Dispatches From The English Countryside
From charming stone walls in Somerset to the gothic features of Salisbury, countless public and private gardens are spilling over with clematis, bluebells, yellow musk roses, and other blooming plants that make every spring in rural England more compelling than the last.
In the days leading up to the Chelsea Flower Show, Garden Collage took a trip to the English Countryside to visit a number of gardens and iconic landscape features– including Stonehenge and Stourhead, where Pride and Prejudice was filmed– and we unearthed several amazing finds along the way.
Late May is the time when rural England comes alive. Fields of yellow flax bloom over the English countryside like an ocean flooding the landscape with color. Cowslip, wild onion, and bluebonnets line quaint dirt roads that extend into the horizon for as far as the eye can see. The clouds hang low as local farmers set up roadside stands to sell their legendary English strawberries (some of the best we’ve ever had!) and incredible varieties of clematis cling to seemingly every thatched roof and stone wall in sight.
We found ourselves ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the landscape and constantly having to pull over the car in order to take in (and adequately instagram) the view. We found a hidden back road at Stonehenge that allows one to drive up behind a sheep farm and peer at the World Heritage Site through a field of green and yellow flax (that’s a photo above). Elsewhere, at the Stourhead Estate, we revived our penchant for Jane Austen as eye-poppingly gorgeous pink Rhododendron exploded across the estate, which was primed and pruned so perfectly that we felt like we were characters in Downton Abbey.
In Dorset, we stayed at a gorgeous midevil church that had been converted into a super-chic art-filled hotel, called At The Chapel. They made fresh flaxseed bread in the morning and lined the front door with wellies and distinctly-English umbrellas.
Yellow musk roses that only come out this time of year were everywhere in bloom; if we had driven through the same landscape in two weeks, they might be gone, and this is part of the magic. We caught the English countryside at the perfect time– cows were grazing in green pastures at Old Wardour Castle, and we discovered some incredible magenta primroses in bloom at Ark Farm estate. Purple and yellow wisteria was festooned on to the sides of nearly every home, all of which were made of stone and amazing thatched roofs that were dignified, stately, and beautiful in a way that seems culled from another era. The true purple lilac flooding these properties is also a dream to behold; English lilac that hasn’t been hybridized has the most incredible, authentic scent.
We visited the incredible Mapperton Estate, a gorgeous sunken garden in Somerset where hellebore and perfectly-manicured topiary looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland or The Secret Garden. Even the private homes we visited (thank goodness for friends in green places!) had amazing Lilac, Queen Anne’s Lace, and wild Daisies popping up en masse.
Garden Collage is back in London now for the Chelsea Flower Show, and we can’t wait to bring you the latest and greatest finds from that event– but until then, we’ll be dreaming of the lush blooms and casual dreaminess of the landscape we’ve just explored: a springtime beauty that is fit for a queen.