September 21, 2020

A living masterpiece [Chatsworth House]


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340642211From Yorkshire Post

If you had more than 100 acres of land, what would you do with it? Build houses and retire to the – or grow a garden?

You could pack a lot of properties into that sort of space; terraced, semis, detached, even a decent number of over-the-top mansions.

Or you could plant a lot of trees, have a lake or two, water features such as fountains and cascades, rock gardens, arbours, even a maze and many an acre of lawn.

And while you’re at it, include a phenomenal vegetable garden, architecturally stunning glasshouses, topiary and a whole host of statues and other sculpture.

I go with the garden, which, is thankfully, what the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire have done at , their country pile in Derbyshire.

It’s taken more than 450 years to reach its present standard. The famous waterworks, for example, include the magnificent 300-year-old Cascade, the trough waterfall in the rockery and the enormous gravity-fed Emperor fountain.

But it’s in the last half-century or so that the gardens have truly come back into their own, with the Cavendish family putting untold time and money into creating and recreating what has become a living masterpiece. And the development process is continuing.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the garden at their leisure – and to do justice to all 105 acres will take a lot of leisure time. One day will never be enough, which is why many people return (some regularly) to stroll the miles of paths and tracks.

The Cascade, which in 2004 was voted the best water feature in by a panel of 45 garden experts, is one of the obvious highlights of the gardens, but there are many more stunning things to see – if you are prepared to look. Walk away from the magnificent house and delve into the woodlands to discover features which are equally as impressive and far less thronged.

And as the seasons progress, the gardens change; autumn is definitely a time to visit, if only to witness the woodlands preparing for winter. On a fine day, it’s a colourful experience.

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