Belvoir Castle has been revealed as a ‘Garden of the Year’ finalist, a public voted awards organised by Historic Houses Association designed to celebrate the best gardens in the UK.
With voting now open, the Leicestershire Estate is the only attraction to fly the flag for the East Midlands as it competes for the national title against seven other historic houses from all corners of the UK.
Emma Rutland is the 11th Duchess of Rutland: “We’re delighted to be up for Historic Houses’ Garden of the Year. Spring is the perfect time to explore our tranquil gardens, with camellias, daffodils and magnolias in bloom and lots of walking trails available. With the public vote now open, we hope everyone who loves visiting our beautiful landscapes will support us.”
Ursula Cholmeley, Gardens Editor, Historic House magazine, says: “What makes the gardens of Historic Houses special is the people who live in them, and we want to see their ideas and passion coming through in the way the garden is evolving.
“Our great country houses are, rightly, protected from much significant physical change, so it’s often only in the garden that a new generation of inhabitants of these much-loved family homes can really make their mark, leaving their own legacy for future generations. These shortlisted gardens are all ones where we can see that personal imprint.”
The gardens at Belvoir Castle were designed and landscaped by the fifth Duchess of Rutland, Elizabeth Howard, and regarded as one of the greatest gardens north of London in the 18th century. Over the years, the gardens have been lovingly cared for with several Duchesses leaving their own mark. The 11th Duchess is determined to continue redeveloping these beautiful gardens to restore them to their former glory.
This year marks the beginning of a £200,000 restoration of the Rose Garden, following the rediscovery of the original plans drawn up by the 19th century designer Harold Peto in the Castle archives. These reveal that the Rose Garden is shaped like a boat, with the Chinese horse at the bow, and the circular seat at the stern. Visitors can explore the classical formal gardens, woodlands and views across the rural countryside from the castle’s hilltop position.
Capability Brown Tours have been launched as part of the 2019 season. Following a two-year restoration programme led by the 11th Duchess, which cleared over 500-acres of woodland and brought the lost plans of Capability Brown to life, visitors can explore the stunning vistas designed more than 250 years ago by the English landscape architect with a head set tour narrated by the Duchess from the new electric bus.
The Belvoir Flower and Garden Festival (13 & 14 July) also returns for its second year, a quintessential british day out with beautiful garden inspiration and ideas. Specialist plant growers, garden furniture, sculpture artists, show gardens, border displays, tools and crafts as well as Expert Horticulturists will be on hand to answer gardening questions.
Admission to the Gardens only at Belvoir start from £12 for adults; £7 for children (4-16 years) and £34 for a family pass (two adults and up to three children). As a listed RHS Garden, Belvoir Castle opens its doors to RHS members in June for free of charge.
To vote for Belvoir Castle to be crowned Historic Houses’ Garden of the Year, visit: www.historichouses.org/goya2019.html. Alternatively, members of the public can cast their vote by making a post on Facebook that includes Historic Houses (@HistoricHousesUK), the words ‘My Vote’, the name of the garden they want to win, and the hashtag #HHgoya. Voting closes on 30 September and the winner will be revealed in November.