A Visit To Wordsworth's Garden
Talk about the magic of radio! Ketzel visits Rydal Mount, the last garden of 19th century English poet, William Wordsworth, without ever leaving home.
May 10, 2001 -- I admit it was incredibly strange to tour Rydal Mount by phone, and it's certainly no substitute for being there, but seen through the eyes of its head gardener Tony Braithewaite, and its curator, Peter Elkington, the garden really did come alive.
I never did get to tell you this: Wordsworth's hands-off approach to landscape design was extremely unfashionable. He worked his garden with "the invisible hand of art", used primarily native plants, and did his best to stay out of the way. All this put him at odds with the prevailing school of mid- to late-18th century landscape design, which set out to "improve" nature at all costs -- trim out the unsavory bits and create perfect, picturesque views.
Although you won't find much more than picturesque, tarted-up tourist copy if you research Wordsworth's gardens on-line (they're inextricably linked to Lake District tourism), these links may get you thinking about a visit should you be heading to the U.K.:
From the Visit Cumbria Web site you can visit Rydal Mount, Dove Cottage (his
first garden), and other Wordsworthian attractions.
Wordworth's Lake District offers a similar, if shallow, overview.
The Wordsworth Trust goes a little more deeply into the poet's life and
If you don't have any Wordsworth handy, check out The Complete Poetical
Finally, here's the info on the book that inspired our radio feature and provided us with these pictures:
Wordsworth's Gardens by Carol Buchanan
Texas Tech University Press
You'll find the title in their Spring/Summer Catalog
Or call 1-800-832-4042
Listening to audio requires the RealAudio
Copyright © 2003 National Public Radio, Washington, D.C.