Shepherds to Char-a-bancs
The Wordsworth Museum
Nov 2015 — 28
The Wordsworth's garden kept them well supplied with vegetables
Summer flowers bring splashes of colour to the garden behind Dove Cottage
Enjoy strolling through this semi-wild piece of Lakeland fellside
The views from the top of the garden are an indication of why Wordsworth's most inspired poetry was written during his time at Dove Cottage
Wordsworth wrote many of his poems whilst relaxing in his garden
Daffodils in April, bluebells in May, poppies in June... what will be flowering when you visit?
The garden (open, weather permitting), has been restored to the half wild state that he and Dorothy lovingly created from local plants and materials.
In 1799, a few days after moving into Dove Cottage, Wordsworth wrote:
D is much pleased with the house and appurtenances the orchard especially; in imagination she has already built a seat with a summer shed on the highest platform in this our little domestic slip of mountain.
Both William and his sister Dorothy contributed to the character of their garden . It was an expression of both their personal aesthetics and their practical need.
They took pleasure in making things grow, as well as from the garden's beauty and the culinary results and planted a variety of vegetables, including peas, three kinds of beans (scarlet runner, French and kidney beans), radishes, turnips, broccoli and among other vegetables, bistort, a flower eaten like spinach.
The Wordsworths had two main sources of plants for their garden: the fells around them, and their friends and neighbours. From these sources they acquired a great variety not only of flowering bulbs and perennials but also of ferns, mosses, and lichens.
Dove Cottage Garden Today
The garden has always been a mixture of planned plantings and the happy accidents all gardeners enjoy.
Today Dove Cottage Garden is a semi-wild garden planted naturally in the spirit of Wordsworth with native and cottage garden plants. Honeysuckles entwine Rosa Rugosa and climb the cottage walls. Ferns and ivy grow among rocks and in the crevices of the terrace wall. Native English primrose (primula vulgaris) root in tree stumps; the old well is surrounded by Osmundine fern and Helleborus orientalis. Native daffodils, bluebells, mosses and other plants referred to by the Wordsworth family in letters and journals still grow today.
Take time to wander around the garden that inspired some of the greatest poetry in the English language.
See the journal entry for the day when William and Dorothy saw the famous daffodils.
The Jerwood Centre is where our collection is stored under controlled conditions and cared for. If you would like to be shown around please phone before you arrive to check that someone is available.
Wordsworth enjoyed skating on the frozen lakes of the county in the depths of winter. Two very different pairs of his skates survive and can be seen during your visit.