by AnneWareham on September 16, 2016

Post image for Sitting

We just had a short break at Dartington Hall.


View across the Tilt Yard from one of many seats.

We had a great time, and not just because we went to see our good friends at Hill House Nursery (where amongst other good things, Charles had what he describes as the ‘best Victoria Sponge I have ever had‘).

Neither was it because of the breakfasts, which were a bit grim and a bit early for such an expensive hotel. But we happily forgave all that, and even them giving away the table we booked for supper – because it is such a wonderful place to be.


He did look happier much of the time….

And the best bit, we agreed, was that we were able to just be there, quietly enjoying our surroundings. The garden cum estate is beautiful and we had good weather, and we were able to go and sit in the garden and read in the sunshine.


See? Gives you a glow….

Now the point of all this is not to make anyone jealous, or to enlighten you as to why I happily holiday in the UK. It’s just to raise the question: do you ever just go and sit and read in an open garden? Forget the garden tour, the checking out of plants, even the Victoria Sponge – just sit, read, and occasionally look up and enjoy. What a joyous thing for a garden to offer. Especially if it’s silent (the yelling children vanished mercifully quickly).

So – here’s a thought. You must know someone with no interest in gardens or gardening. Suggest a quiet read in a garden to them as a restorative and delightful way to spend an afternoon. Let’s extend the best garden pleasures to the rest of the world.


Should have removed the tissue box…

O – and if you know of any other places with such good places to sit and read, indoors and out, we’d love to hear. Too many places still seem to expect visitors to vacate the premises during the day.


Portrait Anne Wareham copyright Charles Hawes

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Julieanne Porter September 16, 2016 at 5:12 pm

I used to love just sitting outside reading, or just sitting outside. Really something I should do more of, including in my own garden. Good reminder.

AnneWareham September 16, 2016 at 5:23 pm

You really should. Telling you. Xxx

Lou Nicholls September 16, 2016 at 5:48 pm

I think i should make more time for this, ive got out of the habit!
I used to spend many a happy weekend/evening doing just this but not having my own garden made it more difficult. This has recently changed and my new home has a garden once again, this makes me very happy!

AnneWareham September 16, 2016 at 9:27 pm

We maybe need to give ourselves permission to do this in other people’s gardens?

The Chatty Gardener September 16, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Great idea. When I was a student without access to a garden I always used to sit in parks to read and revise – first Cardiff and later Kew. It always seemed to make the work more bearable. I often write outside now – weather permitting!

Pat Webster September 16, 2016 at 10:16 pm

It’s nigh on impossible to sit and read, or simply to sit, in one’s own garden. The idea is close to heresy, in fact. But in someone else’s — bliss.

AnneWareham September 17, 2016 at 8:28 am

Totally possible. You just need the right psyche for it. Without it, you may be right. Xxxx

Kate Patel September 17, 2016 at 7:04 am

I hear Barnsley House garden is an interesting place to sit and stare. The drawback is that in summer they’re often busy with big wedding parties. Thanks for reminding me, if only to try it for lunch one day.

AnneWareham September 17, 2016 at 8:30 am

I never did like that garden, but if you do and there is no event on…Disappointing if you planned to read and then there was though. Joy of Dartington, I suppose, is how big it is.

Nicole September 18, 2016 at 9:42 am

while visiting Beth Chatto’s garden, a (great) while ago, I talked with an elderly lady who told me she would come nearly every day (weather permitting) to sit and read quietly , book or newspaper or magazine, whatsoever . I must say I hardly do that as there are no gardens near my place where I could, and when I go a long way then I want to make the most of the visit ! but when visiting a garden I quite often sit and enjoy the place the view, the scents, the noise of the wind in the trees (no yacking children ….)

Jo Turner September 18, 2016 at 5:01 pm

What a good reminder of the pleasures of reading in a garden or green space. As with most gardeners, I find it impossible to just sit in my own garden, yet it can be so delightful to delve into a book in someone elses…Modern life definitely frowns upon such ‘unproductive’ ways of spending time, yet in previous eras, quiet contemplation, reading and writing were pursuits to be encouraged and esteemed, if only for (mostly) those with the luxury of leisure time. Your post has reminded me how pleasant and restorative the act of reading, and just ‘being’ in a garden or park can be…

Cherie Southgate September 25, 2016 at 6:59 pm

I’ve always thought reading and gardens go hand in hand, I used to lie on my stomach revising in my mums back garden so that probably where it started. I’ve also lived in cities/ towns where I’ve had no garden and have sought out the green spaces to relax and read in.
Last year when we were in Ely I came across a lovely public garden beside the river Cam that had some great reading places, though it was only quiet when the children weren’t in the play area. I saw many folk there soaking up the atmosphere with the book of newspaper at lunchtime. Our boat was moored beside it so the garden had become my garden for a day or two. Being rather addicted to waterside places I think any garden with a good pond, lake, stream or river running through it deserves to be sat in and if your reading the places seems to seep in under the skin and stay with you. Rousham – a William Kent design – is especially good for this, it’s not busy, it doesn’t have a tea room or other facilities and the green of the place is very soothing.

AnneWareham October 5, 2016 at 12:13 pm

I wonder if people read more in public parks than private-open-to-the-public gardens? Let’s hope though that this encourages people to enjoy themselves that way here!

Hoe hoe grow September 27, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Does reading in a summerhouse count ? I do lots of that. I get so restored that I have to lie down on the floor and fall into a deep and dreamless sleep. Is that taking things too far ?

AnneWareham October 5, 2016 at 12:15 pm

That’s fine as long as you don’t come here in a coach party and then fall asleep. We lost someone from a party this year and it was a bit terrifying! (they did turn up eventually, after a fraught search.)