The gardens are constantly evolving and the 10-acre site set amongst sheep-grazed parkland provides plenty of opportunity for innovation.
Rode’s Grade II listed park and gardens are amongst the finest in Cheshire. A seventeenth-century survey described ‘orchards, gardens and courts within the Greene before ye hall’ but there are no further records of the grounds until 1790 when Richard Wilbraham Bootle commissioned a ‘Red Book’ from the landscape gardener Humphry Repton (1752 – 1818).
It was Randle Wilbraham III, Richard’s son, who implemented some of Repton’s proposals, employing in 1803 John Webb (1754 1828), a partner of William Eames. Webb constructed a new entrance drive way, laid out the five-acre Wild Garden in the dell to the west of the house, and created two artificial lakes: the ‘less water’ or ‘Stew Pond’ and the one-mile long ‘large water’ known as ‘Rode Pool’. There is a tradition that when the family were at home a canvas of a waterfall was placed to create the illusion from the house that there was a cascade between the two lakes.
Today, with the help of two gardeners, Anne, wife of the current baronet, has extended the seasonal interest in Rode’s pleasure gardens from early Spring to late Autumn. The highlight of the year is undoubtedly February when Rode becomes one of the few gardens in the North West that opens for ‘Snowdrop Walks’.
Spring daffodils follow snowdrops, hellebores and other winter blooms and soon afterwards the woodland is carpeted with bluebells and fragrant lily-of-the-valley. By April the Wild Garden is ablaze with many varieties of rhododendrons and come May clumps of hostas and primulas brighten the damp and shady banks of the adjacent Stew Pond. Professor Pratt’s scented azaleas are planted here, alongside Boathouse Walk, a path leading directly to Rode Pool. A distant view of the water and the Cheshire countryside is presented from Nesfield’s terrace; the formal rose gardens are at their best at the beginning of June, with the coloured herbaceous border lasting well into high summer.
With new plantings, the gardens are constantly evolving and the 10-acre site set amongst sheep-grazed parkland provides plenty of opportunity for innovation. The small Italian Garden, created in 2007 in the ruined Old Tenants’ Hall, has a fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees. It wittily evokes the famous ruined gardens at Ninfa, south of Rome, whose first English roses were planted in the late nineteenth century by the gardens’ creator, Ada Bootle Wilbraham, the wife of Duke Onorato Caetani and a descendant of Richard Wilbraham Bootle.
We are a member of Cheshire's Gardens of Distinction.