The garden that Wordsworth planned

Visitors know that William Wordsworth lived here for most of his life, that he wrote many of his greatest poems when he was living here. But not all realise that he began the planning – and the planting – of the glorious garden here which has never looked so lovely.

Now his work, and ours, is celebrated in The English Garden magazine, whose cover story this month is about Wordsworth’s romantic garden. Accompanied by seven pages of truly stunning photographs (thank you, Joe Wainwright, these are breathtaking) it tells how the poet was also a landscape gardener in tune with the ideals of Romanticism.

house and gardens in TEG mag

No formal planting schemes here. Wordsworth wanted nature to lead the way, to “defend us from the tyranny of trimness and neatness”. Sketches of the garden drawn in the year he died, and only discovered recently, have helped us to continue our work – his work – so that the garden is still very similar to how it was in Wordsworth’s day.

Of course, trees planted by Wordsworth are now mature specimens, and there are shrubs – including magnificent varieties of rhododendron – which were planted after his time. There are weeds too, and we, like Wordsworth, see these are glowers out of place, not just to be pulled up and thrown away.

The magazine feature pays tribute to the hard work and dedication of our curator, Peter Elkington, and head gardener Helen Green: “The poet would surely be happy if he could see the lightness of touch with which Helen and Peter care for his garden, as he would have wanted, with the same deference to the natural world.”

Please do look out for the magazine and read Clare Foggett’s lovely article. But better still, come and see for yourself. We’re open every day and there is surely nowhere more lovely to spend a few summer hours.

magazine in the shops

The English Garden magazine in the news stands

Through the eyes of a child…

“The house was stunning and we all loved it. Our favourite part was exploring and getting lost in the woods…”

letter lost in woods

This is from a thank-you letter sent to the Wordsworth family after the recent poetry awards for young people. Christopher Wordsworth and his mother, Susan, were here to present the prizes. And among the schools attending was a group from Bewcastle School, north of Carlisle. So far north that they are only six miles from the Scottish border.

So the Wordsworths were thrilled to receive a batch of letters from the children, several of whose poems were commended at the award ceremony. Especially the note that “we really enjoyed the drinks and nibbles because we were really hungry after our long drive”.

The prize-giving event is an opportunity for local people – well, Cumbrians, if not necessarily local – to visit what many see as a tourist attraction. “It’s on our doorstep yet we’ve never been before,” said one parent from Ambleside, who now recommends Rydal Mount to all her b&b guests.

And we always invite the youngsters to explore the gardens that William Wordsworth created, and which we are continually restoring in accordance with his plans. He would be thrilled to see the grounds being explored by young people loving the chance to run wild if just for a short time. They agreed with Dorothy Wordsworth who said: “Rydal Mount is the nicest place in the world for children”.

“It was like fairies live in the garden,” wrote Niamh from Bewcastle School. “My favourite part was when we ran away from the teachers.”

RM natural garden today

“ if there were fairies in the garden..”

She sent us copies  of  pictures of daffodils, and the famous poem in their own handwriting, which she and her friends made, inspired by William Wordsworth.

letter from bewcastle school