Sandy Felton visits the Oxfordshire house so beloved of William Morris.
There are times in your life when you experience somewhere that is very special. A place which stays in the memory and brings pleasure during recollection maybe many years later.
My visit to Kelmscott, the old house on the upper Thames, so beloved of William Morris, is one such place. I visited Kelmscott on a beautiful day in May and was totally unprepared for the effect this gentle manor house and its garden had on me.
The rooks made a great din in the tall trees, the meadow grass danced in the breeze and the noise of the river brought a near perfect cacophony of sound - here was an English country garden - not grand but on a scale which is familiar and homely and which all gardeners can identify with.
Holker Hall nr Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, is a distinctive garden. Here the Gulf Stream and high rainfall provide excellent conditions for growing tender shrubs and Holker has a wide variety to delight and inform.
The original gardens date back to the 1720's when Sir Thomas Lowther and his wife Lady Elizabeth Cavendish owned Holker.
The gardens were formal with the obligatory clipped hedges. Extensive alterations were made in the late 18th century to create a natural landscape then in the early 19th century Lord Burlington sought the advice of Joseph Paxton and enlarged the gardens.
A conservatory was built on to the west wing of the house and formal gardens with terraces and balustrades were added.
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