With mist hanging lightly in the air, Renishaw Hall takes on an eerie and mystical charm. Silence echoes around the landscape. Its ancient trees are bare, and its flowerbeds have yet to erupt with colour.
But as the spring approaches, the magnificent gardens are set to blossom like never before. Following an ambitious redesign from current owner Alexandra Hayward – daughter of the late Sir Reresby and Lady Sitwell – visitors this summer are set to be wowed.
Renishaw Hall has just been announced as winners of the Historic Houses Association’s (HHA) 2015 Garden of the Year Award too. So expectations are high for when the hall reopens this month.
Alexandra said: “When we found out we had won, everyone so pleased. It is a huge honour, especially as there hasn’t been a Derbyshire winner for over 20 years. I was delighted – over the moon, you might say.”
The last time the award went to Derbyshire was in 1993, when Haddon Hall were victorious. The award is decided by HHA members, who complete a survey every year to say which gardens they have visited – as well as score them.
However, the prestigious accolade came after Alexandra and her team of loyal gardeners had spent almost an entire year redesigning the award-winning garden.
Head gardener, David Kesteven, 47, said: “As soon as Alexandra told me the news, I thought ‘right, quickly, let’s move everything back to how it was’.”
Jokes aside, the changes are set to impress. David, who has worked at the hall for 17 years, said: “Alexandra has got a very wide vision for the gardens, and the work we have done is really exciting. The gardens will look amazing when they blossom.”
Climbing plants have been trimmed and tamed to reveal more of the stunning 17th century stonework. A local ironmonger has been called-in to create new gates, and steel obelisks.
The swimming pool garden has been filled with new colour coded, and height synchronised roses, which will blossom into a theatre of colour later this year.
The old plants have been positioned along the woodland walk – which has also had somewhat of a makeover. The woodland around the house seems natural, but is preened, filled with former garden plants, and is a perfect example of nature tamed.
After an old tree collapsed in the woodland, light has flooded in and allowed David to bring more bluebells into the area. The woods are expected to transform into a fairy-tale forest of colour.
Alexandra said: “When my mother and father took on Renishaw Hall and its grounds they worked tirelessly on the restoration and redesign of the gardens to bring them back to their original glory.
“It’s wonderful to think that in the forty plus years since my parents first came to Renishaw, the gardens have now been recognised as winners of a prestigious national award like this.
“It’s testament to their hard work and the continuous hard work of our gardening team here at Renishaw Hall and Gardens”.
Renishaw Hall and Gardens reopen on Friday, March 27. Call 01246 432310 for more information.
Home to the Sitwell family for nearly 400 years, Renishaw Hall and Gardens is predominantly an Italianate garden set in traditional English countryside.
The house and formal grounds date from the 1620s, but it was the passion and commitment of Sir George Sitwell, 4th Bt., and his admiration for the classical Italian gardens, that forms the landscape of Renishaw Hall and Gardens still enjoyed by visitors today.
Created between the years of 1886 to 1936, Sir George’s legacy has since been preserved by his grandson, the late Sir Reresby and his wife Lady Sitwell and their daughter and current owner Alexandra, all who have devoted their time to nurturing and developing the stunning gardens.