In glorious weather our picture editor Nancy Murgatroyd visited Lewis Cottage Garden near Spreyton, which reopened to the public over the May bank holiday weekend. Here she reflects on the restorative power of  a beautiful garden after a difficult year.

Summer 2021 and our lives seem to be tentatively opening up after more than a year of pain, restrictions and lockdowns. We suffer the seesaw of information, infections are down, there is a new variant of Covid, the opening up might stall, vaccinations are going well. People generally don’t thrive on uncertainty and disruption and sadly there is a lot of it about. Is it safe to do this, that or the other? Are we getting back to ‘normal’, what does ‘normal’ feel like these days?

Of course, the weather hasn’t helped; gales, late frosts, dark days and incessant rain. At least the weather was glorious during last spring’s lockdown, or is that just my imagination? I’m sure it wasn’t this bad. As the American poet Longfellow said, “Into each life a little rain must fall” and that seems to apply to our lives and our gardens.

So, what a delight to visit a lovely garden invigorated by the rain and luxuriating in much needed sunshine. So therapeutic, not only the carefully considered vistas and fresh summer planting but a chance to sit and listen to birds and gaze around. If you are a gardener, it is a rare luxury to just sit and enjoy without worrying about the next job you need to tackle.

A lovely garden invigorated by rain

Lewis Cottage Garden is open, under the National Garden Scheme, for two weekends this year but groups are welcomed at other times. Through the summer and autumn many other gardens will be open under the National Garden Scheme.  No doubt they will be equally restorative and a chance to take a peep a the amazing results of someone else’s labours.

Nancy buying her ticket sold in aid of charity

At Lewis Cottage there were people wandering and studying the plants with an eye on the plant nursery for something to take home. Some were obviously relishing a relaxed chat in the sunshine and fresh air.  

Then there were the home made cakes, a delicious array beautifully decorated, hard to decide which one to choose, chocolate, walnut, carrot cake, I could go on.

Which cake to choose?
Delicious teas are served on the lawn

My visit reminded me just how worn down I had been feeling and how I really needed just a few little treats to make a difference. I don’t feel like rushing out to rediscover my new normal or recapture the old one. However much I would like to fly off somewhere and meet up with long lost friends, I think I can get lost in the joy of a conversation or the beauty of a garden, perhaps in a way I did not before.

Getting lost in the beauty of a garden

I feel reflective, selective, just emerging and searching for a new balance, a beautiful garden in the sunshine was just what I needed. Gardens have been recognised through history for their therapeutic qualities but my favourite quote comes from Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

Gardens are recognised for their therapeutic qualities

Michael, Penny and Richard took on Lewis Cottage 20 years ago and have created the lovely garden you see today. Previously the house belonged to Tom and Olive Stevens and there is another interesting story!

You can follow Lewis Cottage all through the year with Richard Orton’s monthly articles on this website or buy plants here.

A magnificent Wisteria

Lewis Cottage Garden will next be open to the public on 26 and 27 June.

May 25, 2021

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