As home to the World’s Original Marmalade Awards, Dalemain, near Penrith in Cumbria, is already a national treasure, but now the splendid fellside mansion can add the prestigious accolade of 2013 Garden of the Year, as sponsored by Christie’s and the Historic Houses Association (HHA).

‘Jane Hasell-McCosh [Dalemain’s owner] is a hands-on gardener who has followed in the steps of her mother-in-law, Sylvia McCosh, in adapting the gardens and introducing new areas of planting and many rare and unusual herbaceous species,’ says HHA president Richard Compton. ‘Supported by a small but expert team, some volunteers, Jane has made the garden accessible to a wide range of visitors, especially children.’

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Dalemain, which means ‘manor in the valley’, has been in the Hasell family since 1679. The original house is medieval-two Tudor wings and a Georgian front were added-and the gardens provided healing and culinary herbs for the household. Its 85ft-tall, 19ft-wide Abies Cephalo-nica (a Greek fir) is the oldest and largest specimen in the UK-it was given to Dorothea Hasell in the 1840s by plant hunter Joseph Banks. Features include the Low Garden-best in summer when the Himalayan poppies are in bloom-some 30 species of ancient fruit tree and the ‘Stumpery’.

‘It’s a wonderful garden to work in, with a strong sense of place, tranquil and full of history,’ says head gardener Rose Harper. ‘The period of interest has grown so it’s beautiful from snowdrops and aconites right through the summer until the frosts.’ Dalemain is now open for the season (01768 486450; www.dalemain.com).

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