A blog by Ms. Boe
While I bemoan the English’s inability to make decent hamburgers or french fries, one thing they excel in is gardening. I learned this on my first day in England, when I walked through Regent’s Park and visited Queen Mary’s Garden, and nothing I’ve witnessed since has convinced me otherwise.
The gardens were so photogenic that they started to convince me that I could make it as a nature photographer. Alas, I’m fairly certain that my scattershot iPhone pictures were not the most impressive photographs taken that day. Given how gorgeous and vivid the flowers were, it would actually be more notable if I’d ended up with bad pictures.
What might have been even better than Queen Mary’s Rose Garden was the secret garden we explored thanks to my friend’s mom’s recommendation. The garden isn’t actually secret, but the entrance looks like an alley compared to the entrance to Regent’s Park (above), so it felt like I was in on a local secret.
If the gorgeous arrangements and swimming ducks weren’t enough to make me want to set up camp permanently under the trees, the fact that I encountered only a handful of people (locals only) did.
The move from London to Cambridge did not upset my theory that the English do flowers better than anyone else. Just look at the caliber of flowers casually for sale outside of shops.
Or, just an iota of what the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens have to offer.
By far one of my favorite day excursions from Cambridge has been to Houghton Hall, built by England’s first Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, and still owned and inhabited by his descendants. I’ll admit, the feeling that Carson or Lady Grantham would be at the estate’s entrance to greet me enhanced the experience, but what really left an impression was the grounds. The gardens provide food for the estate, sculptures for the art enthusiast, and lots of little alcoves for the midnight trysts I imagined taking place on the grounds through the years.
Free-roaming deer, flowers, Downton Abbey-esque facades–I was all about Houghton Hall.
Even though I don’t have the photographs to justify the stunning grandeur of these gardens (I made a conscious effort to leave my phone in my purse so I could ‘be in the moment’), trust me, the English know how to garden.