Chippenham Park, Cambridgeshire, has a distinctly naval theme governing the layout of its gardens and it certainly contains boat loads of water, nearly all laid out in the form of long straight canals.
The reason for this focus is that it was created by an Admiral: Admiral Russell who became the 1st Earl of Orford.
In fact, to immortalise his famous victory against the french at the battle of La Hogue (1692) he even commissioned a grand avenue of lime trees which were planted out in the battle formation. I imagine that he re-lived that battle over and over again as he showed people around his garden.
The gardens were originally created in a formal Anglo-Dutch style, but were later naturalised by designers such as William Eames and Samuel Lappidge.
However, much of the gardens seen today has been created and planted over the last 30 years. The house and park is still privately owned, but happily is open to the public 4 or 5 times a year. The spring displays are wonderful and well worth a visit.
Right now the park is open for its snowdrops and aconites (until 28th February), but in late March it will be open again for its daffodil and narcissus displays.
Although these are openings targeted at particular mass plantings, there is so much more to see than just that. There are beautiful long borders densely filled for all seasons. The wilderness area contains a variety of interesting shrubs and trees.
Just about any where you pause you will find a quirky bronze sculpture of some ‘wild’ creature close at hand.
But my favourite bit in the park is the walk along the main canal, called Adrian’s Walk. The long borders on either side are filled with specially selected snowdrop cultivars, sweetly scent sarcococca, viburnum and daphne, jewel-like irises and beautiful hellebore (the ones labelled were all Harvington series). I love this single buttery yellow.
At the end of the canal there is a small summer house which is a great place to rest and admire the view.
In the distance you can just make out the distinctive high arch bridge and since it is probably the most photographed feature in the park I’ll close this post with it.
It is well worth a visit if you are in the area on one of their open days in the spring.