New Vigor to the Mind

It’s no secret that I keep a bag packed and am always looking ahead to the next trip, but just now I’m especially excited because I’ve planned a garden tour for June 2015 that includes a visit to some of my favorite gardens in the UK, plus a handful of those still at the top of my “must see” list. Repeats include Bodnant, one of the finest and best-loved gardens in Britain, and Levens Hall, home of 300-year old towering topiary and current head gardener Chris Crowder, an innovator who keeps the ancient landscape fresh and fun.

Chris points out a tree planted at Levens Hall by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.

Chris points out a tree planted at Levens Hall by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.

And I’m over the moon about finally visiting Gresgarth Hall, the garden of designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd; Chatsworth, the “Palace of the Peaks;” and Scampston Walled Garden, designed by the master Dutch plantsman, Piet Oudolf; to name but a few.

Seneca said, “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind,” and St. Augustine noted, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” How true. My favorite travel quote, however, is from Susan Heller, who advised, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”

To see the full itinerary of this garden adventure, click here.

16 thoughts on “New Vigor to the Mind

  1. Julie

    Marian, this looks like a really wonderful tour, June is a lovely time to visit too. I see you are in York, Harlow Carr isn’t far from there, one of the 4 RHS gardens, that maybe would be worth a visit if time.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Julie–One of my first blogs was about Harlow Carr and I still think it is one of my best:

      It’s a fabulous garden and I had such a good time! There are so many worthy gardens in England, it’s very difficult to pick just a few for a tour. What I would really like to do is spend the summer and try to see them all, but I’m afraid my resources and my husband’s patience would run out long before then.

  2. susurrus

    Hi Marian – I’m from the North West of England, so I can wholeheartedly vouch for the strength of your tour. I’ve been lucky enough to have had the chance to visit many of the gardens you list, both of the cities and also the Garden Centre, which is one of the UK’s very best. You’ve got lots of my personal favourites here, including Gresgarth Hall, Arley Hall and Wollerton Old Hall. I’ve added a link to my galleries below, which include pictures from the first two of these gardens.

    It’s a superb, well-researched schedule and you already know what a wonderful time you’ll have. Take your camera, extra batteries and a charger: you’re going to need them! I look forward to your pictures.


    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Jessica–I had a wonderful visit to Cornwall and Devon in 2007. There are many interesting and beautiful places in the world, but as a gardener, Britian will always be my favorite.

  3. Chloris

    It sounds like a great tour and June is a wonderful time to come. Gardens here are at their loveliest in June. I grew up near Chatsworth so I think that is particularly worth visiting and maybe you will have time for a little walking in the Peak District whist you are there.

  4. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Chloris–Lucky you! I think I’ve watched every video on Youtube about Chatsworth and/or the Peak District and I’m enthralled. I can’t wait to see it for myself. Also, I’m glad you said what you did about June, because many Americans want to travel to England in May for Chelsea and a tour, when really, the gardens are so much nicer four to six weeks later when the summer perennials are making a show. Early September, I’ve found, is also especially nice. Most of the tourists are gone and the late summer/early autumn plants are spectacular. Great Dixter, in particular, is at its best then.

  5. Pauline

    Good to hear that you are coming over here again. I love Levens Hall, such a different garden to others. Many years ago, when I was learning how to carve wood, Chris Crowder’s father was learning in the same class. His son had just taken on the job of Head gardener at Leven’s Hall and he was so proud of him!

  6. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Pauline–If you’ve had the chance to meet Chris then you know the high regard is well-earned. I’m looking forward to seeing him and Levens again next year. When I was there last, the garden was stunning but it was a really dreary day. Fingers crossed for better weather. And a nice cuppa with a tasty fruit tart in the Bellingham Buttery, which is also out of this world.

  7. Christina

    Even though I’m English I don’t know all the gardens you are going to visit, but Chatsworth is wonderful for the house as much as the gardens. You’re not far from Hardwick Hall which is also worth a visit, but as you say there is so much to see. June is a great time to visit.

  8. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Christina–Chatsworth has been on my “must see” list for a long time. I’m so excited to finally have a visit in the works. Alas, Hardwick Hall will have to be my reason to go back another time…not a bad problem to have!


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