July 26th, 2007
Tatton Park: The Italian Garden

Tatton Park Italian Garden
A rare spot of sunlight breaks out over the Italian Garden at Tatton Park while storm clouds threaten in the background.

My visits to England are constrained by school holidays and, as a result, I have never managed to be in town for the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park. However, the gardens at Tatton Park are always worth a visit anyway.

Rather than garden rooms like Hidcote Manor where the small gardens flow from one to another changin. moods and showing off various collections of plants, the multiple gardens at Tatton Park are distinct and separate entities which reflect the international interests of the former Egertons who made them. Thus you find a Japanese garden, an African Hut, and an Italian garden scattered among the grounds in addition to more domestic English borders, rose gardens, great lawns, walled vegetable gardens, long walk, fernery, rhododendron-filled woods, and a maze.

For some reason, I’d never stumbled across the Italian Garden, before. This time, however, map in hand we made our way through the woods, past the Leech Pool, to the Mercury Pool (god not chemical as I’d thought), and up to the Italian Garden from below, hiking up a steep lawn, at first seeing only the roses tumbling over the balustrade and color from a long border of lavender above us. We turned the corner…

Tatton Park Italian Garden

… and entered a formal garden which made a stunning contrast to the naturalistic woods and ponds that we had just come from. Tatton’s Italian Garden was designed in 1847 by Joseph Paxton who designed the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

As you might expect then, it’s not too shabby.

Tatton Park Italian Garden

What I love about this garden most, is the siting–the contrast of the clean formal lines and flat terrace against the informal backdrop of trees, fields, and small lakes beyond.

The garden layout was designed to be viewed from above, looking down from the mansion, like this.

Tatton Park Italian Garden

I’m glad we sneaked in the back way, appreciating the parts before seeing the whole.

We had the garden almost to ourselves and I enjoyed a sense of proprietorship as I always do. AJM took the opportunity to sit and read. I strolled through the garden, brushing my fingers through the lavender hedge, and dreamed.

Tatton Park Italian Garden

by M Sinclair Stevens

8 Responses to post “Tatton Park: The Italian Garden”

  1. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    Wow, the colors, few though they are, absolutely snap and crackle in your photographs. What a great combination of electric-green and purple.

    The lighting was very odd that day. Rather than the usual non-photogenic light gray clouds, the sky was filled with dark menacing clouds. Alternately it rained and was sunny. I took most of the photos three times to capture the most dramatic shot in the changing light. The Italian Garden had few flowers; it relies almost completely on shrubbery and form. I don’t know the variety of lavender in the border but I saw it growing all over Cheshire. Quite different from the lavender I grow which has relatively inconspicuous flowers. As for the greens! Well England has greens that we never have in Austin even in a rainy, cool year like this. — mss

  2. From Annie in Austin:

    Your photos are wonderful, M, and it’s interesting to see an Italianate Garden in a green place, with no glare or heat waves shimmering up from the gravel.

    I went to the the website for Tatton Park itself and had fun looking around the attractions. No wonder you think it’s always worth a visit!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Annie, good point! I hadn’t thought of how an Italianat. garden in England looks different than in Italy because of th. amount of green, the amount of rain, and the quality of the light. I’ve never been to Italy, so I haven’t seen that style in its native habitat. Tatton Park has a nice pdf brochure that explains all the gardens and includes the map. That’s where I got the information about the age and the designer of the garden. — mss

  3. From KAT (California):

    I want a Leech Pool!

    Don’t we all. We had just left the Choragic Monument where there was mention of Lord Egerton and the Primrose League. This prompted AJM to begin spinning tales of murder and mystery (involving a race of super robots) and which ended with bodies floating in the leech pool. — mss

  4. From Carol (Indiana):

    Beautiful gardens, wonderful pictures. The lavender must have smelled heavenly.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    My pleasure. More to come. — mss

  5. From Julie (Austin):

    Have loved the vicarious trip to England. Thank you for bringing all this back and showing us, really another world in terms of sky, plants, and most of all attitude from our fair (?) city.

    Now, did you see the lady with giant protractor and compass who outlines all those hedges?

    Isn’t it odd how what is most restful to the eye is the most difficult to keep up? I did come away with an appreciation of what a difference a clean line makes in the garden. As I said, what I really like is the contrast, strong geometric forms and loose natural forms. I don’t think the choice should be either/or–I want both. — mss

  6. From Janet (England):

    Hi. Welcome back from your UK trip. So sorry that we had so much rain while you were here…but as you know, it’s just gotten worse. So far, only my tomatoes are suffering, though. Looks like our new garden drains nicely.

    Thanks for the great photos!


    Glad you’re keeping high and dry. My back yard drains nicely, too–right into the garage. But this problem is minor compared with what’s happening in England at the moment. — mss

  7. From Annie in Austin:

    I haven’t been to Italy, either – just via movies like Enchanted April and Much Ado About Nothing, travelogs, and garden shows like Victory Garden and the old Audrey Hepburn series about the gardens of the world. Even on a screen you notice the shimmer-thing.

    As for England – well, you take me there, M!


    I’ve wanted to watch “Enchanted April” but I can’t find it on Netflix. I read the book some years ago. I know what you mean…like the light in “Under the Tuscan Sun” (a movie that I was surprised I liked and a book I was surprised I didn’t). — mss

  8. From Pam (South Carolina):

    What a beautiful place – thanks so much for the tour!

    My pleasure. Stay tuned. There’s more to come. — mss