by Dee Schaefer, Becketwood Member
While in England with Road Scholar, we toured more than a dozen gardens. This garden is at our country house hotel on Lake Windermere. It was a taste of what was to come during our two-week stay in Cumbria and Yorkshire.
We were in a land of rocks, which lend themselves to enchanting rock gardens. Although the countryside seems austere, there are patches of color everywhere in the springtime.
The homes and gardens of celebrated writers intrigued me the most. This is Wordsworth's final home in the Lake District. He designed the peaceful gardens surrounding this gracious home where we nibbled on gingerbread and sipped white wine. We also visited Ruskin's home and garden, Beatrix Potter's farm and garden, and the Bronte sisters' home in the Yorkshire moors.
Here we are—my sister and I—chatting with one of the young assistant gardeners in an herb garden outside Levens Hall, a stately Renaissance house celebrated for its topiary creations.
This remote stone church dedicated to St. Martin of Tours has welcomed travelers for hundreds of years.
Here we are at the outside courtyard of the magnificent ruined castle on the Lowther Estate, which now looks much like a stage set. It has been preserved by the National Trust as a creative forum for conceptual gardening. What you see in the foreground is a gardener's translation of a threadbare tapestry. The empty interior will eventually house variously shaped gardens filled with trees and shrubs. It remains one of my favorite spaces since it is unique and innovative.
Many of the gardens we visited are terraced above lakes and valleys. This view from Ruskin's renovated ruin overlooking Lake Coniston is stunning.
We had the privilege of being hosted by David and Diane Kinsman in the gardens surrounding their fifteenth-century house.
One of the most memorable views in the Kinsmans' garden is this moss-lined path. It must be kept moist to maintain its fresh, green appearance.
Meet Diane Kinsman bringing us Damson plum pudding for dessert. Most of us found our meals delicious be they international or regional in flavor.
Of course, there were sheep everywhere. Some are rare, ancient breeds like these bearing four horns.
The changing weather and light in the Lake District are a constant surprise. No wonder they have inspired artists over the centuries.
Although we visited Elizabethan castles and residences dating from various centuries, this Arts and Crafts home called Blackwell left its mark. We were free to roam about its spacious rooms, sit in the alcoves, and savor the landscape.
This is by far one of the most memorable limestone rock gardens. In the background you see Sizergh, a medieval castle.
This view is from our hotel window in Harrogate, a Victorian spa town. The domed structure and adjacent buildings once housed one of England's most luxurious baths. Part of the complex is now a Chinese restaurant; another section is a lively pub.
Fountains Abbey was once a thriving Cistercian Abbey before being leveled by Cromwell. In the eighteenth century, it became a "folly" for a neighboring property.
Garden beds filled with masses of iris, brick walls covered with wisteria, and a distant glimpse of the entrance to yet more gardens at Ripley Castle drift in our memories. It was a wonderful trip—thanks to Road Scholar, a pair of resourceful, delightful guides, and fourteen fellow travelers whose congeniality contributed to our merriment.