Posted by: marymarthatours | August 28, 2011

Our Next Garden Tour: Wales & the Lake District

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The gardens at St. Fagans Castle Museum

A while back we asked readers of our blog whether they would like our next garden tour to be in Ireland or Wales. Amazingly, the results were a tie, so we figured that we should offer both locations — Ireland in 2011 and Wales & the English Lake District in 2012 or 2013.

As we’re getting close to our September 2011 departure for Ireland, we’re starting to think ahead to a tour focusing on the gardens of Wales and the Lake District. The likely year for this tour is 2013, although we could go in 2012 if there is enough interest.

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Mary at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in 2000

There are many gardens in Wales that I would love to revisit. Aberglasney Garden has continued its return to grandeur since my first visit there in 2000. And the National Botanic Garden of Wales just keeps getting better and better. The shrubbery garden at Chirk Castle is quite dignified, while St. Fagans garden at the Museum of Welsh Life includes a charming mix of styles. And although it’s been many years since I first saw the beautiful gardens at Bodnant, I can still picture them in my mind.

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Bodnant Garden, 1990

Even though I’ve been to Wales a number of times, I’ve only made a start on my must-see list of Welsh gardens. The two gardens of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis are still high on the list: the garden at Plas Brondanw is classical and subdued, while the entire “village” of Portmeiron (film location for the original “The Prisoner”) is a frivolous and fanciful garden. And I must confess that I have not yet gotten to the terrace gardens at Powis Castle.

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The view from Dinefwr Castle, 2000

In addition to Welsh gardens, there are wonderful castles (like Caernarfon and my own Dinefwr) and marvelous scenery to take in. We might even have to schedule a dinner at one of the Welsh medieval banquets. Eating without utensils is a challenge, but the singing is well worth some sticky fingers.

Clearly, we’ll need to plan at least three nights in southern Wales (Carmarthenshire) and three in Gwynedd in the northwestern part of the country before heading north to the Lake District.

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Lake District bridge

The English Lake District offers another opportunity to see a wide variety of gardens. Levens Hall offers a late 17th century formal garden of shrubbery and topiary. Holker Hall includes formal gardens from the 18th/early 19th centuries as well as more modern additions. Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin, features a romantic 19th century woodland garden, as well as Ruskin’s house. On the more contemporary side, walkers might enjoy the Grizedale Forest Park with its Sculpture Trail containing a large collection of works that fit into the wooded landscape.

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 And, of course, the garden that everyone will want to visit is a modest cottage garden dating from the early 20th century — Beatrix Potter’s small garden at Hill Top Farm. No visit to the Lake District would be complete with a pilgrimage to Hill Top Farm and to Dove Cottage, the home of that lover of daffodils, William Wordsworth.

Designing this tour won’t be easy — too many gardens and too little time — but it will certainly be fun. Let us know if you’re interested in coming along.

 

Hill Top Farm (photo by Marion Dutcher)

 

(by Mary)

Photo credit:

Hill Top Farm: copyright by Marion Dutcher and licensed fro reuse under Creative Commons Attributions Share-Alike License 2.0.

All other photos by Mary Wallace

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