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Thursday, July 2, 2009


I don't believe that my English heritage has anything to do with my love of English gardens, but my love of English gardens has certainly influenced the design of my own garden. 
On our recent visit to England we punctuated our visits with family and friends with visits to 6 beautiful gardens. The day after we arrived, with no rain in the forecast, we headed up to Sizergh Castle, in Cumbria, about a one hour drive from where we were staying. Sizergh is a National Trust property, acquired from the Strickland family in 1950. The house was started in 1239 but the present house dates back to the 14th century. The Stricklands still live in the house occupying one wing of the house which is excluded from the house tour. Following our guided tour through the house, where we saw some wonderful Elizabethan oak paneling, we headed out to the grounds. 

I have a fascination with plants growing out of walls and the climate in Cumbria supports all manner of wall growth. Here erigeron growing up the original entry staircase into the house.

The slate roofs covered with mosses.

But the star of Sizergh gardens is the limestone rock garden laid out in the 1920s.  It was not, as I imagined, a rock garden with alpine plants but a large sunken area with stream flowing through the bottom. The plantings were much larger than I imagined but still spectacular for the color of the Japanese maples set among conifers. 

We enjoyed our picnic lunch before heading up for a return visit to Holehird gardens, home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society. We had hoped to catch, once again, the Rhododendrons in flower, but most were past their peak bloom. We were, however, visiting at the perfect time to view the Himalayan blue poppy, Meconopsis. I have a vague memory that I once bought a packet of these seeds! I was doomed to failure as the plant will only grow in cool moist conditions! 

A perfect stand of yellow lupines.

However, my favorite features in this garden are the alpines growing in the lakeland scree, troughs, raised beds and the tufa house.

I can only dream of growing plants like this out of my walls.

The tufa house was once a Victorian pit house and now houses a permanent collection of alpines. At the far end water trickles over stacked lakeland slate. Large blocks of tufa create a permanent siting for Dianthus, Draba, Helychrysum and Saxifrages.

Ideas for my own garden were now floating around in my head as we headed home at the end of a perfect day of garden visits. Sunday we would be driving back up to visit the gardens of Gresgarth Hall.


  1. Oh my this is beautiful. So many ideas. I may have to save a few.

  2. Hi RR.
    What an amazing place, and I can't believe that I have never visited this place, it being down the road from where my parents live! Next time we go over to Blighty I will make sure to pay a visit to Kendal, and take a look. And how about that tufa house?

    It looks like you have a great Roma tomatoe crop there!

    Great pictures RR.
    And welcome back.

  3. Hi Ruth-No I have never been to Holker Hall. Will have to put it on the list. Have you been to Gresgarth Hall. That will be my next garden post. Wow, what a garden.
    Brooke- I have so many ides going round in my head. Will I ever do any of them< that's the question.
    ESP-I love that tufa house. Wait til I show you Gresgarth Hall, and Hidcote and Snowshill.... We certainly do the gardens these days. Tomatoes have been roasted today.

  4. Wonderful tour, never been but I have missed something. Especially love those steps and the tufa house.

  5. Hermes- My favorite is the tufa house too. Stay tuned for more garden visits- at least 4!

  6. What a beautiful garden. I can only imagine something as old as a house that dates back to the 14th century! If (when) I visit England to see some gardens, I'm going to look you up for recommendations on which ones to see.

  7. Linda- Thanks for dropping by.
    Carol- I will certainly point you in the right direction when you have the chance to go.

  8. Glad your back!
    Awesome gardens! Your pictures stir creativity and feeds the eyes.


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