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Diana Barbour restores rhododendron garden at Bolesworth Castle

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Diana Barbour restores rhododendron garden at Bolesworth Castle

A widow has fulfilled her late husband’s dream of restoring a rhododendron garden behind his 19th century castle – 15 years after his death.

Passionate gardener Anthony Barbour had devoted years nurturing the gardens, planting a range of flora, including magnolias, maples and prunus.

He had begun clearing the 200-year-old paths leading to a sandstone outcrop and rock garden at the rear of Bolesworth Castle, Tattenhall, Cheshire, when he fell ill.

Anthony died from pancreatic cancer in 2007 – just five weeks after diagnosis – without realising his goal.

Wife Diana Barbour and head gardener, Andrew Frostick, have worked tirelessly over the last four years to complete Anthony’s vision. And to celebrate, a rhododendron expert has named a new species in Anthony’s honour – A G Barbour.

Diana Barbour and head gardener, Andrew Frostick, have worked tirelessly over the last four years to fulfill her late husband Anthony Barbour’s dream of restoring a rhododendron garden behind his 19th century castle – 15 years after his death

Anthony had begun clearing the 200-year-old paths leading to a sandstone outcrop and rock garden at the rear of Bolesworth Castle, Tattenhall, Cheshire, when he fell ill. He died from pancreatic cancer in 2007 – just five weeks after diagnosis – without realising his goal

Diana and Dixie enjoying the spring sunshine on a bench in the garden, with Diana holding one of the blooms from the garden

Anthony had begun clearing the 200-year-old paths leading to a sandstone outcrop and rock garden at the rear of Bolesworth Castle, Tattenhall, Cheshire, when he fell ill. He died from pancreatic cancer in 2007 – just five weeks after diagnosis – without realising his goal

Diana, said: ‘Anthony loved it up there but when he died, the garden was very much in its infancy.

‘I took over the estate when Anthony died and rather neglected the garden.

‘The ponticum rhododendron is very invasive and had smothered everything else.

‘When we cut away the ponticum to restore the paths, we found all sorts of different flowers and plants that Anthony had planted.

Diana with her dog Dixie. She said she wanted to continue her late husband's vision for the castle's garden

Diana with her dog Dixie. She said she wanted to continue her late husband’s vision for the castle’s garden

The lady of the castle showing the pretty blooms. After ridding the garden of an invasive variety of rhododendrons, Diana saw an opportunity to finish what Anthony started

The lady of the castle showing the pretty blooms. After ridding the garden of an invasive variety of rhododendrons, Diana saw an opportunity to finish what Anthony started 

‘We wanted to continue his vision and in recent years the invasive rhododendrons have been removed.

‘When we first got rid of the ponticum in the centre of the garden, my first feelings of guilt because I had allowed it to strangle so many plants.

‘My second reaction I had was that this was a huge opportunity to complement his planting.’

The garden is now filled with many different species of rhododendrons.

Diana on the steps of Bolesworth Castle, Tattenhall. She recalled how her husband would walk around the garden taking notes

Diana on the steps of Bolesworth Castle, Tattenhall. She recalled how her husband would walk around the garden taking notes 

The beautiful garden was restored, with blooms blossoming left and right. The castle and its land has been under the careful stewardship of The Barbour family since 1856

The beautiful garden was restored, with blooms blossoming left and right. The castle and its land has been under the careful stewardship of The Barbour family since 1856

The back of the house leading to the perfectly manicured garden, which was modelled after Anthony's vision

The back of the house leading to the perfectly manicured garden, which was modelled after Anthony’s vision 

The grandma of three added: ‘Anthony would spend his time wandering around with his notebook thinking what he would plant and where.

‘I think his happiest times were up here.’

Diana has also found comfort in restoring the gardens.

She said: ‘When your husband dies, you want to be busy all the time, to fill every hour but by coming up here has trained me to be a little bit more independent and be by myself because I spent a lot of time up here alone.’

The castle owner worked tirelessly with her head gardener for five years to make her late husband's vision come true

The castle owner worked tirelessly with her head gardener for five years to make her late husband’s vision come true 

Colourful pink, orange and purple blooms can be found all over the castle's plentiful 6,000 acres land

Colourful pink, orange and purple blooms can be found all over the castle’s plentiful 6,000 acres land 

Diana plucking flowers in an open cave found on the castle grounds which provides shade and peace in the summer

Diana plucking flowers in an open cave found on the castle grounds which provides shade and peace in the summer 

Last year, rhododendron expert Colin Mugridge contacted Diana regarding a rhododendron he had grown.

She said: ‘Colin had an unnamed rhododendron in his garden and he kindly offered it to us and it will now be called A G Barbour.

‘I just knew it would be one that Anthony would really enjoy

A rhododendron expert has named a new species in Anthony’s honour – A G Barbour, in honour of Diana's accomplishment

A rhododendron expert has named a new species in Anthony’s honour – A G Barbour, in honour of Diana’s accomplishment 

The chatelain smiles as she looks after the plants she and her team have carefully planted in the past five years

The chatelain smiles as she looks after the plants she and her team have carefully planted in the past five years 

A bench atop a hill provides a lovely view of the garden and a peaceful reading spot for visitors

A bench atop a hill provides a lovely view of the garden and a peaceful reading spot for visitors

Diana is already making the most of the castle's garden, with Dixie in tow. The castle owner devoted her time to fulfilling her husband's wish

 Diana is already making the most of the castle’s garden, with Dixie in tow. The castle owner devoted her time to fulfilling her husband’s wish

‘It is exactly what he would have wanted, and it is a wonderful legacy.

Diana now regularly sits on a bench and reflects while looking across the views of the 6,500-acre estate.

She said: ‘I’m happy with what we have achieved, and I think Anthony would be too.’

The castle and its land has been under the careful stewardship of The Barbour family since 1856. 

Groups can visit the garden in spring next year through the National Garden Scheme.

Diana and Dixie in the garden. Groups can visit the garden in spring next year through the National Garden Scheme

Diana and Dixie in the garden. Groups can visit the garden in spring next year through the National Garden Scheme

Diana said: 'When your husband dies, you want to be busy all the time, to fill every hour but by coming up here has trained me to be a little bit more independent and be by myself because I spent a lot of time up here alone.' Pictured: the garden

Diana said: ‘When your husband dies, you want to be busy all the time, to fill every hour but by coming up here has trained me to be a little bit more independent and be by myself because I spent a lot of time up here alone.’ Pictured: the garden

Diana standing in front of blossoming bushes before a panoramic view of the land and the castle.

Diana standing in front of blossoming bushes before a panoramic view of the land and the castle. 

A look at the perfectly manicured lawn and landscaped bushes surrounding the Grade II listed property

A look at the perfectly manicured lawn and landscaped bushes surrounding the Grade II listed property 

Anthony just got started on the garden at the back of the house when she died suddenly in 2007

Anthony just got started on the garden at the back of the house when she died suddenly in 2007

Diana with Dixie in the cave. She is holding a rhododendron which a local nursery has named after her husband

Diana with Dixie in the cave. She is holding a rhododendron which a local nursery has named after her husband

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