By Andy Hirst

A garden hewn from a Huddersfield hillside at one of the highest spots in West Yorkshire will be open to the public on Sunday (May 15).

The garden at Scapegoat Hill was featured on BBC2 Gardeners’ World late last year but now people can see it for themselves.

Just 20 years ago this spectacular hillside garden was just rough grass and heather moorland at the top of an old stone quarry.

Now it’s owned by Elizabeth and David Smith who spend countless hours every year to transform it into a show garden that people pay to visit to raise money for charity via the National Garden Scheme.

The garden is at Scape Lodge, 11 Grandstand, Scapegoat Hill and visitors are urged to park in the car park at the nearby Scapegoat Hill Baptist Church on School Road (sat nav is HD7 4NU) which is just a couple minutes’ walk away.

The garden is open from 1.30pm to 4.30pm on Sunday (May 15). Entrance is £5 for adults with children free. A cup of coffee or tea and a slice of cake is just £3. Plants will also be on sale.

All proceeds go to charities supported by the National Garden Scheme which raises around £3m a year nationally shared between several charities including the Carers Trust, Marie Curie, Macmillan Cancer Support, Parkinson’s UK and countless hospices.

Elizabeth and David Smith

Elizabeth and David will also be giving some to the Mayor of Kirklees’ charity which is Holme Valley Mountain Rescue.

The garden is built on a steep slope that’s more than 1,000ft above sea level – and as you look east it’s reputedly the highest spot between Huddersfield and the Ural Mountains 2,250 miles away in central Russia.

The couple moved in 10 years ago, eight years after the previous owners had started work on the garden which is around a third of an acre. Elizabeth and David have taken it to another level – well, several levels actually – as it’s a terraced garden that’s cleverly built into the hillside.

The garden has gravel paths with steps leading to a terraced kitchen and cutting garden. It has a shed, a greenhouse, a gazebo and two small ponds, one featuring fish and the other full of frogs and toad tadpoles.

David said: “We enjoy opening up our garden for the National Garden Scheme as we want to share our interest and knowledge with other gardeners. It’s also great to see so many people enjoying it.”

The soil ranges from dry and sandy to heavy clay and some parts get very wet from water running down the hill.

Elizabeth is the garden designer and planner who nurtures the seeds and cuttings and looks for colour and foliage combinations. She’s also built box beds and terracing to cope with the steep slope.

David, former director of resources at Kirklees Council, concentrates on the vegetable garden and maintaining the grass slope. In the summer both can be hard at work all day in the garden.

The couple have no idea how many plants are in the garden but David once did an inventory of all the terracotta pots and totted up 800.

Elizabeth said: “I like the garden to look natural rather than disciplined and we want it to sit comfortably in the landscape with a slightly wild feel to match the climate.

“Gardeners’ World described it as ‘immersive’ and while many gardens have small plants at the front with taller ones at the back, we let ours seed into the gravel on the paths so you can get tall plants anywhere. I love walking between plants that are taller than me and being completely surrounded by them. I get upset if I see plants bundled up and restricted.”

David said: “Our planting is sometimes influenced by the gardens and landscapes we’ve seen on our travels. The use of Bearded Iris in part of the mixed planting on the slopes is inspired by landscapes in Croatia and Greece.”

Despite the tough Pennine climate high up on a hill, the couple are surprised at how hardy some geraniums have proved to be, especially the Geranium Palmatum, which originate in the Madeira and the Canary Islands, and agapanthus. The pelargoniums are all grown from cuttings and kept in a warmed greenhouse over winter and the sweet peas are grown from seed.

When it comes to the kitchen garden the couple grow all kinds of vegetables including brussel sprouts, broccoli, potatoes, runner beans, French beans, pumpkins, courgettes and salad.

Most of the borders are full of perennials and the couple say the best garden centre they’ve found locally for these is Dove Cottage Nursery at Shibden in Halifax.

Elizabeth and David are both voluntary assistant county organisers for the National Garden Scheme in South and West Yorkshire.

The garden will also be open to the public again on Sunday, June 26, from 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

It was featured on BBC2 Gardeners’ World Winter Special 2021/2022 Episode 2 available on iPlayer. The Scape garden is featured 32 minutes into the programme.

* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR ( specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting.