The Gardens of Fanhams Hall, Ware
Photo gallery of the Formal and Japanese gardens
By Fiona MacDonald
Fanhams Hall is a listed Jacobean building dating back to 1412. In 1715 a Queen Anne-style house was built to replace the original farmhouse. It is now a luxury hotel on the North side of Ware.
There are two distinctly different styles in the gardens: the formal Queen Anne gardens near the house, with their topiary, wrought iron gates, red brick walls and stone paths, a rectangular lily pond with a fountain, and herbaceous borders, and then the spiritual Japanese garden with its stunning Wisteria Walk, meandering lakes, colourful bridges, rare trees and shrubs – and even a mini-mountain!
The Japanese Gardens were designed by a Mr Inaka and laid out by Professor Suzuki in the early 1900s. In the pre-war days Japanese gardeners came over from Japan every Summer to carry out the work on the ornamental lakes and to plant all the trees, including Japanese maples and a group of three Catalpa (or Bean) trees.
The Fox Lake takes its name from being shaped like a fox and the second lake, in front of the Austrian house, and currently home to huge carp and a family of ducks, is called the Austrian Lake. There are several bridges over the lakes – the bright red one is the Shinkyo or Spirit Bridge. With the earth excavated from the two lakes they made a large mound known as ‘Fuji-yama mound’.
The Japanese garden is called Koraku-en which means ‘joy after’ and the circular path around it, which starts at the wooden-framed Wisteria Walk, is a pilgrimage. The lakes, mountains, waterfalls, bridges, trees and stones all have great significance to the garden. The Japanese Tea House is genuine and was purchased from Japan along with the granite lanterns which are all over the garden.
For one day every year the gardens are opened to the public in aid of the British Red Cross. The head gardener gives guided tours explaining all the features and the many conservation projects they are working on – for wild-life as well as the plants and trees.
The photos below were taken on the open day on 15th May 2011 when the wisteria was in full bloom. Click on the thumbnails to enter the gallery and browse through the photographs.