Pleasure Garden

a listening garden
by Genevieve Lacey


Harewood House

Harewood House, Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG, United Kingdom, Opens 29 June 2019

Harewood sits in the heart of Yorkshire and is one of the Treasure Houses of England. The House was built in the 18th century and is set in over 100 acres of exquisite gardens.

Owned by David and Diane Lascelles, Earl and Countess of Harewood, the Harewood Estate manages the countryside surrounding Harewood House. It has a nationally recognised conservation programme with particular emphasis on the restoration of historic buildings, as well as the protection and development of wildlife habitats. In recent years great emphasis has been placed on the creation of new habitat. Joint initiatives with Natural England, Yorkshire Water and the RSPB have seen the reintroduction of Red Kites into Yorkshire’s countryside. The Estate has created wetland habitats (both ponds and marsh) providing the perfect environment for marshy grasses, rushes and other green plant life to grow, supporting wild birds nesting.

The 100 acres of gardens at Harewood are full of variety, with plants from all over the world. All this in the setting of a magnificent landscape created by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Harewood’s Head Gardener, Trevor Nicholson, oversees the landscape, managing projects on the dazzling range of gardens at Harewood, including the Terrace, the Lakeside Garden, the Himalayan Garden and the Walled Garden.

Pleasure Garden was installed in the Walled Garden. Sloping almost imperceptibly, its gentle dip reveals carefully sculpted secrets of light and landscape, and Red Kites wheel above. Pheasants cluck and scurry between beds, where meticulous rows of vegetables are offset by an old orchard, and between the two, a wildflower meadow. Willow pods are dotted around the garden making perfect listening-picnicking spots, all set beside the mirror lake, home to hundreds of birds.

Genevieve Lacey

Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens

Melbourne, 18 March - 7 April 2019

Melbourne’s Botanic Gardens are dear to the city’s inhabitants, a place of childhood adventures, romantic trysts, family picnics, long summer evenings, and tranquil times reading in the shade of one of the many noble trees.

Established in 1846 by Lieutenant Governor Charles La Trobe, they began life as a swampy site, and are now recognised as one of the most significant gardens and plant collections in Australia. The National Herbarium of Victoria was established in the 1850s by then Director, Ferdinand von Mueller, who also built the foundations of what is today one of Australia’s most important dried plant, algae and fungi collections. In 1873 Mueller was succeeded by William Guilfoyle, whose vision shaped the gardens enjoyed today, with their scenic panoramas and sweeping lawns. He was inspired by sub-tropical plants and used many of them in his landscapes, including flaxes and cordylines from New Zealand, palms, and other foliage plants. Among his creations are the recently restored Fern Gully, rockeries, picturesque shelters, the Temple of the Winds (a memorial to La Trobe) and the Ornamental Lake. His volcano has been restored as an important part of Melbourne Gardens’ water management program. Professor Timothy Entwisle has been the head of the Royal Botanic Gardens since 2013.

Pleasure Garden took place in the Water Conservation Garden in a balmy autumn, nestled in drought-resistant garden beds, among burnished grasses, looking down onto the Yarra and the city below.

Angus Kemp
Angus Kemp

The Charterhouse Gardens

The Charterhouse, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6AN, United Kingdom, 18-19 May 2019

Charterhouse’s story begins in 1348 during the Black Death, when the land was used as a burial ground for victims of plague. In 1371 a Carthusian monastery was built on the site, which flourished throughout the later medieval and early Tudor period.

With the dissolution of the monasteries, the Charterhouse became a mansion for wealthy noblemen and a refuge for royalty. Elizabeth I met the Privy Council here in the days before her coronation in 1558 and James I used the Great Chamber to create 130 new Barons before he was crowned. In 1611 Thomas Sutton bought the Charterhouse and established the foundation that now bears his name, providing in his will for up to 80 Brothers: ‘either decrepit or old captaynes either at sea or at land, maimed or disabled soldiers, merchants fallen on hard times, those ruined by shipwreck of other calamity’ as well as Charterhouse school. James I retained his connection with the Charterhouse, becoming the first Royal Governor of Thomas Sutton’s foundation. Since then, Wellington, Gladstone and Cromwell have all been Governors, the Charterhouse appears in the writings of Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray, and Thackeray, Robert Baden-Powell and John Wesley attended school at Charterhouse. Today the Charterhouse is home to a community of Brothers who benefit from the charity established by Sutton.

The Charterhouse gardens have been designed in an English country garden style featuring roses, herbaceous borders, ancient mulberry trees and a small pond. Garden herbs found here are still used in the kitchen today. The gardens are private and can only be visited on one of Charterhouse’s tours, as part of the National Garden Scheme, or on rare occasions like Barbican’s Sound Unbound weekend. The Head Gardener is Kate Robinson.

Genevieve Lacey

Felbrigg Hall

Felbrigg Hall, Felbrigg, Norwich NR11 8PR, United Kingdom, 11- 27 May 2019

An ancient woodland shelters Felbrigg from the north winds, with the elegant seventeenth-century house looking out onto pastures and the estate beyond. At the heart of this Norfolk idyll, the walled garden houses many rare plants, a working dovecote, herbaceous borders and spectacular espaliered fruit trees. A Ha Ha separates the park from the garden. The estate once belonged to William Wyndham, who coined the phrase that parks are ‘the lungs of London’. Humphry Repton, the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century, used Wyndham’s library when considering gardening as a career, and some of his early ideas on improving land were formed while looking out on the windswept plain of the estate. The Copper Plate Magazine (1793-98) remarked that ‘The great beauty of Felbrig Park consists in the extent and magnificence of its woods, chiefly of oak and beech of very large dimensions. To these are yearly adding new plantations, under the direction of Mr Kent, author of Hints to Gentlemen of Landed Property’. Today the Head Gardener is Tina Hammond.

Lisa Thomson
Genevieve Lacey

Salters’ Hall Garden

Salters' Hall Garden, 4 London Wall, Barbican, London EC2Y 5DE, United Kingdom, 24 May -14 June 2019

An oasis in the city mile, originally opened in 1981, this contemporary garden was redesigned as a knot garden by David Hicks and reopened in 1995 to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the Worshipful Company of Salters. This tranquil, secluded garden is sunk below road level and has the old Roman City Wall as its southern boundary. Formally laid out with areas of lawn, hedging, pergolas and fountains, peonies abound in late spring, and in summer, the garden is heady with roses.

Genevieve Lacey

Vaucluse House Gardens

Sydney, 2016

Vaucluse House is one of Sydney’s few nineteenth-century mansions still surrounded by its original gardens and wooded grounds. When the explorer, barrister and politician William Charles Wentworth bought the house in 1827, it was a single-storey cottage in a secluded valley of partly cleared coastal scrub. Over the next five decades, William and his wife Sarah developed Vaucluse into an expansive, picturesque estate. Along with parklands, orangeries, orchards, vineyards and greenhouses, there’s a pleasure garden, framed by large trees, and featuring plants still surviving from the nineteenth century. It’s a lush, extraordinarily peaceful oasis in a thriving city, with glimpses down to the water, and a strong sense of past and present co-existing.

Film by Mika Nishimura
Images by Mika Nishimura

Lambley Gardens

Ascot, Victoria, 2015

David Glenn’s Lambley nursery and garden is set around an old farmhouse in the hot, dry, windswept plains of the central Victorian Goldfields. Lambley’s dry garden abounds with frost-hardy plants requiring very little watering, and is world renowned as a benchmark in dry climate and sustainable gardening. The extensive organic vegetable garden features trial beds for vegetable and flower seeds, and joyous perennial borders. The gardens are generously open to the public throughout the year, free of charge, and Lambley is an inspiring example of an ingenious, profoundly artistic garden, referencing old traditions, but designed for a contemporary Australian climate.

Film by Sera Davies
Images by Genevieve Lacey & Elizabeth O’Donnell

Our thanks to collaborators around the world who have brought Pleasure Garden to life:

Jane Davidson and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, Australia Council for the Arts, Fiona Winning, Lieven Bertels and Sydney Festival, Ed Champion and staff at Vaucluse House, Sydney Living Museums, Criss Canning and David Glenn of Lambley Garden, Malgosia Fiebig, City Carillonneur of Utrecht, Toby Chadd and ABC Classics, Sheena Boughen and the Four Winds community, Music Norway, Lou Oppenheim and Circus Oz, Henk Heuvelmans and Martijn Buser of Gaudeamus, Graham Pushee and Arts Management, Martel Ollerenshaw, Atticus Bastow, Nick Roux, Ann Lacey, Francine Tanner, Jude Gun, Steven Richardson, Nicole Newman, Fiona Blair, Damon Young, Pat Hockey, Greg Lyons, Adam Gibson, Joseph Browning, Madeleine Flynn, Tim Humphrey, APAM, Kara Ward, Emer Harrington, Catherine Ashton, Mark Lowrey, Lillian Desormeaux, Adele Conlin and Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, William Strode, Daniel Brine, Mark Denbigh and the team at Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Paul Forecast, Alastair Bradshaw, Tina Hammond and all at Felbrigg Hall, Suzie Curtis, Kate Robinson, Huw Humphries, Paul Keene, Sarah Hickling, Miko Malkowski and all at The Charterhouse and The Barbican, Tim Bifield, Anna Casey, Rachel Smith, Rebecca Driver, Sheila Pott and all at Salters' Yard, Michael Schneider, Patrick Schellenberg and all at Boswil, Jane Marriott, Nicola Stephenson, Trevor Nicholson and the team at Harewood.