The more recently named ‘Secret Garden’ was once a formal grassed area known as a ‘cabinet’. It was created for Lord Orkney in the 1720s as part of a ‘wilderness’ garden design, which was popular in the 18th century. It was often used for lawn games such as bowling and tennis until a symmetrical rose garden was planted sometime around the post-war period.
In 1959 the third Viscount Lord Astor wanted to change the design of the garden and commissioned Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe to do that. He created a rose garden that provided the Astor family with a retreat. But the garden suffered from rose disease and the flower beds were replaced with herbaceous planting in 2002.
The current project has focused on reinstating the abstract design and atmosphere of the 1950s Rose Garden but will also include features of the original 18th-century wilderness landscape.
The National Trust has restored the Jellicoe arches and introduced a steel edge to the flower beds to help hold their abstract shapes. The team has also reduced the width of the outer shrub border to make way for lawns and a circular yew hedge which runs around the perimeter of the garden.Some 800 roses have been planted using a colour scheme of reds, oranges and yellows with no white or pink roses. Head gardener is Andrew Mudge.