Peace, serenity, silence, contemplation, quiet, these are the sort of qualities we look for in gardens. They are places where we can lose ourselves in a “green thought in a green shade”.
Mapperton has quiet and lovely places for contemplation, and benches specially placed for this. I don’t know how many people go down to the arboretum but at its top there’s a bench looking down at the swamp cypress. At the bottom is a bench for people to recover on before they start the journey back up the gardens. Beyond that, at the very end of the Spring Garden is a bench from which to look down the valley and at a noble deodar in the woods.
Of course, it’s not always quiet. The blackbirds’ alarm call is shrill; rooks and jackdaws are noisy, and so are strimmers. We can’t always get all the mowing down before people come at 11am. And cars bounce down the drive, motorcycles wizz down the lanes, aeroplanes are overhead. But do listen for the ravens’ distinctive croak.
Returning to that great poet Andrew Marvell, I will leave you with his take on sitting in a garden:
Here at the fountain’s sliding foot,
Or at some fruit tree’s mossy root,
Casting the body’s vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide;
There, like a bird, it sits and sings,
Then whets and combs its silver wings….