Shuttleworth Swiss Garden

The Swiss Garden was created by Lord Ongley in the 1820s in the ‘Swiss Picturesque’ style, and boasts 13 listed buildings and artefacts within its 9-acre grounds.  Embellished with Victorian features during the 1870s by Joseph Shuttleworth, the garden and its buildings sit within the wider landscape of Old Warden Park, an early 19th century Grade II listed parkland.  The garden is a rare example of a late Regency landscape, as many of the delicate structures in other gardens dating from this period have not survived.  The Swiss Garden has recently been extensively restored thanks to a £2.8 million Heritage Lottery grant, and as a result was taken off the Heritage at Risk register in 2014.

Planting in the various beds and shrubberies around the Swiss Garden reflects both its Regency landscape and the later Victorian layer, which included more of a focus on the fashion for ferns and ornamental planting such as rhododendrons and other flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants.  The Shuttleworth family injected an air of drama to the garden by introducing a range of artificial rockwork features created by the Pulham family during the late 1800s, which include the Rock Garden, Pond Cascade and the Grotto & Fernery.  A raised terrace was introduced, which offers fantastic views of Lord Ongley’s evergreen backdrop and the focal point in the garden, the Swiss Cottage on its artificial mound.  Created out of a muddy, flat clay brickfield, the Swiss Garden’s undulations are all man-made, and Lord Ongley’s vision of a scene from the foothills of the Swiss Alps is realised, in miniature form, in this charming landscape, causing a visitor in 1839 to reflect that “…we saw the most extraordinary garden in the world…in short quite a fairyland.”

Scented shrubs and snowdrops provide interest in winter, while Spring brings forth a host of yellow daffodils covering many of the Swiss Garden’s banks, along with blossom and an interesting range of alpine plants in the Rock Garden.  Rhododendrons provide rich colour in May and June, followed by herbaceous beds and the ever-changing display of bedding plants in the Dolphin Tazza bed – Spring and Summer bedding schemes are introduced each year, offering something a little different for the regular visitor.  In Autumn, interesting leaf colour and changing views are on offer as the deciduous trees lose their leaves and open up views across the garden.

The Swiss Garden offers full access for all around the garden’s perimeter and plenty of seating throughout, along with a woodland walk and sculpture trail.  Talks and tours are available all year round, and both our garden team and three resident peacocks offer a warm welcome to all