Gardening with George: The Lake District

Hello garden lovers and greetings from the Lake District in Cumbria!

The ravishing beauty of this region is hard to express, but the simple words of one her greatest sons, William Wordsworth, put it best: “The loveliest spot that man hath found.”

The Lake District has long been a mecca for tourists and it’s not hard to see why – the scenery is simply stunning!

I enjoyed a week there with my three very dear American ‘garden girlfriends’ - Linda, Cathy and Linda. I picked them up from Heathrow Airport and following a very slow trip up the motorway (bank holiday weekend), we arrived at our cottage late on a glorious afternoon.

The surrounding fields were a verdant green, divided by ancient drystone walls covered in moss and ferns. Black faced sheep took scant notice as you passed, whilst the new born lambs jumped and played in the spring sunshine. Paradise found!

Over the next week we indulged our passion for many things - the local cuisine in quaint old country pubs, fresh cakes in ye olde teashops, rummaging through antique shops and old book shelves, singing along to ‘Hits of the 1960’s’ and marvelling at the sheer beauty of the region.

Garden visits were a must of course and highlights included the stunning Holker Hall, where the tulip display was a knockout!

Pink and white, underplanted with blue forget-me-nots! The Hall’s impressive interior is regarded as the grandest of its date (16th century) in Lancashire.

The historic Levens Hall contains the finest and oldest topiary garden in the world, with over 100 trees, some planted in the 1690’s. The forest of fantasy shapes is extraordinary, depicting chess pieces, peacocks, umbrellas, lions, kings and queens.

Brantwood, home of the Victorian artist, writer and social reformer, John Ruskin, overlooks Coniston Water and has to be one of the most glorious and tranquil views I have ever seen!

The woodland walks he created are really something special, leaving you with a sense of being ‘at one with nature’ - with the fragrance of the bluebells an added bonus!

Other visits included Wordsworth’s Rydal Mount, Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top, Lowther Castle and Brockhole Gardens.

Much of the best scenery can only be viewed by taking the famous walking trails or steep winding narrow roads such as the infamous Hardknott Pass.

It is known as one of Britain's most challenging roads, with a heart-stopping series of sharp and narrow hairpin bends and is said to be the steepest road in England with a gradient of 33 per cent - I can still hear the ladies screaming in the backseat!

Was it all worth it – most definitely!

George Hoad