Many visitors go to Corsham Court in Wiltshire to see the Methuen art collection. However, the focus of my visit was on the gardens and parkland. For Corsham Court benefited from the designs of 3 famous figures: Capability Brown (c. 1715–16 to 1783), Humphry Repton (1752-1818) and John Nash (1752-1835). A number of their contributions have survived, although as tastes changed some features were modified or replaced.
The house dates back to Elizabethan times. As you walk up the grand drive, you can see the traditional E-shape. I noticed a huge Maidenhair tree, Ginkgo biloba, to my left. Unfortunately, the Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani, planted under Capability Brown that should have been to my left, was no more. Some interesting cloud hedging could be seen from the driveway in a private area of the house’s grounds. I noticed Magnolia grandiflora and Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans, growing against the front of the house.
The guides in the house were friendly and helpful. They pointed me in the right direction and ensured that I would seek out all the notable features. Laden with a numbered tree map of the gardens, I headed towards the formal gardens first. On the way, I noticed the Horse Chestnuts were already taking on their autumnal colours, a crab tree laden with ripening fruit and a resident peacock.
The formal gardens look fairly similar to how they would have looked in the time of the first Lady Methuen and her German Head Gardener Wachter (around the 1830s). In places, unruly box hedging narrowed the path.
Lily Pond Garden
A path lined with Hornbeams, Carpinus betulus, led me through to the Victorian Lily Pond Garden. The sunken, round Lily pond contained a modest fountain but unfortunately no lilies. The warm sunlight bounced off the red brick wall and lit up the planting in the borders. This section of the garden was dominated by a magnificent Indian Bean tree, Catalpa bignoniodes.
My walk then took me towards the more naturalistic settings, recognisable as the handiwork of the great landscape architects. I came across a ha-ha and a dramatic, tree-lined vista.
Another garden survivor from Capability Brown’s original planting of 1760 is said to be the monumental Oriental Plane, Platanus orientalis. Where branches touched the ground, they ended up rooting in the soil. The tree now sprawls over the full area of a football pitch without any supports. Its sprawling growth has earned it renown as the most spreading tree in the United Kingdom and recognition as one of the largest specimens in Europe.
The leaf of the Oriental Plane, Platanus orientalis, is more deeply lobed than that of the more familiar London Plane, Platanus x hispanica. The fruit is similar in appearance, but smaller.
© Karen Andrews
References and Further Reading
- BBC News (2011): Corsham Court Oriental Plane ‘most spreading tree in UK’. 7 June 2011
- Corsham Court (2010?): Corsham Court.
- Corsham Court (?): Corsham Court Gardens (Leaflet with map and tree list available on entry)
- Corsham Court (?): Corsham Court. (Leaflet about the historic collection of old master paintings, 18th-century state rooms and gardens). Jarrold Publishing.
- Cox, Robert (2016): Capability Brown and the Corsham Eye Catcher. Adam Architecture. 16 February 2016
- Johnson, Owen & More, David (2006): Collins Tree Guide. The Most Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Europe. William Collins. London.
- Methuen-Campbell, James (2004): Corsham Court. Jarrold Publishing.
- Pryce, Simon (1984): Some Noteworthy Trees at Corsham Court. Arboricultural Journal, Vol. 8, No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1080/03071375.1984.9756316
Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.