Occasionally a garden really stops you in your tracks and completely seduces you. I found that immersion at Holehird Gardens in the Lake District.
Nestled in the fells overlooking Windermere is a 10-acre hidden gem run entirely by volunteers of the Lakeland Horticultural Society.
Steeped in history Holehird has connections with some prominent Victorians from Beatrix Potter, garden designer Thomas Mawson, Kew trained plant hunter William Purdom, 1897 Holehird owner, President of LHS and Lake District Preservation Society William Grimble Groves and John Macmillan Dunlop who constructed a large part of the Gothic revival mansion.
Founded in 1969 the Lakeland Horticultural Society (LHS) has grown to a phenomenal group of around 1600 members. Around 250 of those members are actively involved with the running of Holehird Gardens. Years of dedication and hard work has created an incredible all-season garden.
Holehird is a truly inspiring set up. Drawing from members with specialist knowledge, the volunteers take full responsibility for their own designated area, from propagation to planting to estate management.
The Lakeland Horticultural Society has recently been honoured with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service the highest award in the UK for voluntary service. Congratulations!
As well as being the 'home' of LHS, Holehird is a horticultural centre for plant science and practice and research into growing conditions around the Lakes. The society produces many publications, hosts a MET office approved weather station, an extensive horticulture library for members, a plant database and conducts seasonal garden tours.
I did purchase the majority of publications available. An invaluable wealth of plant information, society trips, history and photos. To read the full history of Holehird over the past forty years buy 'A Illustrated History,' The Lakeland Horticultural Society. Such a large number of people involved in saving, restoring and moving Holehird into the next era.
The passion and dedication from the volunteers was infectious and I was lucky enough to speak with quite a few whilst they worked. It was great to hear personal stories about gardening together, aspirations and developments in the borders. Gardening certainly brings people together!
The history of the garden developments has been a long one. In 1969 the LHS agreed a lease from the Holehird Trust for two acres of rock garden, grassy slopes and orchard and have been building on that ever since. The garden now includes a walled garden, succulent house, alpine houses, rock gardens, herb garden, rolling countryside with panoramic Lakeland views, mature trees, rose garden, spring bulbs, sumptuous herbaceous borders, seasonal walks, Gunnera pool and cascade, various potting sheds and propagation plant trial areas.
Holehird is home to four national plant collections: Astilbe, Meconopsis, Daboecia and Polystichum. It also holds the Lakeland Hydrangea collection as well as various RHS plant trials including a very exciting autumn-flowering gentian trial.