A day at Bowood House

One of the benefits of being a member of the Garden Media Guild is that they organise visits to some fantastic gardens.  I cannot go to every visit (distance, time off work..... )  but if I can get along then I do.  When I saw they were going to Bowood House and on a date I was able to go, I hop, skipped and jumped at the chance.
Bowood is a bit of hike (two and half hours give or take) from where I live, but as ever I am happy to travel to interesting places.  It is the home of the ninth Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne and the property has belonged to the family since 1754.  The house has been through many developments through the generations; such as there were two houses on the site at one point (big house and little house) which were joined by a drawing room.  Following two World Wars, the big house had been used as a hospital and a school and it reached a stage in the 1950s when it was decided it was best to demolish it.   This is not an uncommon history, the wars took their toll at all levels.  The remaining 'little house' is not that little.  Bowood remains the family home and parts of it and the gardens are open to the public.
First stop on our visit was to the Woodland Gardens that are about one mile away from the house.  They have their own entrance and car park and are signposted.
We were shown around these gardens by Lord Lansdowne and it was very apparent that these gardens are very close to his heart.  He has overseen their development and talked us through the many special rhododendrons and other rare specimens in this thirty acre garden.  These gardens are an absolute delight, they are informal and naturalistic and perfect for a relaxing wander.  For many years I was not a huge fan of rhododendrons, I thought them blousy and loud.  I now think they are blousy and loud and I love them very much for this.
and the devil is in the detail, look at the colour of the reverse of these leaves.  They are just stunning.  It was going to Portmeirion and seeing the stunningly huge rhododendrons in the Gwyllt that showed me what a magnificent beast a rhodo can be.
Their beautiful trumpet open flowers are also perfect for bees and insects.  Yes I know there is not a picture of a bee in this flower, there should be but they kept moving.  Just know that the soundtrack to this garden is buzzing.
The gardens wrap around the family mausoleum.  A simple but grand Robert Adams building that has a commanding view over the countryside back towards the family home.  Yes I was too distracted by the view to take a picture of the building. 

The gardens are only open to the public for the rhododendron season, so from mid-April to June and they are well worth a visit.  
The scent from the bluebells wafted us along our way.
Then it was time to go to the main house and start at the Italianate Terrace.  This was a serious contrast to the relaxed Woodland Gardens.  We were now in controlled, tightly designed garden territory.  Regular readers will know I do love a good Italianate garden and this is (of course) a very good one.  The tulips were looking magnificent and the scent of wisteria kept filtering past on the breeze.
We stood and looked out across the Capability Brown landscape, which makes the perfect setting for the house.
We also admired the chequered lawn, which was the site of the previously mentioned Big House.
We then went on into the four acre Walled Gardens, that are not generally open to the public though you can take a group on a tour around them or ask if you can be added into a group tour.
The Walled Gardens are split into four.  They are immaculately maintained.

We saw a fraction of what there is on offer and so, as ever, I already know I need to return.

We had the most wonderful day, I have to give sincere thanks to Lord Lansdowne and to our guides for the day.  They were generous with their time and knowledge.  I also have to thank the Garden Media Guild for organising such a special day. 


  1. Glad that you had a wonderful time at Bowood House admiring the gardens. And it is true that rhododendrons can be quite a loud statement but in the right garden they can be perfect. The chequered lawn is also a really interesting feature of Bowood House. Thanks for sharing your photographs.


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