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Cheeseburn opens gates; gardens of the North East Susie White continues her tour of some of the region's best gardens.

Byline: Susie White

THERE is a chance tomorrow to see a little-known garden that is open for the first time in aid of the National Gardens Scheme charity.

Just eight miles from Newcastle, Cheeseburn Grange, near Stamfordham, Northumberland, is a charming early 19th Century house, designed by John Dobson, that has its own chapel and seven acres of delightful gardens.

When the present owners, Joanna and Simon Riddell, came here in 1992 they found a house in need of so much attention, that the sad, neglected garden simply had to wait its turn.

For Simon it was a huge legacy about which he was passionate, wanting to restore both house and garden bit by bit as funds allowed.

Apart from a vegetable garden some distance away, the house was surrounded by such a wilderness that all the grass around it was cut for hay.

It's hard to believe that this is the state it was in just 16 years ago.

Now, the house is clad in wisteria on its south side and sits serenely in well cut lawns that are bounded by a retaining wall. This shelters a very long border of the roses, Felicity, Penelope and Cornelia and their fragrance is superb. All around are plantings of young trees that will one day be as tall as the graceful trees in the surrounding parkland.

It's surprising what can be grown here; the borders have some rather tender plants that have overwintered happily, such as Convolvulus cneorum, cistus, osteospermum and French lavender. The flowerbeds near the house are packed with a mixture of shrubs, perennials and annuals with climbers such as Vitis coignetiae enjoying the warmth of a massive old brick wall. The soft colour of the handmade bricks is the perfect backdrop for euphorbia, delphinium, geranium, echinops, foxgloves and old-fashioned roses.

An arch through the wall gives a glimpse of a secluded garden that has only recently been made. There is a newly-planted parterre of box and lavender, which takes as its centrepiece the original doorway to the house that was moved here by John Dobson.

The formal beds are filled in with scented pinks, heartsease pansies, nodding Allium cernuum and fragrant stocks in terracotta pots. The plants become less formal to either side with swaying grasses, lupins, foxgloves and lush hostas under a beautiful specimen of Cornus kuosa.

Hidden on the other side of a tall wall is a secret garden that was always known as the Scented Garden perhaps because of the large cedar that grows there. A wide flower border looks on to a grassy space where a little stone shelter on slender pillars stands over the entrance to a cundy that the Riddells think one day might be opened up to create a stream.

Through woodland you finally reach the old vegetable garden, now much reduced in size by the creation of two paddocks but still giving ample produce for a family's needs.

The Roman Catholic chapel will be open as well as the gardens and a woodland walk with many varieties of birds.

Cheeseburn Grange garden is open for the National Gardens Scheme tomorrow from 2-5.30pm. Admission pounds 3, children free. Home made teas.

Susie White runs Chesters Walled Garden, near Hexham, is a member of the Garden Media Guild and writes a blog Her book Gardens of Northumberland and the Borders is a guide to the gardens of our area.


Charming garden: Cheeseburn Grange, above, and the walled garden.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 12, 2008
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