Tag Archives: walled garden

William’s garden is blooming lovely

23 Jun

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High summer has always been a glorious time in the heritage garden that helped inspire William Wordsworth to become a poet, and, despite suffering severe flooding last December, this year is no different.

Thanks to the tireless work of head gardener Amanda Thackeray and her team, every corner is once again filled with heady scents and vibrant colours.

The profusion of old-fashioned shrub roses has to be seen – and smelt – to be believed. The large pink, white and crimson blooms of Rosa Mundi, which dates back to the 12th century, jostle for space alongside the crimson rose of Lancaster, also known as the apothecary’s rose, and Quatre Saisons, one of the oldest roses, which has an unusual second flush of flowers in late summer.

Amanda says: ‘It’s taken a tremendous amount of effort, but I’m thrilled to say the garden is looking lovely. And with the roses in bloom, it’s the perfect time to visit. It’s difficult to imagine now that on 5 December the whole thing was engulfed by several feet of muddy, silty water.

‘The flood cost us a lot of plants and left us with a huge amount of cleaning up and replanting. A few areas are still awaiting replanting with herbs, but the bulk of the work is done now and the rest will happen shortly.’

Wordsworth House’s flood ravaged back garden last December

The flood ravaged back garden at Wordsworth House

Amanda continues: ‘One of my favourite sights at the moment is the shrub rose Burnet bursting into bloom along the terrace walk where William and his sister Dorothy loved to play. It really is beautiful with its masses of creamy-white flowers, and once the flowers are finished they’re followed by sumptuous black hips.’

Our head gardener Amanda Thackeray

Wordsworth House head gardener Amanda Thackeray smelling a rose

Amanda is very proud of her colourful geraniums too. She says: ‘We have everything from subtle white to cool shades of blue and a whole array of pinks. Geraniums are an amazing genus as they flower for a long period. My particular favourite is the shocking pink Geranium Patricia.

‘I also love Valeriana officinalis, or common valerian, which has heads of sweetly scented pinkish-white flowers and pops up throughout the garden.’


We’ve come over all warm and woolly at Wordsworth House

3 Jul

Crochet at Wordsworth House 1

It might be summer, but we’re enjoying a bit of a woollen theme in the garden at Wordsworth House just now.

In honour of Woolfest, which was held in Cockermouth last weekend, and because visitors loved the results of the yarn bombing we experienced last summer, gardener Amanda has added some woolly decorations to our small walled garden.

They are a wonderful complement to volunteer Lynne’s fabulous crocheted bugs, which have taken up residence around the place.

If you like all things bright and woolly, why not come and see them for yourself?

Crochet at Wordsworth House 2

Crochet at Wordsworth House 3

Amanda’s garden then and now…

22 Jan

As I mentioned in my previous post, Amanda has tracked down some wonderful pictures of how her garden used to look in the 20th century – we can’t be much more specific with many of the dates, as the ones she found in the National Trust’s online image library are undated.

We can be fairly certain about this one (above) though, as it shows Mrs Ellis, who lived with her family in the house in the 1930s, on the terrace with her mother. The picture belongs to her daughter Odille, who remembers growing up here, before the house was sold to the town of Cockermouth in 1937 and handed over to the National Trust a year later.

This is how the terrace looks now – I’m sure Mrs Ellis would be pleased that we have recently rebuilt the summerhouse.

This one shows the back garden some time before 1985, when the house received a coat of terracotta limewash.

This is how it looked in summer 2012 – with historically authentic vegetable plots in the place of lawn – as taken by Chris Smith, a visitor with a talent for photography!

Season of mellow fruitfulness

6 Sep
One of the costumed servants picking apples for our working 18th-century kitchen

Harvest: One of the costumed servants picking apples for our working 18th-century kitchen

We keep finding apples with bite marks lying on the paths and in the beds – the Greenup’s Pippins look ripe and delicious because they’re a large variety, but as anyone who tastes one quickly realises, they need to spend a couple more weeks ripening. Hopefully, the Indian summer will last and do the trick.

A lot of people have been admiring our apple crop because, nationally, it’s been such a bad year for apples. Here we have the advantage of being fully walled, which helps protect the garden from the inclement weather, making a better environment for our pollinating insects.

The other advantage we have is that we grow a wide variety of cottage garden plants spread over a long season, providing an ideal habitat for insects, particularly bees, which are one of our main pollinators.

For those who haven’t got high walls, to boost next year’s apple crop, put in as many traditional cottage garden plants as you can. Globe thistle, borage, marjoram, cone flowers and hyssop are particularly popular with bees. For more ideas, have a look at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website.

The apples are a key feature of Amanda’s autumn garden tours, which are on every Wednesday in September at 11.30am – if you’re in the area why not drop in?

If you’re able to visit us on another day, we have fascinating talks in the house at 11.30am and 2.30pm every day. They’re given by the costumed servants, who will be premiering some new subjects this autumn including Meet the Bigwigs (the weird world of Georgian fashion), Capon Ale and Turnip Wine (the story of 18th-century drinking) and Etiquette and Excess (the glories of Georgian dining).

Heritage apples in Wordsworth House garden

Healthy crop: Heritage apples in Wordsworth House garden

The value of volunteers

21 Aug
Volunteer Hilary raking the "plat", or lawn, in the small walled garden

The rake and the lady: Volunteer Hilary tidying the “plat”, or lawn, in the small walled garden

The garden volunteers have been busy looking after everything while Amanda has swanned off for a fortnight (she says it’s a well-deserved break with her family). They’ve been weeding, watering and spending lots of time chatting to our lovely visitors.

You may already have noticed when the garden volunteers have appeared in my blog, they all wear rather fetching bright red polo shirts while they’re working, so it’s easy for visitors to see who they are.

They are an important – but small part – of the overall Wordsworth House volunteer team. Volunteers also help as room guides, playing our harpsichord, welcoming and orientating visitors in reception, selling raffle tickets, doing admin, and serving in the café and shop. Without them, we simply couldn’t operate.

If you live within easy travelling distance of Cockermouth, have time to spare and would enjoy meeting and working with some really great people, why not come and join us?

To find out more about volunteering at Wordsworth House and Garden, email us at wordsworthhouse@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 01900 824805.

Or if you live further afield, get in touch with your local National Trust property and see what opportunities they have. It’s a brilliant way to use your skills, learn fresh ones, make new friends and do something really worthwhile.

Volunteer Kat among the runner beans

Happy at work: Volunteer Kat among the runner beans

Volunteer raffle ticket seller Robert

Selling in the cellar: Volunteer raffle ticket seller Robert

Pictures of loveliness

3 Aug

Here are some lovely pictures of what’s in bloom in the garden at Wordsworth House just now. Gorgeous, aren’t they?

A riot of sweet peas

Traditional favourite: A riot of sweet peas

Splash of sunshine: Pot marigold

Splash of sunshine: A pot marigold

Fluffy: A cloud of meadowsweet

Fluffy: A cloud of meadowsweet

Spikey: A tangle of teasels

Spikey: A tangle of teasels

A courgette by any other name

5 Jul
The long herbaceous border at Helmsley

Colourful: The long herbaceous border at Helmsley

If you love gardens and are going to be in Yorkshire this summer, pay a visit to Helmsley Walled Garden, near Thirsk. Amanda and her volunteers went on an excursion there this week and they loved it.

Like my home here, it’s a Georgian walled garden filled with gorgeous, colourful plants – and like this garden, it’s run by a charity so depends on the hard work of a dedicated volunteer team to keep it in tip-top shape.

Amanda couldn’t resist taking the snap below to show Sian, the senior retail consultant in our splendid shop. Sian said she wouldn’t mind sharing her name with a fuchsia or a peony, but she wasn’t so keen on a courgette. Sian isn’t exactly the green-fingered type, though – she’d be the first to admit that if she was in charge, this place would be Astroturfed from edge to edge!

Green and lovely: Sian, the retail consultant

Sian, the courgette

Green and leafy: Sian, the courgette

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