So, for weeks it seems we have been battered by gale force wind, soaked to the skin with sudden (and regular) downpours, and forced to hold on to that now much-hated winter coat.
But on Easter Monday, the sun decided to grace us with its presence for a while – and on a bank holiday no less! So my parents and I decided to grab this rare opportunity and ride over to the Shuttleworth estate in Bedfordshire to take a look at the renovations on the Swiss Cottage Gardens. Of course, by the time we arrived there the sun had decided to take an early siesta, but that failed to spoil our enjoyment.
I last visited the gardens some years ago in the height of summer, and since then vast sums have been spent on bringing the gardens back to their former glory. As the guide leaflet said, “no shrub has been left unturned”.
Thanks to winter keeping its icy grip, the full effects of this restoration have yet to be seen, but the quaint bridges were glossy with a new lick of paint, the glass conservatory ‘Grotto’ boasted a few unusual blooms, and the peacocks seemed to have had a new sense of pride instilled in them.
The gardens reflect a Regency fascination for landscapes that ape the serene countryside of the Alps. The garden visitor is at the forefront of all the designs, with wonderful vistas and views opening up as you thread your way through the garden. Scattered throughout are charming little follies and statues, which add to the natural beauty of the surrounding fauna. There is also a chapel, a tea house (which has a room cunningly hidden below for the preparation of food), and a little island where you can watch the ducks swim idly past.
One of the things I love best about spring is the appearance of daffodils. Their bright sunny happiness always brings a smile to my face, and although the garden has not yet fully embraced the new season, the bobbing heads of scores of daffodils hints at good things yet to come.
You can find out more about the history of the Swiss Cottage Gardens and its restoration work here.