Back in 1635 much of this area near Windermere was owned as lakeland farming property by Thomas Hird. The gardens at Holehird were laid out on a hillside from 1865 around what was the Gothic style mansion and home of wealthy Manchester industrialist John Macmillan Dunlop. From 1897, the Groves family added water-features and built orchid houses.
Today the mansion is leased to the Leonard Cheshire Foundation by its owners Cumbria County Council. Since 1969 the gardens around the mansion have progressively been beautifully restored and flourish under the management of the entirely voluntary Lakeland Horticultural Society.
These beautiful 10 acres of gardens in dramatic mountainous surroundings contain a wealth of interesting plants. The quality and range of planting is exceptional. There is always some horticultural drama taking place, whatever time of year one pays a visit. Every part of the garden is the personal responsibility of a volunteer. You are sure to find a well informed one not far away and ready to assist with plant recognition.
Outstanding plants found growing in this moist environment with mild winters include National Collections of astilbe, polystichum and hydrangea. Interesting mature trees and plantings of original introductions of Clematis macropetala, Malus transitoria and local plant hunter William Purdom’s rhododendron purdomii from China shelter more recent rare and unusual introductions by enthusiastic members of the Society.