Due to a private event, if you are visiting Waddesdon between 17-24 Aug, there will be some disruption in the gardens on the North & South Fronts, Parterre & Aviary. Ticket holders will be contacted directly.

Posted 13 July 2022

Exhibitions Gardens

See the gardens at Waddesdon then and now

This summer, planting on the Parterre and at the Aviary is inspired by rare photos of the gardens from 1910 to celebrate Alice de Rothschild.

Step back in time at Waddesdon this summer. As part of our centenary celebrations for Alice de Rothschild (1847-1922), second owner of Waddesdon, we’ve recreated some of the garden beds in the Aviary and on the Parterre as they would have been in her day.

Alice was a passionate gardener. Her letters brim with horticultural expertise, she carried a weeding tool whenever in the gardens, and pioneered new gardening techniques including three-dimensional carpet bedding. Incredibly, she is even thought to have designed the gardens herself, working closely with her Head Gardener rather than using a professional landscaper.

Autochromes of the Parterre at Waddesdon c. 1910
Autochromes of the Parterre at Waddesdon c. 1910

To recreate the bedding, the Gardens team studied rare colour autochromes (an early form of photograph) of the grounds as they were in Alice’s day. They tried to match the plants they could see with varieties they knew would have been used in Victorian planting, as well as those plants which Alice’s gardeners were growing at the time in Paradise, the productive garden located near the Dairy. Similar plants were then used to create colourful summer bedding for the Aviary and Parterre.

Along with bedding inspired by Miss Alice, there are also displays in the gardens which use gardening techniques which were pioneered by her! You’ll see two carpet beds on the Parterre and even a 3D bird near the Aviary, similar to the one below from 1910!

Autochromes of 3D carpet bedding in the shape of a bird c. 1910
Autochromes of 3D carpet bedding in the shape of a bird c. 1910

See the Parterre bedding then and now…

Plan your summer visit

The beds will look their best between between July and September so why not come and visit this summer? Waddesdon is open Wed-Sun, 10am-5pm.

Find out more about the gardens 

Plan your visit