Doddington Place Gardens

Near Sittingbourne, Kent.

Doddington Place Gardens - Rock Garden

Rock Garden

The rock garden retains its original Edwardian framework but was totally renovated in 2007/8.

The rock garden was one of the major innovations of Mrs. Jeffreys, the first member of the Oldfield family to occupy Doddington Place. It was constructed before the First World War using Kentish rag stone from a quarry near Maidstone. A series of descending pools culminate in a large pool that was restored in 2003.

Rock gardens were fashionable in Edwardian times and have been unfashionable ever since – perhaps partly because of their labour-intensiveness both in creation, with many tons of Maidstone rag stone hauled in and positioned, and in maintenance.

Nearly a hundred years on many of the original trees and plants had become too large. The fall of a hugely dominant Atlantic glauca cedar tree in the 1987 storm had the initial effect of providing much more light, which resulted in tremendous growth, and many shrubs and trees, such as the cypresses which from the original planting of the garden, became far too big.

During the winter of 2005/6 a programme of clearance was instigated. The project involved removal of some of the trees and shrubs and temporary clearing of many of the plants to provide more or less a blank sheet for replanting and for greater emphasis on the shapes of the rocks. Many of the original rocks were revealed and it is once again possible to imagine what it must have looked like in its early years. (see picture on

The framework is that of the old rock garden. But the overall effect is now much more dramatic as several tons of additional stone have been incorporated as well as stone from a rock garden in Ireland. During the course of the renovation some 500 hundred tons of rocks have been moved. The series of descending pools has been restored and in addition there is a new viewing area over the largest pool. One side of the large pool has been built up to resemble a quarry face with water trickling down it.

The planting is a mixture of traditional rock garden plants, grasses, shrubs and trees. There is a small section devoted to alpines. Planting is continually evolving to create a new and varied experience each time you visit.