May’s Letter from the Curator (2018)

A Tour Around the Gardens of Tutbury Castle

Dear Friends

I am a bit late with this one- sorry, it’s been hectic!

As I look out of the window today the castle stands in its glorious grounds and we are beginning to see the beautiful sunshine and feel the warmer weather on our faces. Everywhere always seems so much more cheerful when the sun shines and the birds sing.

The gardens have been lovingly made to complement the elegance and tranquility of the castle and its ruins, as well as to echo through the ages and recreate the beauty which has grown here from years gone by.

The Queens Garden houses beautiful roses mainly in red and white. Many of these are from friends who have lost loved ones and whose memory now lives on in this beautiful peaceful setting. The rose is a symbol of love and passion, the ancient Greeks and Romans associated roses with Aphrodite and Venus, goddesses of love. The rose was used for hundreds of years to convey messages without words, they also represent confidentiality. In fact, the Latin expression means ‘something told in secret’, and in ancient Rome, a wild rose was placed on the door to a room where confidential matters were being discussed.

Let’s not forget the medieval herb garden. Not only can the herbs look as pretty as the flowers but the smells are quite delightful too. We have Cowslip, Borage, Chives and several species of mint to name but a few.

As we stand next to the herbs, the aroma of lavender permeates the air. Lavender represents refinement, grace, and elegance and holds a sacred place in nature, and with its violet flowers is often considered the most delicate and precious of all. Just perfect for the castle.

The flower boxes are all brimming with violas and pansies and seem to follow you with their eyeshadowed eyes and smiling faces. Purples, blues, oranges and yellows clash but somehow all crowd together and create a picture of pure beauty. Did you know that the Tudors loved to eat flowers? In Victorian England, the pansy flower was used for secret courting and had a hidden message just like the rose mentioned above. Any display of love or passion was severely frowned upon and so to communicate to potential romantic partners the pansy was employed. It was placed in what was called a tussie mussie which was a bunch of herbs wrapped in a doily with some flowers in the middle- I had one for my blessing. The pansy flower was used to convey love – not easily expressed in Victorian

England such as – I’m feeling amorous towards you, or I am thinking of you or I have thoughts of you or I’m missing you, but always it was about one person thinking of another.

Please do come and have a walk around the gardens, smell the beautiful aromas from the flowers and enjoy a cup of tea (and a piece of cake!) in our beautiful tea room. You will receive a very warm welcome and our Guides are always on hand to tell you about the history, and secrets of the castle.

Please have a look at our future events – there is something for everyone.

I look forward to seeing you all.

Kind regards, Lesley, Curator