Moreton Hall's Historic Garden Spruced Up by Green-fingered Apprentices

Published on October 15th 2019
A major garden makeover is kicking off at Moreton Hall in Warwickshire, where apprentices are carrying out restoration work to complement the site's rich horticultural past.
The palladian-style mansion and its sprawling grounds - now part of the Warwickshire College Group - were commissioned back in 1906 by Charles Tuller Garland.
A group of people walking down a dirt road
With an inheritance from his banking magnate father James Albert Garland - a co-founder of New York's First National Bank - the American racehorse owner spared little expense in furnishing the hall's estate with grand features.
Eye-catching features of the Grade II listed property included a state-of-the-art tennis court, ornamental fountain, a sequoia lined driveway and exquisitely manicured lawns.
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The beauty of Moreton Hall's Italianate garden, a leafy retreat abutting the main building, has faded somewhat, however.
A train covered in snow
A devastating fire at the premises in 2008 meant many original features of the hall went derelict while parts of the garden became unkempt.
Enter green-fingered apprentices from Pershore College. The group aim to give the country garden a gloss it so richly deserves.
The team are a select bunch skilled in areas like arboriculture, horticulture and landscape architecture. They hope to breathe new life into the garden's overgrown lawn, herbaceous borders and parterre plant beds. A striking sunset vista may also be worked into the design.
A group of people posing for a photo
Another intriguing part of the plans is the removal of the garden's western red cedar conifers. Dark evergreen yew hedging is due to replace them. The low maintenance yew hedgerows were a feature of the original design.
Matt Handy, Industrial Training Manager for Horticulture at Pershore College, told Candide how the location is perfect for trainees to display their skills.
Amid all the soil testing and replanting, preservation appears to be a key theme in the project. The team wants to ensure the architect's original design is honoured, Matt explained.
"We have had the first block week of students based at Moreton Morrell conducting site surveys, soil analysis, pH testing, researching Italianate designs and other works by Moreton Hall's architect, W H Romaine-Walker," he said.
A man sitting at a desk in front of a laptop computer
"Horticulture apprentices are involved with the designing, soil preparation and planting. Crop technician apprentices are propagating plants for the borders. Countryside management students are currently conducting a pond survey."
This month, paving stones from beside the garden's pond will be removed to see if the original sunken steps are hidden below.
"Our landscape apprentices are on-site next Friday to lift some of the paviers to see if the original design is lurking below. If it is, we hope to restore the original 'sunken' appearance as per the original design in the 1938 photograph," Matt said.
A boy sitting at a table with a laptop
By the end of the ambitious project, more than 80 students and apprentices will have taken part. The work is expected to be completed in 2022, with the flower beds hopefully in full bloom.
"We shall be starting to plant the beds next spring to allow the plants to mature in readiness for 2022," Matt added.
Pictures provided to Candide give us a tantalising behind the scenes peek of the project in progress. One standout plan for the garden is the intention to frame a vista befitting the marquee location.
A group of people standing on a sidewalk
"After we complete the first phase, we are hoping to move on to another area of the garden, opening up the incredible view across the Avon Valley from the west lawn at the rear of the hall.
"Viewing the sunset from this location justifies without words why this location was chosen for the hall."
The garden project comes as the Moreton Hall building itself undergoes a refurbishment of its own. The property is being transformed into a national hotel school, where students will have the chance to get to grips with the hospitality industry.
Let's hope their education blossoms like the soon to be blooming historic garden.
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