Stourhead – The best and biggest landscape garden

Stourhead views

Stourhead views

I was actually visiting another lovely National Trust Garden in Somerset this day. On my way out, I asked if the staff knew of a circular walk in the area. They all looked at each other, big smile, and then they all agreed. “You have to go to Stourhead”.

Well Stourhead was nothing like I expected, and certainly no ordinary public footpath 🙂 It was no garden either. But it was definitely the best walk I have ever had.

Why visit:
Arriving at this garden there is a lovely tea room, a gift shop and a plant shop. I showed my National Trust card and entered the property. I was quite happy to see that dogs are allowed in the afternoons.
After walking just a few minutes I arrived at a walled garden filled with veg and flowers. Greenhouses, cold frames and loads of fruit trees. It was nice, but did not give any hint on what was in store.
After the walled garden you arrive on the main road to the manor house which is huge. It`s not a cozy romantic kind of manor, this is the huge, powerful almost a bit threatening type of building.
I am not very interested in houses as of now, so I just followed the signs for the landscape garden.

Through an open gate and arriving at small opening in the forest, I could suddenly see a temple in the distance. At that moment I understood where I was. I had admired this garden featured on Gardeners World on BBC, and could not believe my luck! I also googled this garden after watching the romantic movie ‘Pride & Prejudice’ where Darcy proposes to Lizzy in the pouring rain outside the Temple of Apollo.

The next 4 hours in this 1072 hectare huge garden, I ran around with my camera trying to capture all the lovely sights.
The sky opened more than once followed by sun, making everything shiny and sparkly with raindrops.
There is a leaflet available listing all the trees and bushes in the garden as everything is numbered.

You really must visit this garden, and when you do, please make sure to spend a few minutes on each bench as they are perfectly placed to give you a wonderful view, promise!!!

History:
The garden was designed by Henry Hoare II (who build and owned the manor in the early 1700s), and was designed to show different views, as a series landscape paintings. A true piece of living art. The huge lake is the center, and around it he added bridges, grottoes, temples and filled it with exotic and rare plants.
National trust took over this property in 1940s, and have kept it really perfect ever since. I think Henry Hoare II would be proud!

Stourhead view against the PantheonStourhead view against the Pantheon
Image of old gate

Loads of old gates, this one takes of from the main path, I wonder where it leads?

How to get there:
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The garden is situated in Wiltshire. There are no buses or trains near by, so a car is the best option.

Where to stay:
I actually found a perfect B&B / Inn only 40 mins car ride away from Stourhead and very close to about 5 other National Trust gardens.
It is called The fat Pigeon and actually has a really lovely garden it self. 🙂
Not expensive, not the best service, but such a grand estate to stay in!

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Glasgow Botanical gardens – with the beautiful glass palace!

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On a rainy late autumn day I spend 3 hours in this lovely garden. Due to the weather I spent more time in the temperate houses then I usually would, and what a treat!
The Botanical gardens in Glasgow are the diamond in the charming area of the West end.

Why visit:
The first thing you see once inside the old beautiful iron gates are the beautiful old glasshouses. The Kibble Palace must be the worlds most beautiful glasshouse with its round feminin forms, yet big and powerfull design.

The areas in the garden that impressed me the most was a vast grass border and the area with bush roses.
The grass borders really seemed alive, full of movement and sound making me want to interact with it, touch it.

There was very few roses in bloom when I was there, but the rose borders still was a huge hit. I have never seen so many different hips. They where long and black, pink and round, some hairy, some yellow and every shape and size you can imagine. And from seeing all the hips, I can promise you that this part of the garden must be spectacular in spring and early summer when all the roses are in bloom!

Walking down to the landscape garden – the arboretum, towards and along the river Kelvin is a really lovely walk. The trees give protection against weather and prying eyes. It seems that bringing a picnic bag from Waitrose and spending the afternoon here, is a popular activity amongst the locals.

The beatiful arboretum with loads of beautiful trees was where I spent most of my time. The garden recently got awarded money to collect and preserve for the National collection of Trees in Scotland. This will probably secure this part of the garden and make the arboretum even more exiting to visit in the years to come.

Kids will love this garden, different play areas are available and also different interaction learning about nature.

A tearoom serve tea, coffee, lunch and sweets.
I did not see the usual gift shop, and I missed it. I would love to buy some seeds and postcards.
As a tourist – visitor, you need to bring something home! 😉

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The gardens history
The property was bought in 1839 founded by the local botanist William Thomas Hooker, and the garden was opened to the public in 1842. Kibble Palace was opened in its current position in 1873 lit by 600 gas lamps. That must have been so spectacular.

You can also visit:
* If you need to warm after the visit you might try the Oran Mor Whiskey bar across the road. Its a beatiful old church converted to a bar!

* If you fancy another Botanical garden then drive the short drive over to Edinburgh. The botanical gardens in Edinburgh seem a bit bigger and maybe a bit more modern, I really love them both!

Getting there:
The gardens is a short walk from the Hill head Underground stop.

If you are visiting Scotland or Glasgow, I highly recommend a visit to this garden, even on a rainy day.

A lovely Bagatelle in Paris – Parc de Bagatelle

Parc de bagatelle

Some years ago, I bought a rose book to get inspiration to my new garden. In it I found fantastic pictures of the garden Parc de Bagatelle. I fell in love on the spot, and I can whole heartedly say, that this garden has influenced me more then any other garden. It was my first ever garden visit!

Getting there
Going to this garden by public transport is a bit tricky even though it is really close to the city center of Paris. I will therefor suggest you get a taxi. If you really want to try the public transport and have loads of spare time, then go for the bus (bus 43 or 244 from mĂŠtro Pont de Neuilly).
I did the train and walked 2 hours, and by the time I arrived I nearly needed an ambulance.
The garden sits in the beautiful and huge forest of Bois de Boulogne.
A ticket to see the gardens costs about 5-6 Euros and I do believe it is accessible for wheelchairs.

Why visit
First off, this garden has everything, and the fact that it sits in tarmac covered Paris is a reason in it self to visit.
If you are in Paris for some other reason, I beg you to see this garden!
It is most famous for its rose garden and it is truly magnificent. Huge roses, small roses, ramblers climbing over arches, walls and pergolas and a huge strict cut parterre with so much roses you would not believe.
There are more then 10.000 roses in this garden.
They are all labelled, so if you need a new rose, this is a place to go get inspiration.
The garden also contains a cottage garden, landscape garden filled with exotic birds, waterfalls, grottoes, a pagoda, romantic bridges and a fantastic Iris garden.
I must say that the Iris garden really made a big impression on me, and I have a big Iris border at home, inspired by this garden.
This garden has a scientific systematic feel to it, everything labelled and planted in order, but not in a boring strict rows.
So if you are a romantic cottage owner or a nerdy plantsman this garden will fit both bills easy!

The gardens history
The garden was created in 64 days, by Louis XVI brother, in a bet against Marie-Antoinette who also lived there from time to time. They used the house as something in between a summer house and a hunting lodge. A posh one. 🙂

In 1835 the brit Lord Seymour, Marquess of Hertford bought the property, and doubled the size of the gardens and build new beautiful buildings. I was really impressed by the Orangerie.
So in 1905 it was all sold to the City of Paris. The landscape designer currently employed by the city (Jean-Claude-Nicolas Forestier) created the flower gardens that are the once we now visit for. The rose garden, the iris garden etc. The rose garden was completed in 1906. And has since then housed an annual rose exhibit for new roses. A debutant ball 🙂

Designers:
The first version of the garden and park was designed by the Scottish landscape gardener Thomas Blaikie.
The flower gardens inclusive rose and iris gardens was designed by Jean-Claude-Nicolas Forestier.
Parc de Bagatelle Website >

Rose garden in Parc de Bagatelle