Valley Garden, Bransdale

In 1826 Charles Duncombe of Duncombe Park near Helmsley was given the title Baron Feversham. To celebrate he had built Bransdale Lodge which was gifted to the National Trust in 1969 following the death of the then Lord Feversham in lieu of death duties. Bransdale Lodge was a shooting lodge used spasmodically during the grouse shooting season.

In the early 1950s, to provide work for his retained staff at the Lodge, Lord Feversham ordered the creation of a “wild garden” in Gimmer Bank Wood on the boggy banks of Blowith Slack, a tributary of Hodge Beck. Azaleas, rhododendrons, flowering cherries and many other trees were planted including such exotics as American Skunk Cabbage, a favourite in “bog” gardens.

Today the garden has been neglected and nature is staging a comeback. Stone paths and many garden features, such as a stone seat, can still be discerned, covered in moss. What looks like a pond has silted up, home for what is going to be a great display of irises later in the summer. But the Skunk Cabbage has gone on the rampage, dominating large areas and dispersing five of six kilometres down the watercourse. Eradicating it is a long term job, the seeds can lie dormant for eight years. Its tubers need to be dug up out of the bog. Very dirty, exhausting but satisfying work.
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