Gardens: To visit or not to visit?
Are you a gardener, or a non-gardener? Would you take a trip specifically to visit a garden? Or are you someone who always prefers to take the shortest route? If you’re one of the latter, or maybe you haven't really thought about visiting gardens, then I’d ask for one minute of your time. Please read on…
One damp morning in a south Warwickshire garden I found myself strolling along a dewy, sweet violet speckled lawn. The lawn drew me toward an avenue of rocket shaped evergreen Wellingtonia trees. I caught sight of two buzzards circling majestically against the clear blue sky above. As I lowered my gaze I caught a rarer glimpse, this time a muntjac deer as he fled from nearby woodland.
On a Northumberland lawn I once stood in awe, the sight before me a grand water cascade. The feature had an age old feel and blended skillfully into the garden landscape between stately hedges. It was staggering to think that someone believed enough in the potential of their plot to invest so much time and energy in its creation. The result on this particular day was masses of children, each thoroughly enjoying the sunshine, the camaraderie, the splashing and the moment. In such a grand location I found no stuffiness, just ordinary people like me having great fun.
On yet another sunny afternoon I wandered across a nicely clipped carpet of Welsh grass. The high garden walls removed any trace of a breeze and shade was hard to find. I was beginning to think enough was enough when I rounded a shrub, meeting a new and inspirational friend. This friend I came to know as Romneya; a plant commonly called Californian Tree Poppy. This first meeting was years ago, but last weekend as I walked through a plant fair, I happened across a baby potted Romneya placed randomly on a table amongst other less familiar friends. The sight instantly took me back to that first meeting in Wales.
Baking in the midday sun at a property in Somerset, I stopped for a breather near an age old conservatory attached to a castle. High temperatures made for shallow breathing yet I froze instantly as something exotic hovered from flower to flower before me. I’d read about humming birds, but surely this couldn’t be? I stood transfixed for a few minutes, watching as it flitted around the exotic plants; if only I had my camera with me! Those few minutes triggered a search through books until I’d traced its name; a humming bird hawk moth.
These are just some of my personal experiences within gardens, and I could have written a book! I’d consider myself very fortunate to have fallen into a career where any particular day can throw new challenges, new experiences, and new memories at me. I’m realistic of course, and know only too well that gardens aren’t all sunshine and daisies; but I’ve seen enough in my time to know that gardens offer so much to so many. Gardens can inspire and excite the mind, test your stamina and strength, and wash away most all your worries.
I’d like to finish for now by saying that if you still aren’t sure whether to visit a garden, then do be reassured that somewhere out there: a plant is waiting to be discovered, a happy moment to arise, and memories to be born. Many of our nation’s favourite gardens out there are being cared for and nurtured for your enjoyment. Gardens that open for Heritage Open Days offer a gateway to your garden experience, and I’ll finish by answering the title question of this post with a very positive YES! - Gardens are most definitely TO VISIT!
I would love to read your comments - what is it that makes, or would make a garden special for you?!