A Return to Shibden

Back in December, 2013 we all trooped into this small bothy at Shibden Hall for a winter pruning course with the Northern Fruit Group. We never got to go into the gardens inside the walls or see the hall itself made famous by the infamous Anne Lister (who for the record shouldn't have been infamous for her sexuality and who was an incredibly strong and inspirational human being). The instructor was wonderful, patient and took us step by step through pruning in the orchard (you can see the orchard anytime without paying to go into the house. Though we'd recommend it).

gardening, pruning, life on pig row

There's sprawling park land around the hall, free to wander through and it was very busy when we were there with people queuing to get into the car parks. The gardens sprawl from formal to woodland, from bog garden to ponds, to the echoes of a kitchen garden and a tunnel that leads you to it (that wonderful idea that servants should be used and not seen by the owners - this echoes in the house too with a subterranean warren of corridors and back stairs to take maids from point A to B without being seen). 

gardening, life on pig row

life on pig row, shibden hall, gardening

These small gardens are hidden behind the walls of Shibden away from the formal planting, bedding displays and rolling lawns reveal another side of the hall that has been lost along with Gibbet Hill (you'll have to visit to find out what happened with that one). How the hall fed itself in Tudor times and how this became full scale production by Victorian. Here in a small part of the courtyard we saw echoes of the Tudor, the small beds that made up kitchen garden. We know that this garden wasn't there during that period, more than likely horses would have trampled it into the mud but a fascination with doves, falcons and other birds can be seen echoing in the dovecote.

gardening, shibden hall, life on pig row

gardening, life on pig row

The formal beds though a tapestry of colour for us are not as interesting as the small gardens tucked behind the walls. There's old photos of Victorian grand planting and the ghost of a glasshouse which has since become a bed and information board. The sad ending of many a fine glasshouse from this period. Andrew really came back to see the trees he'd pruned in winter 2013 and they're doing well, just showing that he has more than a green thumb when it comes to fruit


You can imagine he was chuffed to see them growing so well after he learnt to prune on them before tackling our orchard.


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