Flowers from two of Cumbria’s best-loved gardens will be selected over the next few weeks for a special event in Westminster Abbey.
The flowers will be made into two wreaths from the gardens at Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage, two of William Wordsworth’s homes in the Lake District.
The wreaths will be laid in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey at a special ceremony next month, marking the 250th anniversary of the poet’s birth.
They are being made by Rydal Mount guide and artist Clara Li-Dunne who has been selecting appropriate flowers and foliage – including some of Wordsworth’s favourites.
The ceremony will launch a year of celebrations marking the 250th anniversary, following evensong in the Abbey, on Saturday March 7. There will be a reading by the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, and the Rydal Mount wreath will be laid by the poet’s great-great-great grand-daughter, Susan Wordsworth Andrew.
Clara, originally from Hong Kong, has a degree in fine art and is a qualified teacher. She has worked as a guide at Rydal Mount for nearly nine years, and will be choosing the flowers with head gardener Helen Green.
The wreaths will be based on 12-inch diameter frames and will comprise seasonal flowers and plants from both gardens.
Daffodils will almost certainly feature, says Clara, though Wordsworth’s favourite flower, the celandine, is tiny: “We would need hundreds of them.”
Clara will use the foliage of the evergreen shrub laurel, which was a favourite of William Wordsworth, and is said to have been grown from a clipping taken from the park containing the tomb of Virgil near Naples.
“There will be choisya, sometimes known as Mexican orange, lilies, and especially ferns, which Wordsworth loved,” says Clara, who made a Christmas wreath for display at the house last year.
The Westminster Abbey ceremony will be attended by members of the Wordsworth family, friends and writers, members of the Wordsworth Trust from Dove Cottage, and the poets-in-residence who will be working at Rydal Mount during the year.
Said Rydal Mount curator Emily Heath: “It will be a really memorable occasion, a good celebration of Wordsworth’s life and work.”