Scotney Castle

The first garden we saw outside of London was at Scotney Castle. Our friends John and Pauline drove us there after picking us up at the train station.

Scotney Castle
Old Scotney Castle – imagine all those Rhododendrons in bloom.

Scotney Castle includes a one acre walled garden and a 19 acre park built around an old fortified manor house (Old Scotney Castle) and a pond.

Scotney Castle
Everything looks more beautiful reflected in a pond.


I’ve read that the larger garden is influenced by the Picturesque style, but I have to confess I’m not sure exactly what that is. Apparently it has to do with a romantic view of natural beauty and the incorporation of views that would be suitable for a picture. Maybe one of you can provide a clearer definition.

Scotney Castle



Many of the largest trees were destroyed in a storm some years ago, but many lovely old trees can still be seen.

2013-09-12 07.04.29

A garden built around a pond is a lovely thing. I think this is pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata).

Cyclamen Scotney Castle

I was jealous of the naturalized Cyclamen blooming in the woodland area.

Scotney Castle garden


Scotney Castle


Scotney Castle Japanese Anemone



Scotney Castle
Love all that Cleome.

The walled garden, for me, was the best part. There’s something about all that luscious color and (almost) unrestrained botanical life force contrasting with solemn old stone and brick, like a vivacious child with a stern but kind-hearted grandfather.

Scotney Castle Kniphofia

Torch lilies don’t usually appeal to me but I liked these yellow ones.

2013-09-12 07.29.01 Scotney Castle

Are these just giant mutant Fuschias?

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I should definitely say something at this point about John and Pauline. Judy was high school pals with Pauline, who along with her husband John were incredibly hospitable – putting us up in their rambling 16th Century home, feeding us, and driving us all over the countryside. (We didn’t even know about Scotney Castle until they took us there.) This was a very good thing, as I found the roads in rural England to be fairly terrifying, but more on that later.

This was all the more remarkable as their son George, a star rugby player, was going to depart in a few days to begin his studies at University. So we owe them a big debt of gratitude.

Still to come regarding our time in the UK: RHS Wisley, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter, and English breakfasts.


43 Comments on “Scotney Castle”

  1. What a laundry list of gardens to come as that wasn’t enough, Jason. But post begged how Judy had a high school pal who ended up in a 16th century manor. From sheerly a gardener’s perspective, Judy sure pick ’em. (BTW goes without saying you must be able to pick ’em too. Be sure to tell her that Aussie Patrick told you so, old chap — moniker seems seems so bloody appropriate)

  2. I’m reasonably sure that Fuchsia is Fuchsia magellanica, a hardy Fuchsia that can get pretty big in the ground. They grow well here in the PNW, and I’m sure if you come to the Fling in Portland this year you’ll see quite a few more. I loved looking at your photos of the walled castle garden.

  3. Thank you for showing all these photos. It have seen illustrations of Scotney Castle in many gardening books but they seem to always show the very same view. It is interesting to have a more rounded approach and a look at other parts of the garden.

  4. What a nice spot, I’m looking forward to more warm weather posts to carry us through the winter.
    The reflections are great, what’s the big house towards the left? Is the castle just kind of a little outbuilding for the main home? Must be nice πŸ™‚

  5. I adore walled gardens! And what a charming setting for this one too… all those beautiful stone structures with vines and climbers. I bet that wisteria is a picture when flowering. And the rhododendrons too. Wonderful! πŸ˜€

  6. Another garden I am putting on my list to visit, I love the reflection into the lake. The National Trust does wonderful work here and is a charity that looks after many of the important homes, gardens and coastlines, that are too expensive to run privately. I will try to help with The Picturesque style, which simply put was a style of garden design, influenced by intellectuals of the time – Prior to Picturesque was the English Landscape movement of the previous 80 years where “tame and gentle” natural landscapes were designed and built, huge parklands were artificially created and ran straight up to the walls of English Stately homes, these gardens were designed to look as if they were completely natural – gentle hills, small woodlands and lakes, but were artificial and planned, so were not exciting vistas. The Picturesque style of garden design sort to make these vistas less bland and more romantically wild or at least more interesting. The English Landscape movement before Picturesque was a reaction to the symetrical formality of the previous centuries Renaissance gardens, I do not know if I just made that any clearer! but hope that helps.

  7. I never heard of this castle either. I think this style was part of the Romanticism era where the view was what you might see painted on canvas, which this castle really conveys with the pond up to the foundation. It is like the building floats which in itself has romantic sensibilities. I really like this place and you were so fortunate to have visited.

    • Yes, you’re right it was connected to the Romantic cultural currents that came to the fore at the end of the 18th and early 19th Centuries. And certainly the castle as if floating on the water conveys that very well. Although this castle was built early on as a real fortified manor and not as a folly or ornament.

  8. I like walled gardens too and I like what looks like wisteria over the archway.
    I wonder what it takes to naturalize cyclamen. I’ve heard of hardy cyclamen that can take below zero cold with a good snow cover, but I’ve also heard the same about “hardy mums.”
    Whatever headaches it took to get there, it would be worth it.

  9. Jason, it’s been a while since I’ve visited here, but what a treat to see all these lovely blooms on a cold and snow-covered day! I especially love the informal, natural-looking plantings against the old and crumbling stone. I was in London 10 years ago for only a couple days, but my dream is to one day visit the English countryside. You’ve made me want to go even more. Looking forward to future posts on your trip!

  10. Julie’s explanation of the picturesque is excellent but yours was actually pretty accurate. It was all about creating points of interest as an artist would do in a painting. I haven’t been to Scotney for years, we couldn’t fit it into our itinerary last September. I’m really enjoying your English posts.

  11. We first went to Scotney about 5 years ago. I was indeed enchanting. The day we went it was pouring down with rain but it did nothing to stop us walking around the garden, it was beautiful and one I would go back to again. The newer house was fascinating as well, as the previous lady owner had not long died. So in her room was all her modern day belongings with a television and electric heater, all looking out of place in such an old house. We tend to forget that some of these houses were lived in until quite recently and some are still lived in .

  12. How blessed you both are to have friends like this! Such a once in a lifetime experience to view these amazing gardens! I am just sitting here with my jaw on the table looking at those spaces…and yes the yellow blooms on those torch lilies are just incredible! Well I should say that the whole garden paired with the stone is just incredible! Inspiring beyond words!!! Thank you for sharing this one as I have no idea when I will ever be able to travel abroad and view these for myself!! Nicole

  13. I want to go!! I’ve never heard of this castle but am putting it on my list of places I want to go. My garden designs are always centered around an “English garden meets American prairie” philosophy. I just love the lushness of unrestrained botanical exuberance. What a treat!

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