Sutton Park is situated eight miles north of York. It is a classically built house dating from 1.747. To the south lies the garden, of which the main features are three wide terraces, two of them planted with overflowing borders. The third has, for a centre piece, a spacious lily.
Though open to the public for many months every year, the garden at Sutton Park is very personal, and has been made in the last twenty years by its owners, the late Major Reginald Sheffield and his wife.
Let us visit the garden terrace by terrace. The upper terrace is largely paved to provide a sitting-out area to the house, the walls of which are hung with roses and clematis. One clematis, in particular, is spectacular in late summer, the white, foamy-floweredrecta. To left and right on the upper terrace, and sheltered by the house walls, are two borders which could well merit the expressive French phrase ‘parterres precieux’. These twin borders are planted with carefully chosen plants, some quite rare, such as unusual euphorbias, artemisias, oregan, and the exotic and seldom grown tigridia. The paving of the terrace itself is set with low mat-forming plants, long suffering – or masochistic? – things such as gold and silver aromatic thymes, jade leaved acaenas and velvety stachys. Here and there, making effective exclamation marks, are tufts of the Satin Ins (Sisyrinchium striatum), from Chile.
On the tar side of the top terrace and opposite the house, is a fully planted border with standard roses and wistarias to give height, and clumps of green tobaccoand claret-leaved penllas to provide some exotic notes of colour. Steps, flanked on either side by terracotta bowls of mixed geraniums, lead down to the second terrace and the rose garden.
Above: A flower-framed view of the lower terrace. The rose is Chaplin’s Pink Climber.
The rose garden at Sutton Park is considered to be one of the best designed in England and the original plan was devised by the eminent garden planner of some years ago, the late Percy Cane. In it, the roses are underplanted in the modern way with low-growing pinks, phlox and violas. Below the terrace walls are more borders; these are planted rather with shrubs such as, and than with herbaceous material, thus saving labour and providing height and form in winter.
The third of the terraces at Sutton Park is embellished with a lily. Water lilies star the surface, and a hundred gold fish show the glint of their scales between their shining pads.
Further afield than the three terraces that have been described are areas planted with rare trees, shading drifts of daffodils in spring, and here and there set with borders of shade-loving plants such as bergenias, hostas and Japanese. Further to the east lies a wood with romantic paths cut through it and a fine central ride. This has for ‘eye-catcher’ a classical stone urn of great simplicity, placed at thejunction of two woodland paths.
The garden at Sutton Park is not a garden on the scale of Hampton Court or Chatsworth. It is maintained to perfection by a minimum staff, and the hard physical work of its devoted owners. It is an example of how a handsome pleasure ground can still be well kept, if the owners are prepared to do much of the work themselves.
OPEN April 7th (approx) – September 29th (approx): Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. In October Sundays only (visitors should check before going).
LOCATION Entrance gates in village of Sutton on the Forest, about 8 miles north of York on the BI363.