Loveable Scampston

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Scampston Hall Walled Gardens
North Yorkshire’s Scampston Hall Walled Garden has been nominated as BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Garden of the Year – the only in the North of England to be put forward. We speak to owner Chris Legard about the honour

Scampston Hall Walled Garden, a magnificent patch of greenery on the doorstep of a grand house first built around 1700 and remodelled to a design by Thomas Leverton between 1795 and 1800, is one of five gardens nominated as BBC Countryfile Magazine’s Garden of the Year – and the only one in the North of England.

‘We’re up against some very heavy hitters,’ admits Chris Legard, owner and guardian of the hall. The first word that Scampston was nominated came when the shortlist was released. ‘There wasn’t any canvassing or applications or anything like that,’ he says. ‘It was an objective nomination by Joe Swift, which makes it all the better.’

BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Joe called designer Piet Oudolf’s work at Scampston a ‘reinvent[ion] [of] what can go into a Victorian walled kitchen garden.’ And that’s what Chris believes has brought Scampston the nomination, too. ‘One of the reasons we stand out from the crowd is that it’s a very contemporary design in an old-fashioned space,’ he says. 

The move to make the garden more contemporary came in the late 1990s, when Chris’s father and stepmother commissioned Piet Oudolf to rework the green space. ‘It was a brave decision,’ Chris says, ‘but they were right to do it.’

The redesign transformed a wasteland which had Christmas trees growing across one half of it into a coherent, contemporary layout. The upkeep since has proved difficult, but rewarding for the two-person team at Scampston who work on the four and a half acres of land. ‘There’s an awful lot of hedgerows and a fair few beds,’ Chris says. 

He’s hopeful that BBC Countryfile viewers and readers will vote in their droves for Scampston, giving it the award for Garden of the Year. ‘We hope we capture the public, but even to have been nominated is a bonus and the icing on the cake would be to win it,’ Chris says, before adding: ‘Who knows?’

Voting remains open in BBC Countryfile’s Garden of the Year until 28 February. Ballots can be cast at www.countryfile.com/article/garden-year. To read more about Chris Legard and Scampston Hall, read our story from August 2016, click here

Published in: February 2017

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