Opening Times

In November and December the Courtyard Café, Gift Shop and A Day’s Walk Food Hall will be open, however,  The Hall is closed to the public over the Winter months.

Café, Gardens, Gift Shop, Food Hall Hall
Fri - Sun 10:00am - 4pm Closed

The Gardens

The gardens at Holker have evolved over many hundreds of years, under the guidance of generations of the Cavendish Family. Each owner has made their mark, adding new features and plantings, to create a garden that is now rich in character and beauty. At its heart, it remains a family garden and while its scale is grand, it retains an intimacy in its planting and design. 

 

The 23 acres of immaculately kept gardens comprise of a series of formal gardens set within a more informal landscape of interesting trees, shrubs and meadows. They are planted to offer year-round inspiration for casual visitors and keen gardeners alike. The spring is a riot of colour with displays of tulips, daffodils, wallflowers and spring meadows, framed by majestic Rhododendrons and Magnolias. Summer brings billowing borders packed with colour and exciting tender plants, and wonderful summer flowering trees such as Styrax, Stewartia and Eucryphia. Autumn brings its own show in the stunning autumn colours across the gardens. 

The Elliptical Garden

The tightly clipped hedges and quadrants of herbaceous boarders in the Elliptical Gardens echo the styles and fashions of the early 1700’s, when the first formal garden was laid on this footprint. While strong Yew forms still offer structure, especially in winter, softer planting in more recent years with pleached apple trees, a Lime archway and views across the Park and Wildflower Meadow help welcome visitors and orientate those who are here for the first time. 

The Summer Garden 

Between cherry trees and two plump topiary Sphinxes, the path narrows down shallow steps into the Summer Garden. Here, during the 1980’s, an old sunken croquet lawn was replaced with boxed formal lawns and deep billowing herbaceous borders. Contrasting light and shade from the dense Portugal Laurel tunnel creates drama through the centre of the Summer Garden. Tulips bring a riot of colour in the spring and careful planting schemes keep the borders vibrant with colours, textures and smells throughout the summer. 

The Sunken Garden

At the heart of the garden, within a less formal setting of lawns and woodland, lies the romantic Sunken Garden. The semi-circular stone structure, with terraces and a deep water trough, was designed by Thomas Mawson in the early 20th Century. The original concept of a rose garden has evolved towards looser herbaceous planting more suitable to our climate. With views of the estuary and fells, this peaceful garden is blissfully sheltered, a suntrap heavy with scent and the buzz of bees. 

The Meadow

The Wildflower Meadow links the formal gardens to the ancient parkland and the natural landscape beyond. A network of mown paths meander through the grasses and rich tapestry of Yellow rattle, scabious, Martigan lilies and rare bee orchids. Cowslips, lilies, crocuses and a handful of rogue tulips also flourish, creating a sustainable haven for birds and insects. 

The Labyrinth  

In a peaceful corner of the Wildflower Meadow, protected by Parkland trees lies the Labyrinth. The idea behind it was to provide a quiet place for reflection that would be aesthetically pleasing and a point of interest and curiosity for everyone. The design was taken from a Hindu Temple in Northern India with the addition of a slightly raised asymmetrical centre forming the yin-yang symbol. Twelve slate monoliths rise from the path, echoing the Cumbrian tradition of stone circles.

Labyrinths have held people’s curiosity since the dawn of time, and they have been used in a myriad of different ways. Interpretation here has been kept as open as possible to encourage universal appeal and engagement on a personal level. We hope our visitors take time to walk the enjoy the Labyrinth and benefit from their experience. 

The Sundial

A vast slate Sundial rests on a boulder at the end of the Wildflower Meadow, perfectly telling the time when the sun hits its beautiful carvings. Designed by Sir Mark Lennox-Boyd, the edges are decorated with signs of the zodiac and its shallow bowl, etched with timelines, emulates the earliest known sundial from over 2000 years ago. Like the standing stones of the Labyrinth nearby, the slate comes from the Estates quarry at nearby Kirkby In Furness. 

The National Collection of Styracaceae

The gardens at Holker are home to a number of very unusual and, in some instances, rare plants including The National Collection of Styracaceae.

The collection started over 30 years ago when Lord Cavendish inherited a modest representation of the Styracaceae family. The Kew form of Styrax japonicus was then donated in the mid-90s and since then the collection has further grown to include;

  • S. americanus
  • S. hemsleyanus
  • S. japonicus “Benibana”
  • S. japonicus “Fargesii”
  • S. japonicus “Peak Chimes”
  • S. japonicus var. Formosa (a simply brilliant plant)
  • S. obassia.

Almost all our Styracaceae have come to us as gifts rather than through purchase.

Garden Features

 

Holker Great Lime

At c400 years old with a wide fluted trunk of 25ft/7.9m this magnificent specimen is designated one of The Tree Council’s 50 Great British Trees. The fashion for pleaching and trimming in the early 1700’s made the Lime tree a favourite for gardens of the time and The Holker Lime is undoubtedly a survivor of the first formal garden here at Holker. Since then, it has been carefully tended by generations of owners and gardeners, lowering the crown occasionally to preserve health and longevity. Today its huge trunk stands in a cavern sculpted by overhanging branches with a thick undergrowth of crocuses and fresh garlic in the spring.

Holker Great Lime

At c400 years old with a wide fluted trunk of 25ft/7.9m this magnificent specimen is designated one of The Tree Council’s 50 Great British Trees. The fashion for pleaching and trimming in the early 1700’s…

Neptune & Cascade

The building of the Cascade, largely undertaken in-house in the late 1980’s, celebrated the easing of heavy financial constraints on the estate and was the first real enhancement in the gardens for over 100 years. Running water was brought into the garden, flowing over cobbled rills designed to throw reflections on to overhanging trees. Either side, towering Holme Oaks have given way to a variety of recently planted Eucryphia. A stone statue of Neptune sits at the head of the cascade looking over the estuary, surrounded by a young grove of Cypress trees.

 

Neptune & Cascade

The building of the Cascade, largely undertaken in-house in the late 1980’s, celebrated the easing of heavy financial constraints on the estate and was the first real enhancement in the gardens for over 100 years….

Pagan Grove

This giant egg-shaped grassy hollow was the concept of the Landscape Architect Kim Wilkie. It is a wonderful addition to the garden, sometimes filled with music and entertainment but more commonly it is a place for quiet reflection, picnics or for children to roll down it’s banks. Although the Pagan Grove has been complete for a while now, it is a long-term project. The careful planting around it has been chosen primarily for fragrance and autumn colour. These trees and shrubs will mature to create a secret leafy chamber for the visitor to discover.

Pagan Grove

This giant egg-shaped grassy hollow was the concept of the Landscape Architect Kim Wilkie. It is a wonderful addition to the garden, sometimes filled with music and entertainment but more commonly it is a place…

At c400 years old with a wide fluted trunk of 25ft/7.9m this magnificent specimen is designated one of The Tree Council’s 50 Great British Trees. The fashion for pleaching and trimming in the early 1700’s made the Lime tree a favourite for gardens of the time and The Holker Lime is undoubtedly a survivor of the first formal garden here at Holker. Since then, it has been carefully tended by generations of owners and gardeners, lowering the crown occasionally to preserve health and longevity. Today its huge trunk stands in a cavern sculpted by overhanging branches with a thick undergrowth of crocuses and fresh garlic in the spring.

The building of the Cascade, largely undertaken in-house in the late 1980’s, celebrated the easing of heavy financial constraints on the estate and was the first real enhancement in the gardens for over 100 years. Running water was brought into the garden, flowing over cobbled rills designed to throw reflections on to overhanging trees. Either side, towering Holme Oaks have given way to a variety of recently planted Eucryphia. A stone statue of Neptune sits at the head of the cascade looking over the estuary, surrounded by a young grove of Cypress trees.

 

This giant egg-shaped grassy hollow was the concept of the Landscape Architect Kim Wilkie. It is a wonderful addition to the garden, sometimes filled with music and entertainment but more commonly it is a place for quiet reflection, picnics or for children to roll down it’s banks. Although the Pagan Grove has been complete for a while now, it is a long-term project. The careful planting around it has been chosen primarily for fragrance and autumn colour. These trees and shrubs will mature to create a secret leafy chamber for the visitor to discover.