At a recent Summer School in Greenmount Agricultural College, one of the gardeners, Linda, reminded us of the way our senses can be stimulated by nature. I resolved to try and match our five senses to something at Mount Stewart and was amazed at how much I had to leave out.
I suppose the first sense visitors to the gardens are aware of is smell as they approach Reception. Having wondered at the curry scent of Escallonia resinosa as they come along the path, they are then overwhelmed by the wonderfully aromatic Mexican Orange Blossom.
Another fresh fruity smell can be experienced in the Italian Garden if you sniff the Moroccan Broom growing just below the terrace wall. Its proper name is Argyrocytisus battandieri, named after French botanist Jules Time Battandier, and the beautiful yellow blooms smell of pineapple.
Hearing is taken care of by our eucalyptus tree leaves rattling in the wind, the crunch of their bells under your feet, the swish of bamboo, or the quacking of the ducks as they gather at your feet looking for a snack.
How about touch? These beautiful bright lemon Achillea blossoms have leaves that are smooth and velvety between our fingers, just like the silk borders on our blankies that soothed us as children. The complete opposite is the extremely coarse texture of our cork tree bark.
As far as taste goes, we have kiwi fruit and wonderful herbs, one of the most popular is lavender.
A delicious addition to our tearoom menu is the lavender muffin. All our muffins are wonderful, but these new ones are yummy and HUGE. Baker Sharon infuses milk with Hidcote lavender blossoms which when added to her mixture gives these treats a very subtle flavour, and they are gluten free as well.
Lavender contains vitamin A, calcium and iron, so obviously these muffins need to be part of your diet. And for an extra treat don’t forget our lavender and raspberry ice cream, an award winning concoction in partnership with Glastry Farms.
And of course sight of the vibrant colours chosen by Edith Lady Londonderry, never fails to delight the eye. The summer gardens in full bloom are something to behold, and at all seasons there is always a new bloom to photograph.
A sixth sense, known as ESP, extra sensory perception, is a tingle that cannot be explained, an awareness of something that cannot be seen.
My ESP tells me that a visit to our beautiful gardens will fill up your senses and that you will have a wonderful time.