Gardening Elizabethan style

Sheep used as lawn mowers? Herbs used as medicine? Gardens were very different places in Elizabethan times.

Now the team of gardeners at Haddon Hall, near Bakewell, are turning back the clock – returning the landscape surrounding the historic house to how it would have looked in the 16th Century to give visitors a fuller experience.

“They didn’t have lawn mowers so you didn’t have the finely cut grass we have today – it was more a flowering meadow,”, head steward Jo Walker says.

Scythes and grazing sheep were commonly used to cut grass.

To create a more authentic look, the gardeners will not be cutting the grass as closely as usual.

Jo explained that it is not easy to know how the garden would have looked.

“The terraces from the garden date from between about 1580 and 1650,” she said.

“Over the years it got planted up.

“We thought it would be nice to take it back to before the municipal tiers.”

In order to do this, the estate has enlisted the help of famous designer Arne Maynard, who is known for his historically–themed gardens.

Trees such as beeches and hornbeams have been planted to give the gardens more structure.

More traditional plants are being grown such as catmint and artichokes.

Elizabethan people had poor access to transport and facilities so they had to be self–sufficient. Their gardens provided them with more than just pretty flowers.

Jo explained: “They had plants used for medicine and plants that were used for dying.”

One example of a plant used for it’s medical properties is hyssop, which made the patient sick.

Plants or ‘threshes’ were also used to cover the floors of people’s homes to make them smell pleasant.

The gardens will be open to the public from April 5.

More information on Haddon Hall, including admission prices, is available by visiting the website www.haddonhall.co.uk