So here we are with the second part of this visit to Houghton Hall in Norfolk, a post refound!
Although our main reason for visiting the gardens at Houghton Hall was to explore the land art created by Richard Long within its grounds and house, we also planned to enjoy the gardens in their own right.
The gardens featured huge expanses of sweeping lawns broken up by pleached hedges and topiary. As we approached the house we were surprised to see a circle of stumps arranged on the grassed area, like a stump henge. Each individual root stump was beautiful in its own right but the circular arrangement added another dimension, the dimension of mystery.
The pleached lime hedges presented a strong structural element to the lawned areas. The strong sunlight on the day gave patterns of light and shade, cool and warm. Some of the raised hedges were tall enough for us to easily walk beneath them to experience these contrasts, which was most welcome on such a warm day. Looking out from beneath the pleached blocks of lime gave us framed views of the expanse of the gardens. Further surprises appeared periodically mostly in classical style, stone columns and seats and occasional modern pieces.
In complete contrast to the formality of the parkland areas discussed above, roses featured in softer more romantic borders. This planting felt very soft, restful and gentle.
The parkland was separated from the farmland surrounding it by a “ha ha”, the cleverest way to keep livestock out of formal gardens.
We enjoyed a diversion off one of the main paths while searching for more Richard Long installations, and the narrow path was edged with beautifully cloud-pruned box hedging. The pathway led us to a “Skyspace” by James Turrell. We love his work so spent time sitting inside watching the moving weather. So peaceful!
In complete contrast to the open parkland and grassed areas with architectural planting features, we found another area of the garden at Houghton, the Walled Garden such a contrast. This part of the garden will be the subject of the third post concerning Houghton Hall.