It was a beautiful morning in Dorset… pale sunshine, filtered mist. This blog (you’ll be glad to hear) is one of those which has not very much to say – but a lot to look at.
I walked down to the Lake while Charlie bustled around in the flower room, getting ready for the pop-up… The morning was stunning. We had a lazy breakfast, and tea with our neighbours, and pottered around, but that’s basically all we’d done yesterday too. Charlie said… “I think we need to do something”. And I thought that we should go to Stourhead.
For most the readers, this – I suppose the most famous English landscape garden of all time – will probably need no introduction. As it happened, it was Charlie’s first visit, and the first time I’d been in years. I well remember walking around, in February or March, a freezing, empty, closed-up Stourhead House (and Park) when, I suppose it must have been eight or nine years ago now, I was designing the National Trust range of plaster cornices (which you can buy from Stevensons of Norwich). I hadn’t been back since that magical cold day.
Everything was looking beautiful, the first hint of autumn colour appearing in the trees.
We started in the walled garden, which is just about perfect, and has provided Charlie with the evidence he needs that next year he’s going to grow our veg down the slopes, not along it.
The Pelargonium house.
The cutting garden.
The house is delicate and dolls-house like, despite its classical severity, but we didn’t go in this time.
The first glimpse of the classical landscape is breathtaking. The grotto, complete with statues of water nymphs and Neptune at the source of the lake:
With its startling view across the shimmering water.
I loved the ferny mossy roof of the grotto.
Across the water are glimpses to the Temple of Flora, but we were on our way next to the Pantheon.
Its cool grey moss-encrusted facade is perfect. Reflections were insane.
And then, our favourite of all; the Temple of Apollo.
The trees were a deep vivid green.
And then last, the Temple of Flora, which is a perfect gem; I suppose this is the building you would like to take home in your pocket.
On a pane of glass, this beautiful signature.
The view back to the Pantheon must be one of the most sublime in Europe; the whole place a dream landscape – as if you have tumbled into the title page of a book by Rex Whistler. It has an unreality that I find amazingly compelling.
It’s quite something to take in on a Sunday afternoon walk in the woods. We left happy and sped back to London and a new week.