A Visit to Anglesey Abbey, and a Garden in Winter

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For those of you who were recently, to put it in English terms, gutted by the latest episode of Downton Abbey, this one’s for you. We’ll take a soothing walk through a similar property, where no one gets hurt or (spoiler alert!) dies. (Also, let me just add that I think that show is just heartless. I mean, seriously!)  Alright, a little about Anglesey Abbey:

A passion for tradition and impressing guests inspired one man to transform a run-down country house and desolate landscape. At the age of 30, the future Lord Fairhaven began to create his first home. Wanting to inspire and surprise visitors, he created a spectacular garden with planting for all seasons and a cozy house in which to entertain. Life revolved around horse racing and shooting, and guests enjoyed 1930s luxury.” — from the National Trust website.


The house is closed at this time of year, but we were able to walk the very extensive (114 acre) grounds on Sunday. The sun was out, and although it was very cold, swarms of people had the same idea. It’s snowdrop season here, and Anglesey Abbey is a great place to enjoy these little harbingers of spring. The wildlife trails were so much fun, and it was magical to find tufts and fields of these sweet flowers popping out through the dead leaves, even in very shady places. There are over 200 different varieties here!


Tucked into these woods were also hundreds of hellebores, in a range of colors. They look so tropical to me, and it’s wonderful to see something so lush in winter.

There was so much to see that although we walked for a full three hours, we didn’t cover all of it! I look forward to going inside the buildings, but the outsides were really lovely.
The first thing I noticed was this impressive espaliered vine. Grapes, maybe?

I have a real thing for antique windows…
And garden gates. And gardens with statues in them… Imagine all of these roses in bloom!

There is also a grain mill on the property, which has recently been restored to full function. They sell their milled grain on site, and we were able to climb up the ladders three stories inside to check it all out.

Wikipedia explains one of the prominent features of the abbey grounds: One of Huttleston’s great achievements was the establishment of the garden at the house. In 1964 when Huttleston was still living Lanning Roper wrote a book entitled “The Gardens of Anglesey Abbey”. In the book he outlines the careful planning of this remarkable garden with its many vistas, avenues, rare and common trees, pools, statues and river temples. He describes the way in which huge areas of sky and mown grass have been used to balance symmetrical planting and how Broughton used the trees and shrubs to make groups of contrasting colour and foliage.

We were told by other visitors that the winter gardens were not to be missed. I honestly had no idea what a winter garden would look like! Well, it was pretty wonderful. Trees of differing bark colors were thoughtfully planted throughout, and a wide range of winter-flowering bulbs and shrubs filled it in. The smell was so heavenly, and of course unexpected at this time of year.


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I have been so focused on  getting through winter with a good attitude, that I have forgotten that spring will actually be coming rather soon. Seeing all of these flowers on a sunny day was just what we needed. From now on, it’s time to spot new life and growth all around us, as the days get longer (and my spirits get lighter.)  We’ll be back at Anglesey Abbey to see what else has popped up, and to show you the insides of those gorgeous buildings!

Has Spring showed herself to you yet?

P.S. If you like these kinds of tours, you should definitely check out my series on the Ickworth House!

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23 Responses to A Visit to Anglesey Abbey, and a Garden in Winter

  1. Utterly gorgeous! I’m eaten up with envy as usual. I cannot *wait* until you can go in and give us a tour.

    • Ariana Mullins February 20, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      It looks like the house will be open for visitors in mid-March, so just hang tight, Jennifer!

  2. Joanna February 19, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Those spring flowers are gorgeous, thanks for sharing. As for signs of Spring? The days are longer and that is about it. I live in Latvia but I am in Estonia for a few days a week and neither are showing any signs of anything other than winter, the skiers were out, the pavements are still covered in snow and the wind had a lazy feel to it – couldn’t be bothered to go around, just straight through.

    • Ariana Mullins February 20, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      Joanna, I like your imagery of the wind! Although my experience of summer here has been ridiculously bad so far, we do have a shorter winter season. There are bulbs popping up everywhere, even though we’ve had a lot of snow lately. The days getting longer is a BIG deal, though! Wishing you a warm-ish sunny day soon!

  3. Bonnie Rose February 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    So beautiful! We saw lots of the white flower buds this Saturday while we were out touring the Kennet and Avon canal here in Bath. Its really nice to see signs of Spring. I most definitely am adding that Abbey to our list of places to see.

    xx
    Bonnie Rose | The Compass Rose

    • Ariana Mullins February 20, 2013 at 10:30 am #

      I love your trip along the canals, Bonnie Rose. We have a lot of similar waterways, and hiring a boat to do some exploring is still really high on my list of things I’d like to do here. That’s something that is fun regardless of the weather (barring sleet or heavy rain) so we should do that soon!

  4. Anonymous February 20, 2013 at 2:21 am #

    Beautiful photos! Can’t wait to see the inside photos. As for signs of spring here in Alabama, the weather as usual can’t make up its mind so we have a few days of nice temps and then freezing cold again; and very often thunderstorms. I’ve noticed a few trees flowering. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was miserably cold on Easter morning; that has happened more than once. And by miserably cold I mean temps in the 30’s because after all this is the south 🙂
    Julie

    • Ariana Mullins February 20, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      I remember that in Portland every year in February, we would get some seriously warm, sunny days. Some were almost hot… Then it would turn back to winter for another full month. That almost made it harder, since I’d get my hopes up that I had made it through already!

  5. Anonymous February 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Yes, here in eastern TN the daffodils are close to popping open.

    I know what you mean about Downton Abbey. It’s getting too soap opera-y for me… what with people being jilted at the altar and people dying so conveniently (Lavinia, Sybil, Matthew) just to “uppen” the drama. Argh!

    I wish Masterpiece Theatre would stick to genuine masterpieces! Has anyone read “She Stoops to Conquer” lately? Awesomely funny read. Now why don’t they produce great stuff like that anymore? It doesn’t all have to be dreary tragic Victorian stuff.

    End of rant.

    • Ariana Mullins February 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

      I hear you!! Have you watch “Call the Midwife?” I love it. It’s based on true stories, and is so wonderful. I cry almost every episode, but it’s not the epic dramatic tragedies– it’s the heartbreaking nature of being human in this world, experiences that are so universal. I don’t mind that kind of sadness, actually, especially since it’s balanced with the joyful and wondrous parts of being human in this world.

  6. Rois February 20, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    The return of the assorted birds here is always the first signs that Spring is on her way.We’ve been greeted each morning by the chatter of the birds so I am hopeful Spring is just around the corner for us.
    My Spring bulbs have come up but no blossoms have popped open,that’s when I will get really excited for better weather.
    I did plant our peas the other day.Knowing me in a few days I will start to go and check them with the hopes of seeing little green shoots.

    Do you happen to know what the yellowly orange-ish flowers are in your photo above the crocuses? Those really caught my eye as something new to me.

    • Ariana Mullins February 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      Yes, our birds over here have been very chatty, as well! I love it!

  7. Anonymous February 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    @Rois – I think that is witchhazel.
    Laurel

  8. Anonymous February 20, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Ariana – Yes, we loved “Call the Midwife” but its over now. I think there were only about 8 episodes shown here. Is it still on there?

    I’m an EastEnders addict myself. Means that I can understand the cabbies when I’m in London, ha. Only I’m about 3 years behind in the episodes, so no spoilers!

    Laurel

    • Ariana Mullins February 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      I will have to look up EastEnders– I haven’t seen it yet! I didn’t know that Call the Midwife was over. I just started watching, and am on episode 2 of season 2 right now. I love it so much… Now I’m already bummed about it ending!

  9. Robin February 21, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    I love the winter garden. What a marvelous idea!
    My daffodils are up, Spring must be right around the bend!

  10. Hazel February 21, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    I love all the blossom photos. I have snowdrops and primroses in my garden and there are a few daffodils showing yellow in some sheltered spots in the village.

    I have to make a confession- I’m English and I’ve never seen Downtown Abbey! Shocking! I have discovered Call The Midwife though (rather late, I must find the first series). My 14 year old and I watch it together. She loves it and the moral dilemmas have been good to discuss.
    I have to say liking those two programmes won’t necessarily mean you’ll appreciate Eastenders! It’s full-on soap opera- I watched it occasionally as a student, but I can’t bear all the arguing, so haven’t seen it in years.

  11. Stephanie February 21, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures! It has always been my dream to live in England-who knows-maybe someday! In the meantime I’m so glad to have discovered your wonderful blog! And yes, I was gutted at the ending of Downton Abbey and am in awe of Call the Midwife. The finale or “Christmas Special” was one of the most moving shows I have ever watched. Just thinking of it makes me get misty eyed!

  12. Bonnie Rose February 22, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    I think I connected my Google + profile correctly to my profile. Ariana I hope you dont mind me testing out a comment to see if it allows you to reply to it. Thanks! xx

    Bonnie Rose | The Compass Rose

  13. Anonymous February 23, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    Ariana, thank you for the tour and pictures.Can’t wait to see what the interior of the house of looks like. Looks like spring is in the air already ? Lina

  14. Beth March 27, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    Loved this tour. How beautiful! I bet the inside is breathtaking.

    As for Downton Abbey…sigh. Great story lines but I’ve grown tired of every happy moment being followed by something devastating.

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    […] in the cold to visit some of the interesting places around us: Snape Maltings, Wyken Vineyards, and Anglesey Abbey.  I shared the extensive wardrobe required by my very own little English schoolgirl– this […]

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