Downham Hall boasts beautiful flowers, lawns, shrubberies, vegetables...and a spectacular panorama of Pendle Hill . . .

Describe your garden?

The garden covers about five acres and is split into fairly distinct areas. There is a large expanse of lawn around the house with lovely uninterrupted views over to Pendle Hill.

Shrubberies have been planted around the front door and lead down the front drive, partially concealing one of the oldest fives courts in the north of England.

We have introduced some wildflowers such as rattle into the rough areas of grass by the front drive to add a bit of colour and interest. The house itself is covered with Virginia creeper and wisteria.

There is an enclosed rose garden to the east of the house which has white, red and yellow tulips in the spring, lily of the valley borders and shrub roses, clematis and rambling roses at this time of the year. This year, there are also beds of white antirrhinums and gladioli to have a look at.

A path leads from the rose garden down the hill to the long border and the kitchen garden past herbaceous borders, a fuschia hedge and a seating area.

The walled kitchen garden is very productive and, depending on the season, we grow onions, lettuce, radishes, leeks, heritage beetroot, new potatoes, courgettes, spinach, sprouts, soft herbs, artichokes, peas, broad and runner beans, cabbage, rhubarb and broccoli. The greenhouses have tomatoes, chillies, cucumbers and aubergines. There are rows of peonies and dahlias for cutting, as well as redcurrant, blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes and raspberry canes. We have recently planted more rhubarb and also four different varieties of gooseberries (the children love them!).

What are your plans for the garden?

To gradually introduce more vibrant colours into the beds and move away from very time consuming annual planting to more perennial species and bulbs. A friend is going to let us have a large quantity of irises to create a new iris bed.

We are planting bee and wildlife-friendly plants and flowers – particularly in the long border by the kitchen garden as we are hoping to keep bees from next year. We also plan to bring even more of the kitchen garden into production, plant more raspberries, create a ‘nursery’ bed and line all the vegetable beds with lavender.

We are also currently revamping the rock garden at the bottom of the garden and next year will see work on ‘Nutters’ – a shrubbery next to the tennis courts planted 30 years ago – and also to create a new woodland walk in a wood to the south west of the house.

How did you get into gardening?

The Hon Ralph (owner) – Through a love of trees and extreme necessity!

Ian Chadwick (head gardener) – Helping my father on his allotment in Clitheroe.

What is your favourite feature and why?

Ralph – The rock garden because no one can find me and it doesn’t have a phone signal.

Ian – I like working in the rose garden and the vegetable garden, but my favourite feature is the view over Pendle.

How much do you spend on your garden?

Ralph - At the moment, far too much.

Why do you enjoy gardening?

Ralph – I like to encourage wildlife into the garden by choosing plants and shrubs that are insect-friendly and actually leaving some areas to go a bit wild Ian – I just like to be able to sow a seed and get it to fruition – either flower or fruit. I still enjoy going into the greenhouse and see something sprouting.

Have you suffered any gardening disasters?

Ralph – We have tried to grow green peppers, melons, butternut squash and sweetcorn – none of which really worked – even in the greenhouse. Also, we wanted to grow red, yellow and white cosmos this year (because that was what it said on the packet) and they have all turned out pink.

Ian – Spraying the paths with glysophate and absent mindedly walking across the lawn!

Your top gardening tip

Ralph – Just to cover as much area as possible with planting to stop the weeds growing.

Ian – Plant a couple of tobacco plants in pots and place them at the door of your greenhouse – they attract whitefly which get stuck on the sticky underside of the leaves and helps keep them away from vegetables.

  • Downham Hall garden will be open to the public on Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28, with proceeds in aid of Rosemere Cancer Foundation and Downham Village Hall. Gardens open from 2-4pm. Admission £4 adults, children free, free car parking.