Garden and flower lovers adore England. The damp, mild climate makes the country ideal for roses, rhododendrons and azaleas. No matter how small the house, it seems each has a little flower garden in front of it. Mansion owners feel obligated to keep large gardens, formal clipped gardens, gardens with ponds, gardens with follies, buildings with no special purpose other than to embellish the grounds, gardens with gazeboes, puzzle gardens with mazes designed to lose the stroller, French gardens, Italian gardens, miniature and massive gardens. Garden shows are not only for horticulturists, they are high social occasions.
Kew Gardens in London is the biggest and best known. The Rothschild forest garden, about one hundred miles southeast of London in St. Exbury, is said to be the finest forest garden in the world. Best time to visit it and its thousands of rhododendrons and azaleas is between March and June. Sixty thousand garden lovers stroll the twenty-six-hundred-acre estate each year. Many stately homes include an orangerie and extensive greenhouse for growing plants, fruits and vegetables year-round.
Every history buff will thrill to walking Hadrian’s Wall. The wall, 1VA miles over hills and plains, from the North Sea to the Irish Sea, was built by the Emperor Hadrian’s legionnaires starting in 122 A.D. It marked the boundary between Roman domination of what is now England and the north, left to the wild Piets and Scots. The methodical Romans built a fort every five Roman miles and at every Roman mile, a milecastle, a small fort with barracks for a garrison of eight to thirty-two men. Turret watchtowers were built between the milecastles. Legionnaires built the wall, provincials manned it. Their enlistment period was twenty-five years.
What is left of the wall and many stretches of it are intact runs from Bowness-on-Solway on Solway Firth to Wallsend in the east. The Cheviot Hills and the Scottish border are farther north. The Lake Country is just south. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, near the eastern end of the wall, is the nearest large town. To reach the wall requires a car.