Prestigious award for Lowther Castle Gardens

Lowther Castle has been named runner-up in this year’s European Garden Award in the Management or Development of a Historic Park or Garden category.

Jim Lowther received the award at the Schloss Dyck near Juchen in Germany and spoke of his pride and pleasure at being awarded the prize. (pictured banner above)

Competition was stiff in this category with the first prize going to the park and gardens of Rundale Palace in Latvia, otherwise known as ‘Versailles of the Baltic States’. Joint runner-up were the sensational gardens of Marqueyssac in the Dordogne.

The European Garden Award has been in existence since 2010 with a total of 102 prize winners from 16 countries having been garlanded to date. Jim Lowther spoke of his amazing experience travelling to Schloss Dyck and to meet the owners of other splendid venues: “Of course, this prize is a huge tribute to the gardening team at Lowther, led by Martin Ogle and Nathalie Gargett and steered to greatness by Dan Pearson and his wonderful studio of designers. It’s heartening to see how the gardens of Europe are flourishing.”

Thanking the judges and team at the European Garden Heritage Network for their hospitality and warmth during his visit, Jim stressed that Lowther would continue to invest in the gardens and were looking forward to unveiling more layers of design in the coming months.

(above: The garden team,with Dan Pearson seated centre)

Jim commented to Reckless Gardener: “After 10 years transforming Lowther Castle from an abandoned symbol of a bygone era to a beacon of horticultural creativity, it’s fantastic to be standing among the great gardens of Europe.”

Lowther Castle has enjoyed a rich and varied history since it was completed in 1812 after being commissioned by William the 1st Earl of Lonsdale. The great and famous visited over its 130 year lifetime until sadly the castle had to be abandoned. The ‘Yellow Earl’, the 5th Earl of Lonsdale entertained the great and good at the castle during his lifetime, including the German Kaiser, all of which came at the cost of his vast fortune and eventually the castle became a luxury too far.

At one point the castle was used by an army tank regiment and finally in the 1950s it was decided to remove the castle roof and leave the castle as an empty shell.

Today, following a period of renewal and rediscovery, the castle itself is a garden and the extensive landscapes surrounding it are being carefully brought back to life and have become a top visitor attraction. Back in 2008, when Lowther’s gardens were marked out for rescue, under the guidance of award-winning garden designer Dan Pearson, a 20-year masterplan was put in place.The fruits of that masterplan are clearly evident today and it is a joy and pleasure to visit and see the progress.

Congratulations to all the team – a richly deserved award.

Photo captions: Banner: Jim Lowther receiving his award credit Hans-Peter Reichartz; view of castle ©Reckless Gardener credit EmmaCampbellPhotography.