The art of landscape design is by its nature ephemeral. While we have both histories of architecture and the buildings which date back sometimes millennia to experience our connection to the past, the history of gardens usually relies upon descriptions, drawings and plans from earlier eras to describe what once was (or to recreate what once was). One exception is the extraordinary Levens Hall garden in northern England, which was designed in the 1690s.
Levens Hall garden has been continuously maintained since its first days, in the 1690s and many of its topiary are 300 years old. It has walls of beech and yew hedging, a potager garden, an orchard, a rose garden, a bowling green, a "wilderness," and other mysterious, less purposeful but extremely atmospheric rooms. Its original owner, before the garden was commenced, lost the property through gambling ("Colonel James Grahme acquired the property, and the old tradition that Levens was won with the turn of the Ace of Hearts probably has some foundation in fact" --the estate's website).
A sense of place abides here with centuries of footsteps, sharing the path with those strolling before by 10, 50, 90, 150, 300 years. At the same time, the architecture is mostly living, and when you realize that the current head gardener is only the 10th since the 1690s, that this living artwork has roots which connect you directly to the past. . . . It is not an ordinary feeling.
For more about this garden : http://www.levenshall.co.uk/levens-hall-gardens-historic-topiary-in-cumbria/garden-history.html