Jubilee Walk project

Herbaceous Borders at Penshurst Place in 2008

In the beginning..the borders autumn 2008

Jubilee Walk design at Penshurst Place by George Carter

The new border concept by George Carter

The Juilbee Walk 2012

The Jubilee Walk June 2012

The historic gardens at Penshurst Place continue to evolve, as a unique restoration project of the double herbaceous borders shows.


Combining the garden’s colourful past with its exciting future, the redesign of the 80-yard (72m) double herbaceous border  started another chapter in the Gardens' fascinating story.


Planted to a design by
George Carter, designer of innumerable Country House Gardens and  Gold Medal winner at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the new border incorporates traditional and new elements to stunning effect.

Viscount De L’Isle sees this project as a renaissance of the double herbaceous border, bringing a fresh 21st century look, while preserving features included in previous layouts.

Famous since the Edwardian era, the border has always been a popular part of the garden and its history has been well-documented.

George Carter’s new design includes the traditional apple trees which have formed part of the border in every redesign since 1900. The historic varieties of apple chosen have all been supplied by Brogdale in Kent, home to the national fruit collection, and will be trained into a compact goblet form. This allows room in the border for evergreen shrubs and herbaceous planting, which will burst into colourful display in years to come.

One new aspect of George’s design is the division of the double border into ten distinct bays, each separated by a grassed area with a stone bench from which visitors can admire the view. Each bay will have a different colour scheme, a concept which reflects Gertrude Jekyll’s views on colour in gardens.

Graduating from red through to blue, the planting scheme also draws from Humphry Repton’s principle that hot colours should be seen in the foreground of a scene, progressing to cooler hues in the distance. With a greater element of structural evergreen planting, the border will have more year-round interest than in previous designs.

The border looks very different from its previous forms but retains the elements that have been a constant for its more than 100-year life. Namely, a reputation for beautiful colour over a long season and a structure of apple trees which forms so strong an element of the gardens at Penshurst.

Restoring the border has been a long process and it has taken more than three years for Head Gardener Cory Furness and his dedicated team of 5 gardeners to improve the soil and remove pernicious weeds. Replanting took place in Spring 2011 with visitors able to enjoy seeing it grow and the borders officially reopened and renamed the Jubilee Walk in 2012, representing the latest creative renewal in the history of this remarkable garden.

With records dating back to 1346, the 11-acre walled garden has long enchanted its owners and visitors. Now, with the new borders taking shape, the garden should continue to delight those who walk in it for generations to come.

The restoration is the latest achievement in a long programme of conservation and restoration by Philip Sidney, 2nd Viscount De L’Isle and his family.

The garden’s levels remain as it was when Sir Henry Sidney constructed it in the Elizabethan era, so creating a new chapter in the garden’s history is an honourable and responsible task.

For full projects details and image click here for a pdf presentation.

For further information on this project, you can listen to Cory Furness, our Head Gardener, talking to BBC Radio Kent about the final phase of the project, in March 2011.


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