The ancient orchard at Levens Hall has a relaxed and romantic feel when compared to the tightly gardened areas nearby. Fuller plantings of flower and foliage spill out over the narrow grassy pathways, emphasising the more laid back atmosphere.
Many of the fruit trees here are very old, and are valued mostly for the beauty of their copious pink blossom in the spring, than for the quantity and quality of their autumn harvest. Despite that, over four tons of fruit are picked for delicious home-made apple pies and Levens’ own cider.
Apple trees will not readily grow where apple trees have grown before, so a number of interesting ornamentals have found their way into the pattern. Some apples here have also been replaced by their more primitive predecessor the Medlar. There are a number of different varieties, all of which make lovely small trees with large flowers in spring, followed in time by unusual small hard fruits. Although inedible at first, they are used to make a delicious jelly when eventually ‘bletted’ or partially rotted! There are also quinces, pears and damsons to be found.
In Spring, squares beneath the trees are brightened by the vivid red Tulip ‘Apeldoorn’. Later in the season the chequering of wild flowers, long and short grass adds interest to the area.
The borders in the orchard are punctuated by annually pollarded specimens of the Silver Willow Salix alba 'Sericea', and have been planted with an extensive range of shrubs and herbaceous plants to a colour conscious design. The central circle contains neutral whites, while the radiating arms contain rippling gradations of strong and pastel shades through one axis with contrasting and harmonising colours across the other.