The Gardens

Where sweeping green avenues meet formal parterre gardens

A three thousand acre estate encapsulating Capability Brown designed parkland, a fernery, walled gardens, meandering paths through enchanting woodland and peaceful lakes.

The dominant landscape at Ugbrooke has always been the Park, designed by preeminent landscape gardener, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Known for his remodelling of some of the best known country house estates, to create serene, natural environments. Brown’s proposals for Ugbrooke were made during the latter years of his career, with his draft drawings depicting the plan for Ugbrooke now hanging inside the house.

At Ugbrooke, Capability Brown dammed the Ug brook, thereby creating two large lakes. He then set out the tree plantations to create the natural landscape, favouring English Oak, Turkey Oak, Spanish Chestnut and Holm Oak, among others. Today the areas surrounding the main house remain as per Capability Brown’s original plans, with the present Clifford family continuing to plant according to Brown’s vision.

There is little evidence of a garden here until the 19th century. However, the earliest reference is about the 4th Lord Clifford’s gardener who was “Frequently drunk 3 or 4 days a week and then abused everyone in the house”. Happily, this is not the case with the present, hard-working gardening team today.  With advice from Michael Hickson, V.M.H, former head gardener at Knightshayes, there has been extensive replanting. A new border by the greenhouse was planted, the Spanish Garden transformed and the overgrown slope by the top lake cleared to form the recently planted magnolia walk.

Legacies from the 19th century are the formal lavender parterre and the Chusan palms (Trachycarpus fortune) leading to the delightful Orangery tearoom. Partaking in a traditional Devon cream tea overlooking this part of the garden is just heavenly, bathed in wafts of fragrance from the lavender hedges and David Austin roses.

Inside the Courtyard, wisteria climbs the ancient walls, above a clipped hornbeam hedge and espalier pears. Enclosed and peaceful, the Chapel Garden is planted with Bottlebrush (Callistemon) and Hebe, reflecting the Clifford connection with Australia and New Zealand.

Further on, the Greenhouse border is a restful area of plants chosen for their grey blue and silver foliage and flowers. Finally, across the fairy-like bridge, there is a formal garden with its clipped box maze looking across a stereotypical Capability Brown grassy avenue towards the lakes.

By continuing to use this site you are agreeing to the use of cookies