While open for just a few days a year, Tirley Garth represents a hidden gem amongst Cheshire’s gardens – complete with designs of historic importance and inspirational and attractive planting.
Built from 1906 to 1912, this is a superb example of an Edwardian garden which complements a magnificent ‘smaller country house’ of the same period (which is not open to the public). The house has roughcast walls dressed in red Cheshire stone and a cloistered Lutyenesque entrance courtyard, or ‘garth’. This blends seamlessly with terraced gardens that were designed by C E Mallows and T Mawson. Both the building and gardens are Grade II* listed.
The gardens are divided into two main sections, with formal terraces next to the south front of the house, and with informal, largely wooded pleasure grounds enclosing the house and terraces.
The terraces are surrounded by stone retaining walls, and there is a distinctive rustic balustrade which is prominent throughout the gardens. Herbaceous borders run along the bottom of the retaining wall on the south side – and from the south and south-west of the house visitors can enjoy panoramic views across the leafy Cheshire Plain towards Beeston and Peckforton Castles and the distant Welsh Mountains.
North of the house was an orchard (now a car park). The semicircular north side of this former orchard can still be seen in a line of mature deciduous magnolias backed by evergreen shrubs. The south terrace leads to a rectangular sunken garden. This is laid out largely with stone paving, with shallow steps at the centre leading to a central area, which is laid out with panels of lawn separated by a cruciform pattern of stone paths – there is also a hydrangea walk to the east.
In the north-west corner of the south terrace, a steep flight of steps leads down into the formal garden. Here, there is an alpine feature flanked by raised stone beds, which leads to the Octagon. To the north of here is a croquet lawn and to the south a tennis lawn.
South of the Octagon is the Azalea Walk. This overlooks the Stream Valley and brings visitors to a circular pool set into the south east corner of the retaining wall. A Rose Garden is east of the Octagon and slopes down to a semicircular pattern of beds divided by narrow lawns and flights of stone steps.
Walk north and you will discover a Silver Garden. This is enclosed by stone walls and paved largely with stone flags – it also has a central sunken pond. Take the Spring Walk and you will end up at The Bothy – a wooden structure that has a central arch leading to a greenhouse.
Elsewhere in these extensive gardens, the Stream Valley is planted with shrubberies, including many varieties of rhododendrons. The Valley divides into two ponds, the Upper Pond and the Lower Pond. A rock garden, known as The Dell is to the west of the Lower Pond.
A kitchen garden lies north-east of the house, this is enclosed by clipped hedges and now largely laid to lawn. At its end is a large wooden Bothy – and beyond that is a glasshouse and frames, located in a small yard.