Brilliant blooms at Bowood House in Wiltshire - A Capability Brown landscape at its best
|Glimpses of rolling countryside seen from the woodland garden at Bowood House in Wiltshire|
|Part of the charm of the rhododendron walks is the great swathes of bluebells at this time of year|
|The grounds at Bowood House are one of Capability Brown's best-known English landscapes|
But there's more to Bowood than the spring rhododendron walks and during the summer visitors come to see inside the house, which is open to the public and to enjoy 100 acres of pleasure grounds, set in the heart of a 2,000-acre estate with fine views over the surrounding countryside. Capability Brown's handiwork is evident in the sweeping landscape that drops away from the house to a large lake at the bottom of the hill. Few would imagine that prior to his involvement in the middle of the 18th century, there was little more than a stream at the bottom of the valley.
Bowood has seen both prosperity and poverty during the three centuries that the various Marquises of Lansdowne have lived here. The original house was purchased by the 1st Earl of Shelburne in 1754. He was succeeded by his son, the 2nd Earl (also the 1st Marquis), but it was the 3rd Marquis who made improvements to the property and added the upper and lower Italianate terraces overlooking the Capability Brown landscape on the south side of the house.
By 1955 the original house had fallen into such disrepair that the 8th Marquis decided to demolish it, leaving only the smaller property that remains there today. His son - the present Marquis of Lansdowne - first opened both house and grounds to the public in 1975 and is the first member of the family to live there permanently.
He is committed to improving the gardens and as recently as 2008, added the long herbaceous border on the eastern side of the surviving house. It is now a well-established feature of the garden, offering colour throughout the summer season. Current projects include the restoration of the private walled garden (left), which is open one day a month to visitors, (pre-booking required) who can enjoy a guided tour followed by lunch in the house restaurant (£27.50). As expected with work in progress, this part of the garden is being developed all the time, but particularly spectacular is the late summer wildflower meadow (below).
|The present Marquis added the herbaceous border on the eastern side of the house|
|The Italianate terraces at Bowood were added by the 3rd Marquis in the 19th century|
|The wildflower meadow in the walled garden at Bowood|