Scampston Hall-Autumn

We have returned from a family trip out to Scampston Hall. Scampston has two great attractions. The grounds were designed by Capability Brown, the great landscape designer of the 18th century. Then the walled gardens contain the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf’s largest private commission in the UK. We had chosen to go there so we could meet up with my parents. It feels more comfortable meeting somewhere outside currently.

Scampston is free for one visit to RHS members, but only on Fridays. So far I’m not managing to get any free visits out of my membership. I visited Burnby too late in the year. Glad I’m paying student membership. I am enjoying the RHS magazine though which has been excellent.

We began with the walk around the grounds. There is a short walk through part of the grounds and woodland or a longer walk taking in more of the area. With Alice’s shorter legs we only did the shorter walk but it was a nice stretch taking in parts of the Capability Brown design. Alice was very keen to check the map each step of the way.

It took us through the rock garden which currently looks like it’s a work in progress. Several gunneras have been cut to the ground and the river was dry.

It took us down to the waterside and bridge-building.

Several swans and geese about.

Then we went through a stretch of trees with a pleasing trio of Acers.

We had a little break at the park. It’s only small, with just a few balancing posts and chain but it entertained Alice well enough.

A nice willow igloo.


The route took us along the edge of the lake.

Past the buried ice house.

The view back to the house.

We stopped for a lovely lunch of chicken soup cooked by my mum.

Then we headed into the walled gardens. They are lined by a border on the wall side and hedges on the inner side.

The borders around the edge were filled with some great shade plants.

The path takes you around to a view of the hothouse and the perennial meadow designed by Piet Oudolf.

The fountain makes the centre of the garden. This is surrounded by blocks of perennials that blend in and out of each other.

Piet Oudolf’s style of meadow planting is much replicated now. The key features being many perennial plants with strong shapes and seed heads. Many plants that can move and sway. Quite naturalistic in style.

There were many plants with strong flower shapes that remain interesting as they fade.

The hothouse contained a handful of more tender plants. Alice was keen to give everything a sniff.


To the side of the main garden room was a run of circular beds. I particularly liked this one. It was simple with the verbena surrounded by cosmos but it worked well.

The veg garden had strong plant choices for decorative purposes. Green and purple veg had been alternated in striking patterns.

Another Piet area with masses of grass.

Alice fully immersed herself in the design.

Formal hedges and topiary form the corner sections.

All precisely clipped.

A view back through the garden.

One of my favourites, the Japanese anemones.

A bit of the wildlife in the garden.

Close to the entrance and cafe is a mound. It gives great views of the garden. Alice loved poising on it.

We made a few purchases. They had a good collection, not cheap, but good quality. I chose an Actea simplex ‘Brunette’. It’s a shade lover with very dark leaves and contrasting white flowers. I’d seen it in a few spots around the garden and lusted after it. My mum fell for it too and made a purchase. It may not look like much on its own but within a border, I think it will look great.

Alice wanted a plant with red flowers that grew on sandy soil so I twisted her arm to select a different red that will actually survive for us. We went through a few choices and she selected this Astrantia ‘claret’. A very striking scarlet.

It was a wonderful visit. I’ve taken tons of photos to use for my RHS course. I needed lots of photos for writing plant profiles. I haven’t written about many trees yet and they had plenty named neatly. Alice enjoyed the walk around and dashing around the garden. It made for a good family day out. Many walled gardens will be looking best their best in autumn but Piet Oudolf’s use of plants with strong seed shapes and grasses still looked great. It isn’t a style I’d replicate in my own garden as it doesn’t feel homely to me but there was a great beauty to it. I’d be interested to see it in summer as I imagine all the perennials would be covered in insects on a warmer day. The cover photo comes courtesy of Amy who got some stunning shots whereas many of my were a bit overexposed. If you made it this far thank you for reading. An awful lot of photos but I could have featured more.

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11 thoughts on “Scampston Hall-Autumn”

  1. What a lovely outing, and the gardens are magnificent – so varied! It was interesting seeing the Piet Oudolf style of planting a meadow garden. It must look amazing indeed! I do love the scarlet Astrantia that Alice chose….what a lovely colour! The Actea has an unusually coloured leaf, and I like its texture. Beautiful family photo too! Thanks for sharing your outing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very happy with both purchases. The Actaea is stunning but I need to find a decent spot for it. I think a few of my more commonplace hardy geraniums may come out to make room. The astrantia will be a bit easier to place. It’s got a real vibrancy so I’d like it be nice and visible. There were lots of other plants for sale in very good conditions but I’m trying to keep purchases down while the building work finishes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I went to Scamptston Hall as an RHS member as well! I can’t remember much, except that I have liked other gardens more. Still, always lovely to get ideas, see somewhere different – and be with family in the outdoors, especially at a time like this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, much of the planting you wouldn’t replicate in your own garden though interesting to see. The one aspect that does hold up well is the use of grasses and seedheads. These still providing some good autumn interest while a few other gardens we’ve been to are just fading from grace at this point of the year. We’ll probably end up going for a few more days out like this with family over winter so need to look up which have decent winter gardens. We’ve done the snowdrop walk at Burton Agnes the last few years but be nice to find some others.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As an RHS member I went to Wentworth but not sure if it is still part of the scheme. It was winter and not especially impressive, as far as I remember, although the play area might have been good for my daughter.

        Liked by 1 person

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