Rock garden rarities and dazzling dahlias to entice at Newby Hall in 2021

  • Newby Hall & Gardens reopens to the public on 1 April 2021 with Covid safety measures1 in place
  • First phase of historic rock garden restoration now complete
  • Dahlia bed revamp with 21st century colour twist
  • Famous double herbaceous border in full bloom after lockdown
  • Harrogate Autumn Flower Show to be held at Newby Hall 17-19 September

When visitors return to one of the north’s most famous gardens in April, they will get the first rare-plant-filled glimpse of the major restoration of a historic Edwardian rock garden – thought to be one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

Newby Hall’s expansive rock garden2, boasting a waterfall, hidden nooks and even a miniature aquaduct, is undergoing a five-year refurbishment and the initial phase is now complete. Scores of new rare and unusual plants, many of which will be in full spring bloom when Newby Hall opens for the season, have replaced overgrown foliage in the iconic garden, and large architectural rocks unearthed.

Dating back to pre-WW1 and measuring over an acre, it was originally designed with the help of visionary Edwardian plantswoman Ellen Willmott. But a century later, many of its shrubs, plants and trees had outgrown the space, and specialist work by the garden team is restoring it to its former glory.

Also getting a 21st century revamp are the dazzling dahlia beds at Newby Hall with dozens of new varieties getting their first showing this year in an eye-popping, contemporary colour palette. Delicate fritillaries, oxslips and tulips have been planted under apple and quince trees in the Orchard Garden to give a full-on, late spring display, and Newby Hall’s famous 172 metre-long double herbaceous border is on track to give a real flower-powered punch all season long.

For the first time, the popular three-day Harrogate Autumn Flower Show will be held in the grounds of Newby Hall (17-19 September) and show goers will get free access to the gardens as part of their admission ticket. The event is famed for its giant vegetable competition, the Northern Championships for the National Vegetable Society and one of the best autumn bloom displays in the UK, so both flower lovers and grow-your-own aficionados alike will get their horticultural fix. The season at Newby Hall culminates with Apple Day and the Apple Throwing Championships on 3 October.

Other garden gems at Newby Hall include a national Cornus collection, a stunning autumn garden packed with late-flowering salvias, magnificent magnolias in the Tropical Garden and a traditional sweet-smelling rose garden.


For further information contact Emma Mason on 07762 117433 or Louise Scott on  01423 320412 Twitter – @newbyhall @newbyhallgarden Facebook – newbyhallandgardens Instagram – newbyhallandgardens


  • Newby Hall is a William and Mary house located between Ripon and Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, built in the 1690s until the guidance of Christopher Wren. John Carr remodelled the house in the 18th century, with interiors by Robert Adam and furniture by Chippendale. Owner Richard Compton is the 10th generation of his family to live at Newby.
  • The House and Gardens are open to the public from April to September, attracting around 140,000 visitors each season. The venue boasts a restaurant, miniature railway, gift shop and plant centre, day visitor events and weddings.
  • The gardening team has a head gardener, 6 full time gardeners and a handful of volunteers.  They care for the 25 acres of formal gardens, boasting 15 stunning ‘garden rooms’, and a further 15 acres of woodland and orchard, plus a national collection of Cornus.
  • Newby Hall is just a few miles from the A1(M), the main London to Edinburgh motorway. Close by are the magnificent Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors National Parks and the historic cities of York and Ripon.

1: Covid safety measures – Visitors advised to check website for opening details as Government guidelines will need to be followed. Online ticket booking only to manage the number of visitors each day, with a limit on numbers arriving in three different arrival periods.  Safety information is given to visitors at the start of their visit to ensure social distancing and staff at the visitor entrance are protected by plastic screens, as are the team at the onsite café providing take-away refreshments.  Additional toilets have been opened in the gardens and a rigorous hygiene regime implemented for all outdoor areas.

2: Rock garden – Working closely with specialists Kevock Garden Plants & Design, Newby Hall’s head gardener Phil Cormie and owners Richard and Lucinda Compton, aim to transform the space to ensure it is conserved for generations of visitors to come. Unusual plants already in place include:

  • Rhododendron primuliflorum‘Doker-La’ – an unusual dwarf rhododendron with pink, daphne-like flowers.
  • Meconopsis x cookei‘Old Rose’ – beautiful poppy with erect stems of pendulous, dusky pink flowers in spring
  • Iris kerneriana –a  lovely narrow, tidy leaved iris with delicate 40 cm long stems bearing sulphur- yellow and cream flowers.
  • Antirrhinum molle– most people think of snapdragons as being annuals but this one is small shrub with velvety grey leaves and large white or pink flowers.
  • Saxifraga ‘Nicholas’ -absolutely outstanding silver saxifrage with huge, tumbling sprays of white flowers.
  • Sorbus reducta– a dwarf rowan only growing up to 1.5 metres tall with berries that start red and turn pink as the autumn season progresses.
  • Pseudocodon convolvulaceus subsp. Forrestii –an unusual climber which gently twines through shrubs and small trees. Beautiful bell-shaped, pale blue flowers mark these plants out as a Campanula relative.
  • Gentiana acaulis – a spectacular rock garden plant, the Stemless Gentian throws out deep blue, trumpet shaped flowers with a spotted green throat.
  • Rhododendron campylogynum Myrtilloides Group – a charming dwarf species of rhododendron with beautiful thimble-shaped, nodding, plum-purple flowers.
  • Meconopsis ‘Huntfield’ – a beautiful variety of the Blue Poppy with a hint of purple shading the blue flowers.

The second phase of the heritage garden project is now underway with plans for an alpine lawn, New Zealand corner and revamped cascade.