10 curiosities in the Lake District’s gardens

The Rhododendron Tunnel at Mirehouse
The Rhododendron Tunnel at Mirehouse on the shores of Bassenthwaite

Gardens are one of my favourite things to spend time photographing, so I’ve visited quite a few around the Lake District over the years. I find myself particularly drawn to anything a bit unusual, and so for this post I thought I’d put together a list of some of the most interesting garden curiosities I’ve come across so far!

1. Inside the beech hedges at Levens Hall, near Kendal

The beech hedges at Levens Hall are fascinating, and best enjoyed on a sunny day when, if you pass through the hedges’ shaped archways, the sun illuminates the leaves and shows off the magnificent limbs that have fused together within. Read more about the gardens at Levens Hall…

The beech hedges at Levens HallInside the Beech hedges at Levens Hall2. The Judge’s Wig at Levens Hall, near Kendal

Grown from Yew, you can admire this lovely piece of topiary from the outside and within, where you can look up to see the texture of the branches above your head. Read more about the gardens at Levens Hall…

The Judge's Wig topiary at Levens HallInside the Judge's Wig yew at Levens Hall3. The Giantess at Dalemain, Ullswater

Found in the semi-wild garden below the house, the Giantess sculpture slumbers peacefully in the shadows by Dacre Beck. She does look content, doesn’t she?!

Sleeping Giantess sculpture

The Giantess slumbers at Dalemain

4. The Tufa House at Holehird, Windermere

I love the slate water feature at the rear of this lovely alpine house. The alpine house would be easy to miss, but is well worth seeing on a tour of Holehird’s gardens. Read more about Holehird gardens…

The Tufa House at Holehird5. The Rhododendron Tunnel at Mirehouse, Bassenthwaite

There’s something most exciting about a tunnel, and this one is well worth seeking out on a walk around the grounds. Right outside the exit (or entrance, depending on which direction you’re heading in) you’ll also find the historic snuff garden! Read more about Mirehouse…

The Rhododendron Tunnel at Mirehouse

The Rhododendron Tunnel at MirehouseThe Snuff Garden at Mirehouse6. The stone circle at Mirehouse, Bassenthwaite

Situated in the peaceful walled Bee Garden, this miniature stone circle is another fun feature to see on your visit to Mirehouse. Read more about visiting Mirehouse…

The Round Table at Mirehouse7. The Great Holker Lime at Holker Hall, Cark-in-Cartmel

This enormous Lime at Holker was one of fifty trees to be designated a ‘Great British Tree’ in June 2002, in celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. With a girth measuring 7.9 metres, it’s a magnificent sight! Read more about the gardens at Holker Hall…

The Holker Great Lime8. The chapel, Larch Cottage Nurseries

The chapel at Larch Cottage Nurseries is set in private gardens belonging to the nursery’s owners, and opens for charity on selected days only (see the nursery’s website for details). I’d highly recommend you visit to see both the gardens and the chapel for yourself. Read more about Larch Cottage Nurseries…

The chapel at Larch Cottage NurseriesInside the chapel at Larch Cottage Nurseries9. The Grot, Rydal Hall

I’d visited the Mawson gardens at Rydal Hall several times before realising that this gorgeous little viewing station is tucked away by the river overlooking the lower Rydal waterfalls, and that it can be accessed from the wild area at the bottom of the gardens. Incredibly it’s Britain’s earliest known purpose-built viewing station, so if you’re visiting Rydal Hall, this is an absolute must-see. Read more about the gardens at Rydal Hall…

The Grot at Rydal HallThe Grot at Rydal Hall10. The Ice House at Brantwood

I wrote about Brantwood for the blog about two years ago, and one curiosity that stays in my mind is the ice house in the grounds near the house. Since my visit, the ice house has been opened to the public, and, equipped with hard hat, you can now take a look inside. Apparently John Ruskin had ice kept there for the benefit of poorer neighbours during times of illness, and it would have been taken from Coniston or local tarns. As so often happens with good ideas though, it didn’t work as well in practice as in theory, and there was a lot of water come the spring! Read more about Brantwood and its gardens…

The Ice House in the grounds of BrantwoodHave I missed one of your own favourite garden curiosities in the Lake District? If so, let me know, and share your garden recommendations with other readers of the blog by leaving a comment below!

One Comment

  1. There’s so much to enjoy in the Lake District for gardening enthusiasts. I hope this post will have inspired you to visit one or two gardens while you are here!

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