Early Autumn in Harewood’s Gardens

Views of the Terrace garden at Harewood House in Leeds

A note from Trevor Nicholson, Head Gardener, Harewood House Trust

The gardens team at Harewood are responsible for maintaining over 100 acres of beautiful Grade 1 listed gardens, grounds and woodlands. From the elaborate colour schemes, flower borders and fountains on the Victorian terrace gardens, to the naturalistic planting around the lakeside and in the Himalayan garden, the team and I work extremely hard to ensure that every space is not only looking its best, but also being planned and developed to eventually reach its full potential.

The Victorian parterre, on the south front of the house, is the jewel-in-the-crown among Harewood’s well-known gardens. With over a mile of box hedging clipped into an intricate pattern and filled with thousands of seasonal plants and bulbs, this formal garden takes a great deal of precision and care to maintain. At this time of year, Tom and Harry, the terrace gardeners, are busy pruning, dead-heading and weeding, as well as implementing a programme of turf improvements in preparation for the winter months. The tall hornbeam hedges have been clipped and, in the coming few weeks, we will start lifting and dividing tender plants in the herbaceous borders, moving them to other parts of the gardens and making way for the planting of thousands of tulips.

The Archery Border, situated at the foot of the terrace wall, is in its prime at this time of year. The south facing aspect coupled with the 15ft high sandstone wall provides the right environment for growing a range of exotic and tender plants. The hot colour scheme for late summer interest includes Mediterranean and tropical plants, and is a bold and vibrant display. We’ve just a visit from two gardeners from Kew who have written to me describing the Archery Border as being still “amazing!” at this time of year. The twelve-foot-high giant Dahlia (D. imperialis), flowering gingers, red hot pokers and Mexican sunflowers, as well as the ‘Devil’s Tobacco’ (Lobelia tupa) are all making the most the mild conditions of early autumn.

Visit Yorkshire to enjoy gardens at Harewood

The bridge was added in 2006 to increase paths through the garden and offering new views of the area.

The Himalayan Garden is one of my personal favourites; I have spent more than twenty years researching Chines and Himalayan plants and sympathetically developing this charming and tranquil garden. Helen, the gardener who maintains this area, is busy weeding the primula glades ready for new planting to be incorporated for spring colour. These boggy areas are being enriched annually, and with the candelabra primulas in late May and early June creating a vivid carpet of colour alongside the waterfall and stream, it’s a wonderfully vibrant display, which I would recommend visiting every year.

Harewood House has an popular walled garden

Beyond the formal gardens, Harewood is also home to an historic Walled Garden. It may not be widely known that the Walled Garden was in fact one of the first structures Edwin Lascelles had built when setting about constructing the Harewood you see today. Built in stages from 1755, a couple of years before the first stones were laid for the house, the warm red brick walls are worlds away from the formal Terraces many of our visitors are so familiar with.

At the time, the Walled Garden, with its double-brick ‘hot’ walls, was cutting edge cultivation technology. The desire to have soft fruits and exotic foods out of season, which was at the height of Victorian fashion at county houses like Harewood, which would host lavish dinners with grapes, figs, and melons normally only grown in warmer, European climates.

The enclosed space with high walls acts perfectly as a suntrap, literally! The south-western angle of Harewood’s Walled Garden captures the sun’s rays, warming the soil quickly to create perfect growing conditions for fruit, vegetables and flowers. They also act as protection from wildlife such as deer, and as a visual barrier between the designed landscape and the functionally arranged spaces necessary for intensive production.

Spanning an acre of land, the Walled Garden currently houses twelve plots and a fruit orchard, all of which is maintained by Jen, our gardener, along with Tom, our new horticulture apprentice from Askham Bryan College. The mixed flowers and vegetable beds create a strong visual impact as you arrive through the old wooden door.

An authentic Walled Garden at Harewood

Cabbages are grown in the Walled Garden at Harewood

This year, the harvest has been particularly good. The warm weather has created a long growing season, and with high soil temperatures has supported bountiful yields of such things as potatoes and brassicas.

Before Harewood closes to the public on October 30th, visitors should come and see the beautiful dahlias in full bloom and enjoy the wonderful orchard bearing autumnal fruits. The late tender and hardy perennials are looking great too.

Across the entire gardens, we are also turning our attention towards our spring bulb planting schemes. It’s a huge undertaking each year which is made possible with the help of many of our garden volunteers. I am busy designing new tulip schemes for the Terrace, daffodil glades along the lakeside and bluebells for the woodlands.

Maintaining this wonderful space is a real privilege and one that we enjoy sharing with our visitors. We hope that you can join us and enjoy the last of the autumnal summer sun.

Nature’s Carpet


Last Saturday morning I stood with the artist, Sue Lawty, and our Educational Manager, Zoe, looking with amazement at the wonderful arrange of flowers, leaves, twigs and things I don’t even have a name for, that had been collected for the Nature’s Carpet workshop.

As part of the Yorkshire Year of the Textile, Sue Lawty had been invited to run a creative event, responding to our Axminster carpets. If you have visited the house, you will have seen these carpets, one in the Yellow Drawing Room and the other in the Music Room. The pattern in each carpet reflects the ceiling of the room and they are extremely rare – one of only a handful still remaining in their original country house settings.

Harewood House Trust is currently working on raising funds to pay for one of these carpets to be conserved and we have been talking to our visitors about this all year. Both carpets are in a very fragile state, but the Yellow Drawing Room carpet is even more urgently requiring care and attention; it’s an expensive and complicated procedure. Just moving the carpets is difficult because of their size and fragility requiring eight people and hours of time.

The workshop provided a fun and creative way to raise the profile of the Yellow Drawing Room carpet, but also created an opportunity to make something amazing in a day! Our gardening team went foraging for leaves and flowers which were separated by type and colour into different bags. Even though autumn hasn’t waved its magic paintbrush over the landscape just yet, the variety of colours was quite extraordinary and made me realise that the landscape is far from just being `green`.

All through the day families with young children and adults who just wanted to get creative came and worked with Sue to build a multi-coloured pattern that echoes some of the beautiful patterns of the original carpet. We had photographs of the Axminster carpets pinned up which provided inspiration and a starting point. There was no instruction that it `had to be done this way` as Sue encouraged everyone to make their own response by working on one little bit, and together, over the day, we made a beautiful `Nature’s Carpet`.

Nicola Stephenson, Exhibitions and Projects Producer

Sue Lawty is an artist who uses unconventional materials to make contemporary artworks, including tapestries and carpets made from stone. Her work is exhibited internationally and she was Artist in Residence at the V & A Museum, London in 2005.

Thousands set for Brownlee Tri 2016

Harewood House is a great place to visit

Thousands of triathletes, young and old will descend on Harewood House, Leeds this Saturday for Alistair and Jonny Brownlee’s fourth annual triathlon.

The Olympic triathlon gold and silver medallists will join over 1500 registered participants and a crowd of 5000 spectators at the spectacular Harewood Estate.

In addition to taking part in the Sprint, Super Sprint or Relay, the Brownlee Brothers encourage participants to bring along their friends and family and enjoy the Entertainment Village.

Speaking upon returning home after finishing runner-up in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Championships in dramatic fashion, Olympic silver medallist Jonny Brownlee said,

“With just days to go until the big day we can’t wait for the event to start. It’s always a great way to end the season and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone there.”

Double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee said,

“Brownlee Tri is a fantastic family day and we hope to see as many of you as possible at Harewood House on Saturday. We wish everyone taking part the very best of luck!”

After months of build-up, the event is nearly upon us. This year’s route includes a fantastic open water swim with pontoon entry and exit, a traffic-free closed road cycle and a new off-road run, covering trails that the Brownlee brothers train on.

The Brownlee Tri will also have a packed Entertainment Village offering sports activities, a variety of delicious catering and refreshment outlets, music, stands and retail. Described as the “perfect balance of a family day out and sporting event” and “an amazing first triathlon”, the Brownlee Tri offers something for everyone.

The event also features a free Brownlee Foundation Kids’ Duathlon delivered by the British Triathlon Trust for children of all ages, offering the perfect introduction to the sport.

Find out more information at or head to Harewood House on Saturday 24 September to be a part of it. Car parking is £5 per car with registration and the Entertainment Village opening at 8.00am.

The Chinese State Circus – “DYNASTY”

The internationally acclaimed Chinese State Circus returns to the UK in 2016 by returning to its cultural roots in an innovatively spectacular new production – “DYNASTY”. The Big Top is coming to Harewood House, Leeds from 27th – 30th Oct.

Circus at Harewood House, Leeds

Breathtaking in its simplicity, “DYNASTY” projects into a contemporary setting an art form that has thrilled audiences for more than 2,000 years, where low-tech everyday objects are transformed into hi-tech acrobatic equipment.  Hurtling porcelain jars… dynamically spinning plates… balancing upon gigantic pyramids of tables and chairs framed by the delicate strands of silk supporting cascading aerialists.

Stunning world class Chinese acrobats, aerial artistes and jugglers interact with the super-human physical skills and dexterity of the masters of martial arts – the legendary Shaolin Warriors.

Circus at Harewood House Leeds

The nonstop action from start to awesome finale as thrill follows thrill is set to a soaring musical score accompanied by the rhythmic beats of Chinese percussion.  Incredible acrobatics, that until now could only be created through special digital video effects, are performed live in front of an audience. What seems impossible becomes a reality, earning the Chinese State Circus the accolade “incomparable”.

After a break of five years, this lavishly costumed ground-breaking Big Top production of the Chinese State Circus is set to raise to astounding new levels the standard by which others will be judged.  The history of the Chinese State Circus spans 25 years when it was conceived by Creative Director Phillip Gandey, who became the first Circus Director in Europe to obtain permission from the Chinese Cultural authorities to tour a Big Top production of his own creation performed entirely by Chinese acrobats.

Circus at Harewood House

Phillip has traveled extensively throughout China to watch and select the very best circus artistes who will not only be worthy of continuing the proud and unequaled tradition of acrobatic excellence in the Chinese State Circus, but also be capable of raising  the “incomparable” standards to even higher contemporary heights .

“In our latest production we have returned to the pure and honest perfection in acrobatics upon which our reputation is based,” said Phillip. “We have the world class artistes capable of performing the excellence required. In “DYNASTY” we have created a show with:

no gimmicks… no fakes… no retakes… quite simply…

the incomparable Chinese State Circus.”

Costumes from ITV’s Victoria series to go on display at Harewood House

Victoria on ITV was filmed at Harewood and includes Jenna Coleman

Harewood House was recently used as a major set for ITV’s Victoria series. The crew filmed across Yorkshire for several months during winter 2015/16; Harewood was fortunate enough to be one of the key locations. The production company, Mammoth Screen, used much of Harewood’s State Floor, Below Stairs and part of the Estate. There was some amazing set dressing transforming Harewood into Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.

Visit Leeds to see costumes worn by Jenna Coleman in Victoria

To celebrate the success of the programme, which has been ITV’s highest rated drama of 2016, the opulent rooms on Harewood’s State Floor will come to life with costumes from the programme. Outfits worn by Jenna Coleman who plays Queen Victoria will be displayed throughout the 2017 season.

Alexis Guntrip, Marketing Manager, Harewood House said:

“We are delighted to be exhibiting costumes from Victoria in 2017. We worked very closely with the production company throughout the filming period; this is the icing on the cake! The programme has created a lot of interest from visitors to Harewood already. The costume exhibition will provide a wonderful opportunity for period drama fans to become part of the story.”

Alongside the costumes, visitors will be able to explore this fascinating age through the eyes of three influential women. Lady Louisa, 3rd Countess of Harewood, Lady Charlotte Canning and Queen Victoria herself. See personal objects owned by Queen Victoria and her Lady in Waiting, Charlotte, and learn about how Lady Louisa altered the very fabric of Harewood House in a grand redevelopment.

New Victorian Harewood Tour

Inspired by the 2017 exhibitions, Harewood is offering a new group tour for parties of 15 or more. The one hour tour will be presented by Harewood’s expert guides and will include objects, personal letters and archival material from Harewood’s collection. Alongside the historical stories, groups can learn more about how Harewood prepares for filming in the house, what rooms were used in Victoria, and see the wonderful dresses worn by Jenna Coleman in the series.


Victoria – a costume exhibition

English School miniature of Queen Victoria replicating a Franz Xaver Winterhalter portrait

Queen Victoria’s writing set

A bracelet given to Lady Charlotte Canning by Queen Victoria