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Blog Post

This week’s guest blogger is Alison Quigley a volunteer gardener at Holehird Gardens an RHS partner garden in the beautiful Lake District.

Holehird Gardens

With glorious views over Windermere lake to the fells beyond, Holehird Gardens repays a visit at any time of the year. This 10 acre site was originally landscaped in Victorian times, the current gardens were created and are maintained entirely by volunteer members of the Lakeland Horticultural Society. The Society’s aim is to ‘promote and develop the science, practice and art of horticulture, particularly with regard to the conditions prevailing in the Lake District’. Those conditions include an exposed site with neutral-to-acid soil in a cool, wet climate, compensated by the superb fellside setting and extensive views.

The highlight for many visitors is the walled garden, with its splendid herbaceous borders and island beds, all enclosed by the original Victorian wall. Beyond the walled garden, visitors can explore the wide range of planting conditions presented by the site, and the plants chosen to suit those conditions. These range from the thin soil of the rock and scree gardens to the streamside beds with their moist, sometimes boggy, conditions. Plants that flourish at Holehird include alpines, rhododendrons and azaleas, camellias, magnolias, heathers, bulbs (especially snowdrops, cyclamen and wild daffodils), gentians, Hosta’s, meconopsis and ferns. Varieties of hydrangeas and roses, not usually expected to thrive in Lakeland conditions, have been carefully selected by volunteers to demonstrate that, by choosing the right varieties, it is still possible to grow them. Do take a look at our website:


National Collections

Holehird Gardens in collaboration with Plant Heritage own National Collections of Astilbe, Dabeocia, Meconopsis and Polystichum. We are also in the process of being awarded National Collection status for Tanacetum parthenium and Hosta Mouse Series. Additionally, we own the Lakeland Collection of Hydrangea, all these collections are open to the public and are best seen at different times of the year.

Volunteering at Holehird Gardens

I have volunteered here for two years and I manage the amazing hosta bed with over 200 giant, large and medium hosta, along with two plant theatres and a raised bed of small and miniature hosta. I love to volunteer here alongside others who share my interest and passion for the outdoors and plants, volunteering gives an immense sense of achievement and belonging. As the gardens here are run entirely by a plethora of volunteers, there are many other roles and responsibilities so always something for all to do year-round. Additionally, to gardening, I am on the education committee and I manage the social media for the Society. Do find Holehird Gardens on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @HolehirdGardens

Access and Facilities

Visitor reception is operated by Lakeland Horticultural volunteers from Easter to the end of October, for information and the sale of publications and hot drinks. The gardens are open year round – there is always something worth seeing, whatever time of year you visit Holehird. The garden is set in a fell side setting and has some accessible facilities, assistance dogs only. In Autumn 2022 there will be extensive improvements to allow better access for those with mobility issues. This is a very exciting and extensive fellside path project whereby we hope to give better access to our visitors, watch this space…

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