One of England’s “hidden gems” gardens is being restored, and Shropshire-based Boningale Nurseries has been selected to supply more than 20,000 plants and 8,400 bulbs.
The Swiss Garden in Bedfordshire is a late Regency garden, created in the 1820s by Lord Ongley.
Widely regarded as an outstanding example of the Swiss picturesque style, the garden was refurbished in the 1870s by industrialist Joseph Shuttleworth but stood neglected for much of the 20th century.
Now the garden, which is part of Old Warden Park, is undergoing major restoration after the gardens, owned by the Shuttleworth Collection in Biggleswade, won a £2.8 million Heritage Lottery grant to help fund extensive work to bring to the garden, its 13 listed buildings and ornamental structures back to its former glory.
The gardens closed in January this year and work is due to be completed ready for the garden to reopen to the public in the summer 2014.
Boningale Nurseries, one of the UK’s largest nurseries and environmental horticultural specialists, won the tender to supply the plants to contractor Hortech Ltd, which is carrying out the landscaping work at the gardens.
Steven Horne, Hortechs’ Account Representative at Boningale Nurseries, which supplies the construction and horticultural industry with the complete range of Nursery stock including more than one million home-grown container shrubs every year from its Albrighton headquarters, said it was interesting to be part of such a prestigious restoration project.
“The Swiss Garden project is yet another high profile scheme that we are delighted to have supplied,” said Steven. “It was an unusual project, as the brief was to keep the pallet of plants historically true to the Regency period, which the designer Chris Burnett inspected first hand at the
nursery. Chris wanted to ensure the quality of the plants, and that they would have the desired effect and the immediate impact he was looking for.”
Designer, Chris Burnett, from Chris Burnett Associates said the key to the design was the balance between space and enclosure, light and shade and the many buildings and ornaments, as well as the foliage.
“We’re putting in 20,000 trees and shrubs, taking several out and clearing existing rhododendron,” he added. “The challenge was managing the transition between what it had to become, and what it was going to become. We took out a lot of existing vegetation, and a lot of that was mature yew trees. We also discovered a lot of shrubbery that was never intended to grow to maturity.”
In total, fifty three beds have been planted up using a mix of evergreens, a staple of the Swiss Garden, deciduous flowering shrubs, climbers, herbaceous plants and box balls. The planting scheme, which the Swiss Garden team is very happy with, was inspired by two historic periods of planting which relate closely to the garden’s creation by Lord Robert Ongley in the 1820s and the later embellishments added in the 1870s by the new owner Joseph Shuttleworth.
David Cox from Hortech added: “We had every confidence in placing this prestigious and historical contract with Boningale. The Swiss Garden restoration project was not the usual list of plants; plants popular in the Regency period have been superseded and or not commonly in production now. Boningale, as usual, supplied high quality plant material and delivered on vehicles with Moffatts because of the site restrictions, which enabled us to finish the contract on time. Their service and commitment to this project has been excellent.”