A classic restored

York Gate: The small but perfectly-formed garden cared for by the charity Perennial.
York Gate: The small but perfectly-formed garden cared for by the charity Perennial.
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York Gate garden, near Leeds, will re-launch this spring after a programme of restoration and development.

Over the past year, the idyllic one-acre garden, which is owned and run by the horticultural trade charity, Perennial, has been replanted and refreshed and an event to mark the official opening of the garden will take place on Wednesday, March 23, ahead of its opening to the public on Easter Sunday.

The North has many stunning gardens, from the stately to the intimate, but few, if any, can hold a candle to York Gate, one of the UK’s best small gardens.

It’s been called a mini-Hidcote, a masterpiece of geometry and planting created between 1951 and 1994 by one family. Frederick Spencer laid down the basic structure of the garden but it was his son, Robin, who was largely responsible for its development and its claim to fame.

In just that one acre, he made a garden which, by the early 1980s, was regarded by many as one of the most innovative small gardens in the world. His extraordinary vision, remarkable sense of perspective, inspirational use of materials and meticulous attention to detail were the key to its success.

Robin died suddenly at the age of only 47, and for the next 12 years his mother, Sybil, cherished the garden. She added to the already considerable plant collection but the overall layout remained largely unchanged.

Sybil Spencer died in 1994 and the garden passed into the care of the charity Perennial, who have continued to lavish the care and attention needed to maintain York Gate’s position in the horticultural world.

Of the recent changes, head gardener Adam Bowley said: “York Gate is an intimate and well-designed garden but we faced the challenge of refurbishing what is now a mature garden set within a modest space. We have tried to create some more modern planting combinations, while making sure that all work is in keeping with Robin Spencer’s original design and the Arts & Crafts style.”

York Gate garden can be found on Back Church Lane, Adel, Leeds LS16 8DW Tel: 0113 267 8240 or visit www.yorkgate.org.uk