During my travels through the U.K. with friends, we stayed a few nights in the picture perfect Lake District, our accommodation being in Windermere, Cumbria.
We were now in true Wordsworth country.
DOVE COTTAGE – The little cottage is situated on the edge of the village of Grasmere in the heart of the Lake District. This was the place where William Wordsworth wrote some of the greatest poetry in the English Language. His sister Dorothy kept her famous ‘Grasmere Journal’. It was the Wordsworth home for eight years. Previously it had been an Inn called ‘The Dove and Olive Bough’. The Dove Cottage garden was a place of refuge, meditation and inspiration. It was, wrote Wordsworth, ‘the work of our own hands’. They planted flowers and vegetables, watched birds and butterflies and read, talked and wrote poetry. An entry in Dorothy’s journal from 1802 remarked upon daffodils near Ullswater and was the inspiration for Wordsworth’s poem “I wandered lonely as a cloud” in 1804.
RYDAL MOUNT AND GARDENS – in 1813 the family moved to much larger Rydal Mount between Ambleside and Grasmere and continued to rent this property for 46 years. Grasmere and Windermere Lakes can be seen from the fell-side terraces of Rydal Mount. William designed the layout of the four-acre garden and often said that the grounds were his Office even though he had a spacious writing room in the house. The garden remains very much as he designed it. It consists of terraces, including Dora’s Terrace which he and his wife Mary planted with daffodils in their daughter’s memory, rock pools and an ancient mound. There are rare shrubs and, in season, the daffodils, bluebells and rhododendrons produce a spectacular display of colour.
“O happy gardens! Whose seclusion deep, so friendly to industrious hours: and to soft slumbers, that did gently steep our spirits carry with them dreams of flowers, and wild notes warbled among leafy bowers.” William Wordsworth – ‘A Farewell’