Parterre & carpet bedding
Waddesdon is famous for its Carpet Bedding and every spring and summer we change the design of the beds on the Parterre and on either side of the South Fountain.
Those who visit us frequently might be surprised at the appearance of some areas of the Garden. Waddesdon is investing in a more sustainable horticultural and garden management plan, reducing waste, replanting bulbs, using green manures and dedicating vast areas of the grounds to wildflower meadows.
We are in a period of transition and while the gardens may not be as polished as in previous years, they are healthier, more environmentally friendly and are gearing up for some incredible late summer colour.
This year, there is a more cottage garden feel to the Parterre. Visitors can enjoy the sights and smell of herbaceous plants, including lavender, salvia, nemesia, verbena and diascia. In the outer beds, see roses and in the scroll beds rose petals created by plants link to the Nick Knight exhibition in the Coach House gallery.
The plants will be displayed in diamond pattern picked up from the ivy on the South tower and linking to the tiled rooves of the estate, such as the Dairy. There will not be the usual carpet bedding design on the Parterre, instead the bed will be planted up with a mixture of lavender, ornamental sage and bright yellow ground cover.
What is a parterre?
A French-inspired formal garden, a parterre is made up of a symmetrical pattern of beds set off by mown grass and contained by neat pathways and low clipped hedges. Usually designed to be seen from above, in our case from the raised terrace and the main reception rooms and bedrooms on the south side of the Manor. In the centre sits a magnificent fountain, originally made for an Italian palace in Colorno. The parterre was restored in 1994 to designs by Beth Rothschild.
In 2000 Waddesdon won the Europa Nostra award for ‘the extraordinary re-creation with modern techniques of a major Victorian garden’.
It takes two months to change over the bedding displays, but the carpet bed, which is grown in plant "tiles", is assembled in a single day!Mike Buffin, Gardens Manager
To the north and south of the parterre are the carpet beds, these are larger panels of planting which we use for complex designs. Each bed is made up of some 26,500 tiny plants, chosen for their compact habit to create a living mosaic. In fact the French name for carpet bedding is Mosaiculture.
In 2000 we launched an initiative called Art in the Garden, when a contemporary artist was invited to design the bedding. Early collaborators included John Hubbard and Oscar de la Renta. Now, we also make a link between the exhibitions or displays in the house.
For 2021, there will not be the usual carpet bedding design on the Parterre, instead the bed will be planted up with a mixture of lavender, ornamental sage and bright yellow ground cover. Visitors cans see an example of carpet bedding in the Pheasant (below) come September.
Watch a carpet bed design being planted
We choose plants to create the colour, texture and pattern of our agreed design. Kernock Park Plants, a specialist nursery in Cornwall, changes this design into a planting plan using a digital system called Instaplant. A coloured dot represents each plant on the plan. From this tiles of bedding plants are created. These tiles are then planted out to create the overall pattern.
Carpet bedding sculpture
Gardening was a passion of Miss Alice de Rothschild, Ferdinand’s sister. She was known to carry a weeding tool everywhere, and pioneered new gardening techniques at Waddesdon. One of these was the newly invented concept of 3D carpet bedding. An example can be seen in the Pheasant near the Aviary Garden come September.
The two side panels of the Parterre are ribbon bedding which as the name suggests, means narrow, scrolling beds, mounded to give them height and depth of colour. These are planted with bands of different species to create a colourful display.