Invited guests got an exclusive look at the first completed section of a major garden project at Raby Castle.

Two hundred castle members got to see the remodelled East Garden, as Lord and Lady Barnard invited them to view the finished part of the 18th Century Walled Garden, which features a unique tiered grass amphitheatre.

The new look has been carefully crafted by world-renowned garden designer Luciano Giubbilei, in close collaboration with Lady Barnard.

Situated just a stone’s throw from the 14th Century Raby Castle, at Staindrop, work began in the eastern section of the Walled Garden in early 2022 and has included the creation of the tiered grass amphitheatre, and the planting of new borders and beds.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The opening of the East Garden at Raby Castle

Lady Barnard said: “This preview of the East Garden is truly the first step in our thrilling journey to completion. The gardens at Raby Castle have always had huge appeal for visitors, and it was so important to us that we maintained its character and original features.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The opening of the East Garden at Raby Castle

“Part of the scheme to improve the Raby visitor experience includes providing a space in which the public can relax and enjoy the picturesque surroundings. The addition of the grass amphitheatre has created a sunken performance area for enjoyment of the arts, but also for quiet contemplation.

“We have maintained the soul of the East Garden, embracing its provenance and memories, utilising the much-loved combination of herbaceous borders and trees. The space is framed by amelanchier woodlands, which will grow over time to create an intimate experience for visitors, as they stroll through the interspersed woodland under blossoming trees towards the open amphitheatre, with the castle framing the horizon.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The opening of the East Garden at Raby Castle

“Evergreens and topiary have been introduced to reflect the balance of formality and informality within the structure of the garden, with Taxus hedging and Osmanthus cloud-pruned plants installed to create flow and mirror the form of the historical yew hedge in the neighbouring Formal Garden. We wanted to mix the soft textures of blossom from the amelanchier, with the evergreen structure, creating subtle impact and inspiration.”

The Formal Garden will comprise a series of mazes alongside the historic Raby yew hedge. The adjacent West Garden will be the productive space, combining raised beds growing seasonal vegetables, a greenhouse displaying hot house plants and a cut flower garden full of roses, peonies, dahlias and sweet peas.

Raby members will have exclusive preview access to the East Garden throughout the summer. “We are thrilled to have welcomed so many of our cherished members today and look forward to enjoying this beautiful new space with them this summer, in anticipation of the formal opening of the Walled Garden next year”, added Lady Barnard.

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