Tuesday 26 April 2016

Two English gardens that changed how we look at nature

Where the formal meets the romantic
Andy Carling
The Formal Garden at Rydal Hall
The British are known for their love of gardening and there will be a unique opportunity to learn more about how gardens have been part of English culture as well as home life. Two great English country gardens are opening for a special joint tour this Summer in the most beautiful part of the land, the English Lake District.
Rydal Hall and Rydal Mount are in a picture perfect setting, backed by the dramatic Fairfield Horseshoe, one of Lakeland’s most scenic walks and in woodland pasture, where sheep graze among ancient trees.
Rydal Hall, one of the most magnificent buildings in the Lakes now used as a conference and retreat centre for the diocese of Carlisle, the formal Edwardian gardens were designed by landscape architect and town planner Thomas Hayton Mawson in 1911. The Italianate terracing includes herbaceous borders and lawns set against the imposing architecture of the Hall.
Wordsworth's Garden at Rydal Mount
Mawson was concerned with beauty and harmonising the home and garden. In addition to writing key references of garden design he was also a visionary town planner. He is also known for designing the Peace Gardens at The Hague, the home of international justice.

Nearby Rydal Mount was the home of the poet William Wordsworth who began the work of landscaping the grounds in the natural way advocated by the Romantic movement. His designs and plans are used by the gardeners there today, to recreate what the poet intended. The poet was a keen landscape gardener and designed the garden which contains fell-side terraces, including Dora's Terrace (named after his sister), rock pools and the poet’s outdoor  ‘Writing Hut’ where he composed works that still shape Britain and Europe’s culture.
Wordsworth was also a visit to Rydal Mount and it’s famed ‘Grot’ a small stone building by a waterfall pool, built in 1669 as a ‘viewing station’ for visitors to see a particular scene as an example of nature at its most sublime. The little building featured in one of his poems and has also enticed other writers and painters to Rydal.
The monthly tours are led by Rydal Hall’s Head Gardener, Kate Jackson and Rydal Mount’s Curator, Peter Elkington. The tour is their joint initiative.
“There is probably nowhere else in the country where you can see two different approaches to garden design than here at Rydal,” says Peter Elkington, “this is a unique opportunity.”
“We are great admirers of each other’s gardens and it seemed obvious that a joint tour could provide something really special for garden lovers. We’re really excited about the tour,” says Kate Jackson.
Visitors will be guided around gardens central to the work of the Romantic poets and the bringing together of architecture and outdoor spaces. The two neighbours are showing how gardens reflected their owner’s belief in the connection between people and nature; gardens and home.
Both gardens have been beautifully cared for and kept as a historical record of two very different styles of garden design and this first combined tour will enable visitors to look at both gardens as companions and, of course, neighbours.
Tours will begin in May, once a month, and booking must be made by calling Rydal Mount 0n +44 (0) 15394 33002.
Rydal is a small hamlet near Ambleside at the northern tip of Lake Windermere in the English Lake District National Park.
More information:
Visiting Cumbria: http://www.golakes.co.uk/

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