Italian Garden Restoration

The popular Italian Garden is to be restored to its glorious 19th Century appearance thanks to a generous donation.

Artist's impression of the new Italian Garden at Chiswick Credit: Liz Pepperell
An artist's impression of the new Italian Garden (Liz Pepperell)

The popular Italian Garden in front of the conservatory is to be faithfully restored to its once glorious 19th Century appearance thanks to a generous donation from the late Miss Phyllis Bishop.

This includes reinstating the lovely floral border and tall evergreens that once enclosed the Italian Garden. These were an integral part of the Italian Garden when it was created in 1814.

The garden was notable for being the first major formal garden to have been made in Britain for over 50 years, whilst its floral border was a tribute to the Empress Josephine’s rose garden at Malmaison, outside Paris.
The Empress had imported plants from the firm of Kennedy and Lee When the young Lewis Kennedy was asked for proposals for the garden at Chiswick, memories of Malmaison were fresh in his mind.

Kennedy devised a French-style parterre, but it was in the floral border in particular that he put on display the latest in horticultural fashion. Three rows of low China roses were set out near the path: these had been brought from the Far East and were causing a sensation because their flowering season extended into autumn. Behind would be white lilies, and behind them roses trained onto rope swags, a very recent innovation. Mop-headed robinias, grafted at a man’s height and pruned into shape, were balls of pink flowers in May and June. Amongst the backing evergreens were camellias, also recently imported and were much coveted for their pink flowers standing out against the dark green leaves in spring.

This display, now to be restored, was absolutely the latest in horticulture.  It provided a stunning display of roses and other flowers with an extended flowering season, with a backdrop of dark evergreens. More recent rose gardens, like Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park, are part of the tradition given such a boost at Chiswick.

Over time these exquisite floral displays became neglected and evergreens encroached. Now this border is to be re-created, replacing the 1960s yew hedge which currently encloses the garden.

The garden restoration works include the repair of the ornamental urns and the whole will provide a beautiful setting for the conservatory which is due to open to the public in February 2010.

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