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Lincolnshire Pride

Doddington Hall’s Marvellous Gardens

Capability Brown, the famed 18th century landscape architect, transformed hundreds of stately home gardens up and down the country in the 1700s. There’s no denying his work is beautiful, providing the onlooker with moving hills and flowing lakes to gaze upon, taking inspiration from the natural world. However, Brown’s unprecedented demand across Britain meant that many of the styles and designs of gardens before his time, deemed unfashionable, were lost.

The beautiful gardens at Doddington Hall.
The beautiful gardens at Doddington Hall.

It is thanks to Sir John Delaval, and his distaste for Brown’s style, that the gardens surrounding his property Doddington Hall were kept to their original design, and remain so today. If you haven’t already had the pleasure of strolling the gardens surrounding Doddington Hall just outside of Lincoln, you’re in for a mighty surprise.

It’s truly magical and incorporates so many different elements of horticulture and landscape design. David Logan has been Head Gardener at Doddington for five years now, with a history in and a passion for conservation in other stately homes across the country.

“Doddington was a very appealing prospect for me,” says David. “Especially because the owners of the Hall have such a strong ethos in sustainability. They have adapted with the times and ensured their family home will pay for itself.”

Doddington benefits from a café, restaurant, farm shop, home store, holiday cottages, bike shop and country clothing store, in addition to hosting weddings and events. It’s diverse in its offerings which is reflected in the gardens too. There is a two acre walled kitchen garden providing the fruit and vegetables for the farm shop and restaurant. All the food produced is organic, and cutting flowers for a local florist are grown here too.

Doddington has a formal walled east front Elizabethan courtyard, featuring formal topiary and lawns. It’s worth noting that the topiary is rather original in the way it’s styled in the shape of unicorns!

Unicorn Topiary!
Unicorn Topiary!

“The formal walled garden used to consist of four enormous cedar trees and they made the house look gothic and perhaps haunted!” says David. “These were removed and a formal Elizabethan garden reinstated.”

The walled west garden to the rear of Doddington Hall is very different in design. Here, you will find a tapestry of box-edged parterre to the same standard as the perfectly pruned guarding unicorns to the east full of irises in early summer. You can also see wide bursting borders, wisteria-coated walls, bright beds encompassing water features and iron gates opening to the rest of the 18-acre estate, giving a panoramic view of countryside and Doddington’s pyramid, a unique structure home to owls.

We haven’t even reached the best part about these beautiful gardens yet. What is most enchanting about Doddington Hall’s estate is the wild garden. Just beyond the croquet lawn and cherry tree walk filled with blossom in spring, you will be surrounded by woodland, greeted first of all by the two enormous ancient chestnut trees. Their contorted branches have replanted and new trees are growing from them, and the width of its trunk is the fifth largest in Britain. The woodland floor beneath is buzzing with bees and butterflies, and leads to further woodland via meandering pathways.

Head Gardener at Doddington, David Logan.
Head Gardener at Doddington, David Logan.

On our visit, we were greeted with sweet smelling Rhododendron, filling a large section of the wild garden. There’s also a turf maze made in the 1980s deeper into the wild garden, and the Temple of the Winds that looks over the Lincoln Red cattle that once had free reign over the wild gardens.

The most recent introduction David has made to the garden is the water garden. This is hidden in the wild garden also, and makes use of a running stream filling a pond. He’s surrounded the trickling stream with water-based plants and little bridges, adding to the impression the wild garden gives of an enchanted woodland in a fairytale.

July is a very busy month for Doddington (and its gardeners). The annual sculpture exhibition is returning, so expect to see hundreds of unique displays from artists across the world from the 28th July. A unique ceramics display is new for 2018 too. Doddington Hall ticks every horticultural box so enjoy a visit this month, browse the sculptures that are on offer and finish your visit with coffee and cake in the café too!