Each area of Sizergh has a completely different character

Published : Sun 1st Nov Author : Susan Rowley, Head Gardener

Head Gardener Susan Rowley has been at the Trust for four years, having started at Lyme Park before moving to Sizergh two years ago. Here, she talks about the incredible variety of the gardens, and how volunteers are at the beating heart of Sizergh.

We are a 750 year old Grade II Listed garden here, with a pond, lake, four national collections of hardy ferns and one of the largest limestone rock gardens in the whole of the National Trust. Each area of Sizergh gardens has a completely different character and although the gardens are a lot smaller than Lyme Park, they’re a lot more intensive to look after.

The way we’ve tried to shape the experience of the gardens is to change the original route. So visitors now enter through the oldest part of the garden first, which gives them a fantastic view of the solar tower Sizergh, and then work their way through to the newest. This route really helps them to understand the history behind the gardens and connect with the story.

There’s so much variety across the different areas of the gardens; some are more quiet, reflective and romantic, whereas some are spilling over with character and vibrancy. There are also some fantastic colours on show in the garden as autumn sets in, and soon we’ll be holding a talk on the Acers we’ve got in the garden, which are almost 100 years old.

We’ve also got the kitchen garden, which is now a registered food provider for Sizergh café. The kitchen garden is very much unique, as we try to grow produce in fun and interesting ways for visitors. For example, we have ‘mammoth onions’ which children really enjoy, and hold apple juicing days in our orchard where they can learn all about juicing and have a go at understanding taste some of the 65 different varieties of apples available.

We’re a team of four gardeners here at Sizergh, and our volunteers are incredibly important to the work we do. We have a team of around 50 here, all from very different walks of life. They are truly inspiring to me, and we couldn’t maintain the gardens without their dedication.

I feel so lucky to work in these beautiful spaces at Sizergh, and have a real passion for all manner of plants and colours. But what I also love is that I’m able to conserve and tend these gardens, so that people can enjoy them for generations to come.