One of my greatest pleasures of living in England for nearly a decade, is my love affair with the beautiful English gardens. Take a stroll through the countryside, town or village, and the eye will be drawn to the many stone walls laden with twisted, over-hanging trees and flowering shrubs. There are endless picturesque pathways to explore. Every gate, town, or village alleyway leads to a delightful path of eye-catching vibrant color. It is a rich reward for a wanderer with a gardener’s peering eye.
Treasure Houses of England, the great palaces, castles and houses are a rich heritage shared by millions each year. Visitors flock to these ancestral estates, not only to discover their unique architecture and rich history, but also to enjoy their magnificent grounds with tall statues and flowing fountains.
Seasonal displays of bluebells and snowdrops, rhododendrons and magnolias and the sweet-smell of rose gardens attract crowds from around the world. All this makes a tranquil place for families to explore and relax ~ English weather permitting, of course.
Summer weather is unpredictable in Britain. Perhaps it is the many grey and rainy days, or just the need to be outdoors that draws the Brits to both long walks and the devotion of care to their exquisite gardens. Especially on summer days, it is an inevitable fact; gardens are an important extension of proud British culture and simply, meant to be shared.
A morning coffee outdoors, or afternoon tea shared with family or friends, is a national pastime the entire United Kingdom is invited to enjoy. It is hard to resist such pleasure.
Why not relish hospitality AND the fruit of gardening labor? After all, the many days of rain enhances the captivating beauty of the English Garden. Due drops and gentle rain place a shimmering glaze on every flower bed. I say, it is the diffused light on overcast days which brings life to each vibrant leaf and glorious blossom.
Arches of lavender wisteria and deep green ivy stretch across the stone-walls. The pink and purple trellises of climbing clematis and geranium floral pots seem so prolific. No wonder the British love fresh flowers. There is always an abundance of wispy greenery and striking cut flowers to bring inside. They sit majestically on sitting-room mantles and dining tables.
Lovely stone houses; the color determined by the quarried geographic region, backdrop the floral beauty so well. Perhaps I am partial to the endeared Cotswold villages. Here families shop and stroll along lovely streams, cross over hump-backed bridges, to enjoy an afternoon hike; or perhaps, just for an ice cream. Its the slower pace of village life.
Flowers beautify cottage windows sills and decorate small enclosed spaces. The rows of attached thatched-roof cottages glisten in the sun. It is their prized climbing roses that seem to touch the sky. The latched wooden doorways tempts one to knock at each door, if only to step within to explore the cottage furnishings inside.
It is the English hospitality which displays care for detail that is so evident to welcome neighbors and friends. It is even more obvious to this American, swept into the warmth of hospitality by British friends.
It is the cottage garden that forever wins my heart – manicured garden with small-spaced pathways between glowing flora. The contrasting flowering perennials, mixed with lavender spikes, lupins, or tall hollyhocks and deep-colored dahlias, are all vying for attention. Add to it cheerful daisies and it is a glorious butterfly sanctuary.
Gardens are a perfect place ~ spend a quiet moment, reflect on life and appreciate the vast beauty that surrounds our lives. It is our busyness that robs us of contentment when life becomes more about worry and less of enjoying each new day.
Beautiful gardens fill us with rhythms of nature through songbirds and hovering butterflies . “They drift in the gentle breeze.” The wind danced blossoms and the warmth of sun- kissed cheeks helps us breathe in this amazing beauty. It’s such a welcome retreat to unwind from busy schedules, to relax with a drink and simply exhale.
Perhaps it is not too late in life to put on brakes, to slow the pace, and make the needed changes that restores our inner soul. It seems worth our every effort.
Be thankful for all of life ~ the breathtakingly beautiful.
Photo courtesy: Dave Richards