The Driveway and Maze
The driveway and maze are the first parts of York Gate Garden seen by visitors. As Robin wrote in one of his diaries, published in the Hortus articles:
“You have the choice of four roads by which to approach York Gate, but if you should come on a visit, the best is by way of Stairfoot Lane, a narrow leafy road, which dips steeply down to the small stone bridge over Adel Beck, where you will catch your first view of one of our meadows, up the short, steep hill on the other side of the little valley and sharp right, you will see the garden spread out in front of you.”
In the article, Robin describes the layout and original planting of the drive:
“An oak farm gate gives on to the gravel turnabout area, with the garage block at right angles. On the gable wall of the garage facing you, is an espaliered Conference Pear, the most traditional tree for this position and unbeatable.”
In 1972 Sybil says “The main paths at York Gate are of gravel. A largish grade for the turnabout in front of the garage" and she goes on to say "Note the paving stones sunk in the ground at the entrance gate, they give a stepping stone effect across the gravel and are useful with ladies high heels.”
Over the years various different plants were to be seen growing against the garage wall. In 1965 Sybil says "On the end of the garage is a rather successful planting, Alan [Allen] Chandler which is crimson and clematis Mrs Cholmondel[e]y which is a mauve. They both perform together and look very lovely against the stone wall."
Robin talks about changing the shape of the narrow bed at the base of the garage wall to a “Serpentine curve”, which he much preferred. In this bed, among other things were planted Garrya Eliptica and a Robinia pseudoacacia Frisia. In the corner was to be found a “large lead tank bearing the date 1753 and the owners’ initials, purchased from Hazelwood Castle in 1972.”
In 1967 Sybil describes how "whilst walking to the garage to open the door, the gravel turnabout collapsed under me and I fell down a hole about two feet deep. I lost a shoe, Robin had to pull me out, when in daylight we investigated we found a thin crust stretching for several yards it could have been very much worse. So we had to dig and investigate the source of the trouble. We dug down about ten feet...... You will have some idea of the scale of the operations when I tell you I paid ninety hours labour to put it right."