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It’s all systems go at Swarthmoor Hall garden. The replanting of the Box hedge (Buxus sempervirens) is nearly completed, adding structure and that historical feel that would have been evident in 17th Century gardens. Two taller standard Bay trees (Laurus nobilis) will be planted at each end of the Box to restore the feel and recreate the sense of that period in history, we channel down the historical steps (metaphorically) from the Elizabethan feel from the Hall, through to the Jacobean era, into the time of the Stuart period, and so on, and so forth. Bay trees were introduced around 1650, and used in herb gardens.

In restoring any period style garden we look at 3 stages :

  • Major rapid restoration
  • Comprehensive renewals
  • Major replantings and restorations

Box edgeSarcococca, (Buxaceae) family, known as Sweet Box/Winter Box, from the Himalayas, is being planted in the developing semi shaded border on the east side of the Hall, the idea is to create a low ornamental fragrant flowering hedge for wildlife. Sarcococca comprises 11 species within the genus here I have planted three, we will focus on these in more detail in a further blog.

The beautifully fragrant creamy white flowers, sometimes flushed with pink, are produced during winter, and provide food for any bees that may be active on mild winter days in February. The small fragrant flowers are followed with a richness of black and red berries depending on the  species, these are a good source of food for a diversity of garden birds. The Victorians were renowned for growing Sarcococca within their shrubberies.

The development of the east side border continues across the path with the planting of another low flowering hedge for wildlife : Olearia x haastii (Asteraceae) family, from New Zealand, ideal for coastal gardens. This fantastic shrub is commonly known as the daisy bush, and will produce an array of daisy like white flowers, comprising yellow centres in July, August, great for attracting a diversity of butterflies.

We’re currently seeing the bare bones of this planting development to enrich the surrounding areas of Swarthmoor Hall, but paint that picture in your mind months ahead, and what do you see !


Ongoing planting is also being planned and underway within this border, I will talk more about this as we steadily move forward, the emphasis mainly focusing on evergreen shrubs producing fragrant flowers and berries to attract wildlife.

Kevin Line, Plantsman/Horticulturalist

Swarthmoor Hall garden