In Nature

By Emma Kirkup

Whether in the depths of winter or the early days of spring, Stourhead is a gem of a garden and each time I visit there’s a completely different feel to the garden. This time, my trip was part of a VisitWiltshire partners’ familiarisation visit during the autumn with added bonus of a guided tour by Stourhead’s Head Gardener, Alan Power.

A group of around twenty of us gathered in the Spread Eagle courtyard just as the heavens decided to open on us. Dressed in our wet weather gear we were then greeted by Alan and walked up towards the House. Alan wanted us to approach the gardens in the way they were designed, from the perspective of how the family would have gone into them. To me, having visited Stourhead many a time before this was a complete surprise as we approached the gardens from a way I hadn’t ever really known existed!

Being October, the trees along the way were a vast array of rich colours. The different types of oak tree (I think there were 9 different species) were all slightly different shades and the acers broke up the oranges with their bright red colours.

Alan stopped at various points to highlight particular areas of interest and to give us an insight into the history of the gardens and how they were a leading example of 18th century gardening.

There were lots of ‘wow’ moments such as when we came across the ‘candy floss tree’ – a tree which had beautiful yellow leaves and gives out whiffs of candy floss. It even has very cute heart shaped leaves! Another ‘wow’ moment was when we got our first view across the gardens towards one of the temples. A view I’d never seen before. Everyone seemed to stop talking and just took in the views.

As Alan described to us, the gardens tease you with different views. We were all envious of him and his job – imagine working with views like that every day!

I think all of us agreed, it was a great tour and for me personally, I really loved seeing the gardens I thought I knew very well from a completely different angle!


Stourhead Gardens

Stourhead estate on the Wiltshire-Somerset border is the perfect day out for everyone. A breathtaking 18th century landscape garden with lakeside walks, grottoes and classical temples is only the beginning.



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