Fellowship 2: Mount Stewart Gardens and Lady Londonderry’s planting scheme
This 8-week fellowship will focus on the planting history at Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland, one of Europe’s most important and influential gardens. Famed around the world for their grandeur and bold planting, the garden’s uniqueness is a legacy of their creator, Edith, Lady Londonderry. This fellow will research Lady Edith’s Garden Books and Diaries to investigate and document the historical planting scheme.
When Edith, Lady Londonderry moved to Mount Stewart permanently with her husband Viscount Castlereagh, the 7th Marquess of Londonderry, after the First World War, she immediately set about transforming the gardens.Previously, the gardens had been plain lawns with large decorative pots. Lady Londonderry added the Shamrock Garden, the Sunken Garden, increased the size of the lake, added a Spanish Garden, the Italian Garden, the Dodo Terrace, and the Menagerie among other areas. The mild climate of Strangford Lough allowed for an astonishing level of planting experimentation and the result was an exceptional expression of Lady Edith’s love of bold colors and garden design talent. The formal areas of the garden exude a strong Mediterranean feel and resemble an Italian villa landscape; the wooded areas support a range of plants from all corners of the world, ensuring something to see whatever the season.
The goal of the fellowship project is to research Lady Edith’s garden diaries from 1930 until 1957-when she gave the gardens to the National Trust-noting the historical planting scheme and which plants were associated with each area. The resulting report will inform the current renovations to the gardens. The fellow will also investigate how Lady Edith rationalized the design of the garden in the face of diminishing labor and post-war austerity at Mount Stewart.
- Research Lady Londonderry’s Garden Books and Diaries from 1930 to 1956 and investigate family photographs and early films of the garden
- Develop a report for each year recording which plants were associated with each garden area at Mount Stewart. This report will follow the report format from the diary research already completed (from 1924 to 1930)
- Write a report focusing on Lady Londonderry’s garden management during and post World War II, considering factors such as diminishing labor, rising costs, unavailability of materials etc.
- Present the findings to NT management and conservation team
- Work on ongoing NT projects including identifying unidentified plants in our collection.
- Send a detailed written report about the project and fellowship experience to the Royal Oak Foundation no later than mid-September
Final report by Stephanie Bryan