Sunday, August 06, 2006

Garden getaways - 29 & 30 July 2006

LongleatAn idyllic summer outing is a visit to a beautiful English country garden, so we spent the whole weekend in Dorset around this theme.

Saturday started with Longleat: an amazing statement of wealth and power. Many of the features in this stately home were inspired by the Doge’s Palace in Venice and although we have seen the original, we were still impressed.

Sherborne Castle from across the lakeIn the afternoon we visited Sherborne Castle, older, but more tranquil, on the banks of a 'Capability’ Brown lake. The house was originally built and owned by Sir Walter Raleigh.
The adjacent town of Sherborne as another 'film set' town, centered around the church and almshouses

One of the artifical lakes at Minterne GardensSunday was a series of different gardens. First Minterne: a lazy winding path threading through gardens built around a stream, that had been transformed into a series of lakes and cascades. The owner apparently rode over to Sherborne to get ideas from Mr Brown, as he supervised the garden alterations there.

The Italianate garden at MappertonNext was Mapperton. These were remodelled in the 1920's as Italian gardens and are a series of 4 terraces stepping down a wonderfully sheltered valley: a real treat to wander through. Equally lovely is their cafe - well worth a visit.

Forde Abbey Forde Abbey was to be our final stop. It has an impressive house remodelled from the old Abbey. The gardens are also lovely for a summer's afternoon with fabulous flower borders, and the highest powered fountain in the UK. The vegetable garden in depressingly impressive. Impressive because of the neatness and size of the vegetables and depressing because there is not a weed in sight, unlike any vegetable garden we have ever had – really discourages one from ever trying again.

Heale House Garden's Summer HouseOn the way home we decided to slip in one more – Heale House Garden. It was like slipping back in a time warp and we loved it. Apparently King Charles II hid there, and one almost expected to see him pop around the corner at any time!! Surprisingly, the Summer House in the picture has two streams running under it, the one pictured and another at right-angles that does not show in the photo.

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