I was lucky enough to be invited to Chelsea Flower Show this year - my first visit. It was all wonderful but the garden which really touched me was The Brontë Garden, created by Tracy Foster for the tourist agency, Welcome to Yorkshire. Not only did it win a gold medal, it also, deservedly, won the People’s Choice vote for the best Small Garden.
Tracy Foster aimed to ‘give a sense of the beauty and bleakness that epitomizes the wonderful moorland landscape,’ and succeeded beautifully. The word ‘garden’ is, perhaps, a misnomer. It is more an imaginative re-creation of the Yorkshire moors behind Haworth near Top Withens, the place said to have inspired Wuthering Heights. An old clapper bridge crosses a moorland beck, behind which grow alder and silver birch. You can just glimpse a mullioned window through the trees and the tangle of moorland grasses – perhaps from Wuthering Heights itself. The predominant colour is green but a few wild flowers peep through: bluebells, ragged robin and primroses, with occasional clumps of ling and bell heather.
The boulders in the beck are of local stone as are the stones of the dry stone wall surrounding the garden and the flat stones of the clapper bridge. They have been left as found, covered with moss and lichen. It is all wonderfully atmospheric.
A pair of spectacles on an open book lie on a rock. Near it, at one end of the clapper bridge, sits a small willow basket, its contents covered by a fringed shawl. We feel that Emily cannot be far away and will return at any moment.
It all reminded me how evocative landscape can be and how much natural beauty can inspire us as it inspired Charlotte, Emily and Anne.