Minterne Gardens: a piece of paradise in Dorset


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Mother Nature has been kind to me in many ways; one of which is the fact that I was born on the beautiful South Coast of England, in the equally lovely county of Dorset, which is where I still live. Although I’m based by the sea (couldn’t live any further inland; I tried that when I went to university, and hated it) there is so much countryside to explore, most of which is only thirty minutes to an hour away.  There is also so much of my own fair county which I have yet to explore, and I’m constantly surprised by how much wonder there is in one place.

Yesterday was another of these discoveries as I set out early with my family to visit Minterne Gardens, near Dorchester. It was still quite hazy when we left the, but as we drove deeper into the Dorset countryside, the sun was beginning to break through and the temperature was warming up quite nicely.  As we made our way to our destination we passed fields of green and yellow, pretty villages and inviting tea rooms.  It was quite easy to find Minterne Gardens and free parking is opposite St Andrews Church, which is next to the entrance to the gardens.  It’s quite a small parking area, so I imagine it would get full quite quickly at the height of summer, especially because Minterne Magna is also the starting point for those who wish to view the Cerne Abbas Giant.

It only costs £5 to enter, which is an absolute bargain, considering the amount of flora on display, and the birdsong which accompanies your stroll through the Capability Brown inspired landscape, taking in the array of colour and the fragrance all around you. On your way to the start of the gardens you will pass the ideally situated Minterne House, which is not open to the public, but on Spring Bank holidays you can have tea and cake on the terrace.  There are public toilets towards the beginning of the route through the gardens, but wheelchair access around the grounds would be quite difficult as many of the paths are uneven.

What struck me most about the 1.5 miles of paths through the Himalayan landscape were the vibrant pinks, reds, yellows, purples and whites which greeted you around every corner, especially at the moment as the Rhododendrons are still in bloom, although starting to go over. I hope to go back in October and admire the trees in their autumnal glory as well, which will involve a lot of stopping and snapping with my camera; it could take a while to get round that day.  You could easily spend several hours pootling along the paths, marvelling at the variety of plants and the consideration taken in their arrangement, enabling every species to thrive and shine.

As I said, nature has been kind to me in many ways, and being able to walk around such gorgeous scenery on a summer’s day with family, taking photos and listening to birds singing all around me, was just about perfect and a few hours I’m very grateful for.




The Other Election


One of my earliest memories is being woken up early in the morning by the hum of a milk float and a Blackbird singing outside my window.  I’d lie there, listening to the sounds of the world starting to stir around me, and half hope my mum would forget to wake me for school.

The familiar, often intricate song of our garden birds has continued to comfort me over the years, and even the sometimes harsh sounding call of Seagulls is a welcome home, back to the sea.  I still find it strange to hear them further inland, and when I was at university in a city far away from the ocean, the sound of seagulls made me homesick and sad.

Ironic then that years later, I live in a flat quite close to the sea, and can sometimes be woken up very early in the morning by Seagulls calling to one another just outside my window; not quite such a nostalgic sound at 5am!

More often than not though, it’s the smaller, garden birds I hear, chattering away to each in the trees and bushes of the garden outside, which is a more peaceful and smile-inducing sound, if there can be such a one.  Yet, I can’t help but smile, if ever so slightly, when I hear birds sing.  I love walking through the countryside and hearing only that and the crunch of leaves under foot, with just the click of my camera to interrupt the natural flow of sounds.

So yesterday, I voted for my favourite bird.  Well, to be honest, I voted for two; perfectly able to do so as they record your email address.  So, my first vote went to the Robin, primarily in honour of my maternal grandmother, who loved them, as I do too.  My second went to the Blackbird for its beautiful song, which used to wake me from my childhood slumber many years ago.

So, please follow the link below and vote for Britain’s favourite bird.  Also, if you’re feeling a bit stressed and tired mid-week, then follow the second link to a wonderful programme on the BBC iplayer called Dawn Chorus: The Sounds of Spring; just sit, watch or listen, and relax.  Let me know if you do either, or both.