Garden of the Year: Judges Choice winner 2020
New award this year rewards smaller gardens
2020 winner: Gresgarth Hall Gardens, Lancaster
A second award has been created this year to reflect smaller and less well-known gardens that are none the less worthy of recognition. Lady Cholmeley (Ursula), of Easton Walled Gardens in Lincolnshire. chairman of the Historic Houses Gardens Committee, said, ‘The judges’ choice might be considered the lifetime achievement award for gardens that may be open in a limited way or on a budget, but that shine with creativity, resilience and personality and still deserve global recognition for their standard of design, complexity of planting and great beauty.’
Ursula interviews the award’s inaugural winner in a short online film, showcasing the magical valley setting of Gresgarth Hall, home to Sir Mark and Lady Lennox Boyd (Arabella). ‘I like winning awards – I like being good at something,’ Arabella told Historic Houses members, ‘and for my team its wonderful – they’ll really feel connected to it’. The garden employs five people – small on the scale of many of the association’s members, who together account for 33,000 FTE jobs across the UK, but still an important contribution to employment in a rural area.
The award will help Gresgarth overcome the challenges of the pandemic, which have affected so many heritage sites so seriously this year, and at their worst threaten redundancies or closures on a large scale. ’Attracting more people is important,’ Arabella says. ‘We do need people here. We were one of the first gardens to reopen – in June – and we needed the income.’