On a visit to the UK, we’ve been lucky enough to explore a number of attractive gardens. Each brings its own unique charm. Stourhead, as the name suggests, is at the head of the river Stour, in Wiltshire. It’s one of my favourites. Designed in a classical 18th Century design, it surrounds a large lake. Each generation of a family make their unique contribution. A team of gardeners, generous acres of land, and the right designers, work miracles of ‘natural beauty,’ given time.
Mighty oaks stretch out mossy limbs to touch the lake. Elm, chestnuts, copper beech and tees of every green hue, dark and bright, are stippled with light. Admire the rhododendrons, in shades ranging through white to pale pink and red. Step down uneven rocky paths to the grotto and sparkle of a stream. In the half-light admire the statues – I was glad of Andrew’s arm to assist my return to the even-surfaced path.
Throw in a few temples, add a pantheon with statues and tall columns, a folly or two.
As they say each garden path is a metaphor for life itself. It meanders, sometimes allowing us to rest in the shade, others harsh with brassy sun. Old twisted trunks on ancient trees tell of troubles encountered, and survived. Sometimes there’s a hard climb to reach a peak, rewarded by a spectacular vista, showing how far we’ve come.
Fortunately, the pleasant 1 ½ mile walk around a lake affords plenty of seats, spots to take a breather and admire the view. Enjoy the picture of graceful swans, ducks, waterhen and other birds. Pink and white waterlilies drink in the warmth. A formal bridge contrasts with one in the humped-back Venetian style. A Gothic summer cottage would be a perfect spot to contemplate and write poetry.
A pub lunch back at the house completes a perfect visit.