Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Brontë Garden at Chelsea Flower Show

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.

Elizabeth Hawksley




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10 Comments:

Blogger Nicola Cornick said...

What a stunning-looking garden Elizabeth, and a wonderful idea. I find the landscape around where I live very inspiring and I also love reading evocative descriptions in books that create such a strong sense of place.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Jan Jones said...

Beautiful, Elizabeth. I saw the Bronte garden on the television and am glad to know it was just as good in real life. I'm amazed you managed to see anything at all, though, with all those visitors there!

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

How wonderful, Elizabeth, and how marvellous to see it in the flesh. I grew up near to Haworth and Yorkshire remains home.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Hawksley said...

Thank you for your comment, Nicola. I think the all Brontes were good at evocative description - just think of Jane Eyre nearly dying on the moors as she flees Thornfield Hall; Anne Bronte's depiction of the countryside round Wildfell Hall; not to mention Emily's passionately intense vision of the moors around Wuthering Heights.

I was lucky, Jan. I was guest of one of the businesses that sponsored a garden and thus invited to breakfast at the Flower Show before the general public were allowed in. So it wasn't as crowded as it became later.

Lucky you, Amanda, growing up near Haworth. I lived in Wharfedale for a couple of years, which isn't too far away. Beautiful part of the world.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thank you for sharing this, Elizabeth. I live in Bronte country and love it, so to see it re-created at Chelsea is a real treat. Wish I could hsave seen it for myself, but your post is the next best thing!

10:50 PM  
Blogger haiiyun said...

While reading your blog it seems that you research on this topic very much. I must tell you that your blog is very informative and it helps other also.

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Jane Jackson said...

I watched Chelsea on TV and thought the Bronte garden captured the wild bleakness of the Yorkshire moors incredibly well. That the designer was able to do so in such a small space was truly remarkable. I envy you seeing it, and without the crowds as well!

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth Hawksley said...

Thank you for your lovely comments, Sarah/Melinda, haiiyun, and Jane.

Researching for the blog had its problems, haiiyun, as the plants were all given their Latin botanical names. It was a relief to find that the alarmingly-named lychnis flos-cuculi was just the humble ragged robin!

5:13 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

That sounds wonderful! I wish I'd gone now, but just didn't have the time. I love old-fashioned gardens, rather than the modern ones, even if they are very cleverly done.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Shenzore Wildes said...

One thing I like coming to this forum is that there is something that you can learn each time or some tip that will help you to make your work easier and simpler.

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8:03 AM  

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