Being out in the sunshine yesterday and getting on with some gardening jobs reminded me of the fantastic opportunities available across Cumbria to see some wonderful gardens and floral displays and as we head into May, its a great time of year to see them. I’ve outlined some of our favourites here – why not add one of these locations to your itinerary next time you visit.
Mirehouse is a remarkable historic house and gardens facing Bassenthwaite Lake, with Dodd Wood and Skiddaw at the rear. The gardens contain four wooded adventure playgrounds, varied sheltered gardens to amble around, and lakeside walks through woods and parks. Its a private house, so opening times to the house are restricted but the grounds and tea-room being open daily.
In the grounds you will find collections of Rhododendrons and Hydrangeas, a sheltered Bee Garden, traditional orchard, a heather path maze, the Canada garden, terraced lawns, and a rare wildflower meadow. A circular walk of around a mile leads from the house, through the woods, along the lake shore and back to the entrance. You can also visit the lovely church of St Bega which inspired Lord Alfred Tennyson’s opening line of the poem ‘Morte D’Arthur’. The poetry walk, housing a rose garden at the centre, has recently been extended and shows poems associated with Mirehouse, including works by Lord Alfred Tennyson, Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge.
Muncaster shows off a riot of colour across its 77 acres of woodland gardens during Spring and early Summer. This is when their famous rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas are at their best. The Terrace Walk, described by John Ruskin as ‘The Gateway to Paradise’, offers spectacular views of the Eskdale Valley and the Lakeland fells, with their constantly changing moods. A specimen of Nothofagus obliqua is the tallest example in Britain.
The plant centre offers the largest collection of hardy rhododendrons in the North, and a convenient mail order service is available. In the old stables area is Creeping Kate’s Kitchen, serving meals and snacks, and the Carriage Gift Shop, selling interesting and unusual gifts.
Levens Hall, Kendal
These world-famous award winning gardens were laid out in 1694. The topiary, beech hedges and colourful seasonal beds create a stunning visual impact. The topiary garden has over 100 specimens including huge abstract shapes, pyramids and columns reminiscent of monstrous chess men. Levens Hall’s topiary is the oldest in the world and some shrubs are over 300 years old
As spring progresses, the rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias provide a background tapestry of colour to the Upper Garden, while specimen trees such Magnolia ‘Caerhays Surprise’ in the Walled Garden are a singular delight.
The gardens at Holehird are maintained by a group of volunteers who do a fantastic job.
May is the time when the National Collection of Meconopsis, large blue Himalayan poppies, is at its best. Look out for the massed planting in trial beds in the Paddock, as well as in the mixed planting in the Courtyard and other areas of the Gardens.
Holehird Gardens is open to the public every day of the year but on On Saturday 19 May this year (10am – 4pm) they are holding a special open day so you can find out how this unique garden works. You can go behind the scenes to see how it is all managed by the volunteers. There will be guided walks and demonstrations, plant advice and children’s trails and plenty of volunteers on hand to talk about the work they do and why Holehird is so important to them. There will be tea and cake for all in the members’ room and the chance to see our Library and other areas normally off-limit to visitors.
Run by the National Trust, Acorn Bank is best known for its comprehensive herb collection and traditional fruit orchards. It is a tranquil haven with a fascinating industrial past. Indulge yourself at the tea-room, where culinary herbs and fruit from the garden are used daily in soups, salads and puddings. You can wander along the Crowdundle Beck to the partially restored watermill, enjoying wildlife in the woods on the way, and discover more about the history of gypsum mining on the estate. Enjoy the views across the Eden Valley to the Lake District from the magnificent backdrop of the sandstone house.
Acorn Bank offers free, daily guided tours to visitors.
So there is plenty if choice across Cumbria, but if you don’t want to stray far from Keswick then you always have Fitz Park in the centre of town and Hope Park, close to Derwentwater which both have lovely displays throughout the year.
Stay With Us?
Of course, we can offer you some availability throughout May and the early part of June if you want to come along to see some of the delightful gardens during this time, or just enjoy a peaceful break in a beautiful location. We currently have £50 off any May week booked at Latrigg View and also have some limited availability at Riverside View, Howrahs Court, Derwent Cottage and 3 Grizedale Close – see availability pages for more information and prices.