parts, but I will never forget the impression the grand estate made on us. First you need to drive through a deer park before you see anything of the estate. This alone is an experience by itself. Then you drive around one more corner and suddenly there it is: The Parham House. I can't imagine how the peope must have felt who lived here and owned the house, when they were approaching their home. Do you get ever used to such grandeur?

From the outside Parham House is certainly impressive, but it doesn't feel necessarily welcoming or friendly in terms of the architecture. At least that is the way I perceive it. It feels more like a huge house that leaves a first time visitor speechless staring at it with the mouth open just because of its humongous fortress like appearance that demands attention and respect. Inside however it comes across in a very different way and is well worth a visit. There are many interesting antique furniture and the rooms are quite beautiful. Especially memorable is the Long Gallery. So I would recommend if you visit bring plenty of time to see the house, the gardens and maybe even the extensive park and leave some time to rest and have lunch or tea in the 16th century Big Kitchen.

Scene of the ancient deer park of 300 acres that surrounds Parham House and Gardens. The park is very beautiful with rolling hills and lovely trees and I am sure it is worth a walk, but unfortunately we didn't have the time for it.

To the left side of Parham House is a chapel that belongs to the house. I love how it is surrounded by ancient trees.

As you can see on this photo Parham House estate is much bigger than "just the main house". There is actually a complex of outbuildings attached. The foundation stone for Parham has been laid in 1577. Since then it has been only owned by three families and was always a private home. It was opened to the public in 1948 for the very first time, because the owners wanted to share the beauty of Parham with visitors. Now Parham is owned by a Charitable Trust but one family member, Lady Emma Barnard, is still living there with her family.

This photo shows a kind of courtyard that is located between the entrance to the main house on the left side (not visible on this picture) and the outbuildings to the right.

I love the wisteria climbing the ancient walls,...

...soften the hard surfaces and making them more friendly.

When we entered the gardens this was the first view we got. A most impressive very long double border planted predominantly in the colors of yellow and purple interspersed with green leaved plants.

This is the entry to the right of the long border to the estate nursery. Lucky people, who live close by and can bring a plant tressure home with them.

In the long border there were many interesting and beautiful plant combinations worth having a closer look. I loved this one of the purple flowering plant, which I don't know the name of, and the bronze fennel. As always, dear readers, please feel free to identify a plant if you know it.

Beautiful crimson thistle like plant.

Same plant surrounded by companions. Again, I love the yellow, purple and crimson color combination.

The tulips had been over but the fennel was coming on strong.

What was interesting is that the yellow color was brought into the border not by flowering plants but solely by yellow leaved plants. Smart idea that can inspire!

Parham Gardens contained many lovely sculptures like this one. Isn't it adorable how the old stone statue is surrounded by the yellow leaved shrubs?

I really liked the wooden climbing structure that served as a divider between the double border and another garden room to the left. If I remember correctly behind the visual divider was a fruit orchard.

The gardeners at Parham made good use of the planting principle of repetition of plants in drifts, which Gertrud Jekyll is so famous for. They replanted the bronze fennel every couple of feet,...

...the yellow leaved shrubs and purple flowering plants,

and the crimson blooming thistle with again a yellow leaved plant in the background.

Looking back into the other direction towards the entrance to the double yellow and purple border. I think that these beds are masterfully done and you can learn a lot by carefully observing how they were planted. I appreciated that plantings were very unobtrusive, but at the same time there was a lot of interest and pleasure to find for the eye. I hope you enjoyed seeing this border in my photos as much as I did by putting this post together.

The Parham Gardens were to big to cover them in just one entry. So I will continue to show you more of this lovely place in another post soon. Besides the plants themselves, one thing that stood out for me in this garden was the exceptionally beautiful statuary that was tastefully scattered throughout the estate. The statues added so much to enhance the overall enjoyment of the gardens and sparked my desire to place one in my own small garden. If I only could have a statue similar to those at Parham for my own little paradise! They are so much more beautiful and have so much more character than the poured concrete sculputres that you can find in garden centers in the US. Of course I am sure they come with a very different price tag as well, but to me it is worth saving for a beautiful, quality statue for years, than getting a cheap unsatisfying one right away. Eventually I will get there!

See you in the garden!



  1. What a grand looking property with beautiful plantings! And I agree about the statues, some things are worth waiting for than rushing for a cheaper substitute.

    Have a wonderful New Year ahead!

  2. Those grand English estates are in a class of their own! I have visited a few, many years ago but my health sadly no longer permits trekking around gardens and grounds. All the more lovely to see your photos and hear how you obviously enjoyed your trip :-) I wish I had a wall I could grow a Wisteria like that...sigh...
    All the best for 2013!

  3. Oh my gosh ~ This was just wonderful! I loved it all, but especially the the long views of the double borders in the gardens. I love bronze fennel, and purple and yellow are complimentary. Absolutely stunning. Thank you for sharing this beautiful estate and gardens.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

  4. Christina, Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos of your travels on your blog. I always love seeing those well tended English gardens. I especially enjoy seeing the aged statuary. (I continue to to attempt to give my cement pieces an aged look with applications of yogurt and moss, which works if there is sufficient rain.) And all of that rich looking soil! It makes me swoon! Wishing you a blessed new year!

  5. Oh, I have always wanted a winding road leading to a home peeking out from around a bend. But when we built this house, we put in a perfectly straight line driveway - much cheaper! Oh, well! I also love the yellow and purple border using yellow shrubs. Maybe I'll have a spot for that idea somewhere someday. :) I also love the wisteria! I can't imagine having it climb the house, although it's beautiful. I guess you can have anything if you don't have to do the maintenance yourself! ;) Happy New Year!

  6. Did you see any deer in the deer garden? That purple thistle like flower - was that a Cardoon? Ah! these types of English gardens and houses are always treat to eyes. Happy New Year :-).

  7. Mark and Gaz, grand it The word for Parham to use indeed! Wishing you guys a wonderful New Year as well!

    Helene, welcome to my blog and thanks for becoming a follower! You bed that my husband enjoyed our last trip to England. Your country is sooo... very beautiful in so many ways. I am sorry that your health doesn't allow you to visit treasures like Parham by yourself anymore, but I am very happy that you like seeing my photos of it. Wishing you all the best for 2013 as well!

    Lorraine, the long double border was truly spectacular. I remember it today like I saw it the very first moment. I would have loved to see it again, when the fennel had grown up. I think the plant combinations have just been awesome. Take good care!

    Dorothy, it is a special pleasure for me, too, to sieve through my photos from our England trips and compose a blog post out of them. It brings back so many fond memories. And it can't make me more happy to know that you and hopefully some other readers enjoy seeing them as well. Good luck "aging" your statuary with yoghurt and moss, what a neat idea. I would love to see a photo of it. Happy New Year 2013 to you, too!

    Holley, I am sure Parham and deals with another garden budgets than the "normal" gardener and they had not only one gardener working there but a whole staff of gardeners. Still I am wondering how the gardeners are able to keep up with the tremendous amount of work that must be done in a garden of that scale. Of course, the whole thing is out of my league, but I so enjoyed visiting it and some ideas like the purple flower/yellow leaved plus bronze fennel plant combination can be brought home without breaking the domestic garden budget :-).

    KL,now that you ask I realized that we didn't see any deer in the park at all! I guess they had so much space, they could hide without a problem. I believe that the leaves of Cardoons are bigger and more silvery, but I will check out photos and compare. I feel like you do: these English gardens and houses are treats for the soul. Happy New Year 2013!


  8. Hi Christina, I think the purple flower is Hesperis matronalis, common name sweet rocket. I love Parham, it's only a 45 minute drive away for me, but I have never been in May so it was great to see your photos. Also, thanks for letting me know that my links weren't working - I think I've rectified this now!

  9. Hi Martin, thanks for the name suggestion for the purple flowering plant. I will check it out! Oooh, you are so lucky to be living that close to Parham. I am glad that I could show you pictures of how it looked in May. Last year your spring was very cold and wet, so things were very much delayed, therefore I assume that usually at that time of the year the beds would be more filled in. Great that you could fix the links. I will come to your blog and check out your favorite posts then!


  10. Thank you for the tour, Christina. Lucky you to be able to see so many beautiful places. I know I could fit in a lot of roses if I lived in a place like that :)

  11. Happy to find your blog today. Thank you for sharing your beautiful shots! Of course I'm following you:)

  12. Masha, yes, I know I am very lucky that I was able to visit England with my husband last year. It is such a beautiful country and a paradise for garden lovers. I so hope that we can go this year again! I have no doubts that Parham would look much more rosy with you as the head gardener ;-)!

    keity, welcome to my blog! I am glad that you found me, like my photos, and intend follow me. If only you could sign up as a follower on my blog. This function is not working for a couple of days by now. I hope that is fixing this soon.


  13. A wonderful place ! Those stone walls covered with pink wisteria ... the old trees, the beautiful soft colours in the garden ... I wish you to visit many beautiful gardens in 2013 ! Happy gardening and a Happy New Year !

  14. Hi Dani, Parham is certainly a special place! I also hope that I am able to visit and photograph lovely gardens this year. It is also so much fun to show them on the blog, of course :-)! Have a great year 2013 as well!


  15. Love your blog... this garden is breathtaking! thank you so mucho for showing us such lovely gardens in UK!
    Greetings from Madrid!

  16. Hi Isabel, welcome to my blog! Thanks for signing up as a follower and also for your nice words about my blog! Parham is simply a jewel, isn't it? I intend to continue to post about the wonderful private and public gardens that I saw on my travels in the UK, I have quite a few more photos left ;-)!

  17. This is such a good blog. I will visit here more often.