I’m not a TV watcher, but thanks to fellow monkey puzzle enthusiast who recommended a BBC series called ‘British Gardens in Time’, I came to discover the gardens at Biddulph Grange. The four programmes in the BBC series looked at:
Great Dixter – Christopher Lloyd’s garden in East Sussex
Stowe – a Georgian landscape garden which launched Capability Brown’s career in Buckinghamshire
Nymans – an Edwardian garden.
Biddulph Grange – considered the best surviving example of Victorian garden
I only watched the Great Dixter and Biddulph programmes, which were both fascinating. But more interesting – to me anyway – was the number of monkey puzzle trees spotted in the gardens at Biddulph. A trip was planned – it’s only about 50 miles from Liverpool, and very accessible.
So this week, we had our planned day out to Biddulph. We’d passed through Congleton last September on our day out to Chatsworth, and had spotted a number of monkey puzzles on that drive. And driving to Biddulph we spotted even more.
Monkeys duly noted, then found on Google afterwards, although Ronnie did take this photo of a rather fine tree near the centre of Congleton when we stopped to consult the map.
We didn’t stop for all the trees we saw as this was a day out in Biddulph – but it was very rich in monkeys and suggests a day out in the area another time. The other nine trees spotted in ‘CW’ are all in the catalogue – CW14 to CW22, all around Congleton.
As we approach Biddulph, we cross over the CW postcode boundary and into ST. Just passing Fold Lane we see our first monkey puzzle tree, juvenile ST1.
Arriving at Biddulph we get our tickets and are greeted by a very friendly guide in the entrance hall, one of the last remaining parts of the original house, the rest was destroyed by fire in 1890s, and rebuilt to a different style. The house is now nine private apartments, so nothing to detain us anyway. The guide asks if I’m looking for anything in particular, and is able to direct us to the best places to see the monkey puzzle trees. She also tells me about a monkey puzzle tree near where she lives – in Mow Lane, Biddulph, so that’s ST2.
First up – the Araucaria Parterre.
I don’t know if this is an original feature – I’m sure the hedging is, but having a monkey puzzle tree in each quadrant? Like much of the garden, it’s not really something I’d want to copy, but it’s a very whimsical and playful garden and I do like that. It’s a sort of huge folly – hidden tunnels, and windy paths and steps.
We set off to find the others.
Little do I know it, but there’re visible just there to the right. I’m too busy looking at the map!
We had some preview views earlier, from ’round the back’, but now we’re going to find the path they’re on.
Through this strange little building, called ‘Cheshire Cottage’. Monkey puzzle tree visible next to the chimney.
Yes, there! One of several.
We go into the cottage, and down the stairs and pop out the other side, where it tells us this was built in 1856.
And we are in a group of monkey puzzle trees.
Indeed this one in the foreground no doubt planted sometime around said 1856 – it’s a monster.
A lovely grouping of – by my count – eight mature trees, and three juveniles.
When I go back to the house, the guide there – the friendly one – tells me that the juvenile monkey puzzle trees in the Pinetum are actually from the quadrants, they moved them when they got too large for the space. (I only counted three juveniles, maybe I missed one?).
Here I am ‘in the field’, doing what I most enjoy – mapping monkeys!
Having had in total a 26 monkey day, I’m now happy to go home. We spotted nine CW monkeys getting here, then two in ST, then 15 at Biddulph. A good day.
Goodbye Biddulph. Thanks for a lovely day. And thanks to Ronnie for all the photos of today – I didn’t even have my camera with me.
Ronnie’s blog post of our day out can be found here.