Dances with Dahlias at Anglesey Abbey


Anglesey Abbey in Lode, Cambridgeshire is holding its annual Dahlia Festival. It runs until 4th October. Even if you are not a big dahlia fan (I hate pompoms for instance), it is a fun focus for a visit, because of the bright colours and imaginative way in which they have created the displays around the lovely grounds.

There are large decorated dahlia balls in jewel-like colours hanging down from the tree branches. The balls dance in the wind and children prance beneath them trying to reach them.


My favourite installation was the dahlia flotilla in the canal leading to Lode Mill:


Dahlia studded duckweed in the Lode mill race

The flowers have become studded in the Lombardy poplar reflections in the mill race. The scene had a definite pre-raphaelite feel to it; rich coloured blooms floating in the weed infested water. You could imagine Ophelia floating along side.

Ophelia by John Everet Millais

Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais

Further on, marching across the rough grass beyond the formal lawn in front of the house, was the Dahlia Line. At the beginning of the festival, in a piece of interactive Landart, people were invited to chose and add a dahlia to a growing line. One thousand little vases/test-tubes have been pushed into the ground in a line, but the colour pattern and evolution of that line was determined by the participants. Here it is, starting at the lawn edge:


The beginning of the Dahlia Line

Then extending off into the rough grass, as far as the Daffodil Walk on the far side of the meadow.


The Dahlia Line marching across the rough lawn, down the ditches and up the other side

The house is also liberally decorated with floral works of art, both inside and out, but there are no pictures I am afraid. My camera doesn’t like the gloom.

The famous curved Dahlia Garden was planted as a spectrum again this year. The curve has been designed so that you can only see the whole border from one point on the curve, so you don’t ever get to see the complete rainbow in one view. That feels frustrating and wrong somehow.


The curved Dahlia Garden at Anglesey Abbey, this year planted as a spectrum

Unfortunately, the Dahlia Garden apparently flooded last week after heavy rain and was temporarily closed. It is once again open, but the lawn is a mess and they have fenced off the dahlias so you can only get to within a metre of the border. So no macro work!

Tucked away behind the shelter belts lies the somewhat hidden ‘Hyacinth Garden’. In summer this is also filled with dahlias (two dwarf dahlias in red and orange: ‘Madame J. Stappers’ and ‘Ella Britton’). They are quite dazzling and flame-like in the low sunshine.


Along the Winter Walk the lavender plants had been clipped back and pepped up with more colourful dahlias:


That is pretty much the extent of the dahlia displays, but there are plenty of other things to enjoy at Anglesey Abbey. For instance, the trees are starting to colour up for autumn now and the gardens have some great avenues and shelter belts where you can see this happening. It is worth a visit to see the magnificent hornbeam avenue in its autumn glory. Also, as you approach the Mill (from either direction in fact) you walk through woody paths where the ground is encrusted with thousands of tiny cyclamen. They are as effective as the snowdrops are in spring.

But I will finish with a photo my favourite dahlia display; the view along the canal by the mill.




About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in Nature, Out and about, Plants, Whimsy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Dances with Dahlias at Anglesey Abbey

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    What a fun festival! I think the dahlia balls would make great party decorations. 🙂

  2. And what a fun post too! It’s wonderful to see a seriously great garden letting it’s hair down, I love the idea of interactive floral art, what a brilliant festival. Your images of the dahlia studded canal and mill race are so beautiful, Millais-like too. Thank you for sharing a day of revelry with us.

    • I have to say I was disappointed that I was too late to pick a dahlia and add to the line (I think they were limited by test-tube vases). I like the idea of the line continuing until the end. The mill race with dahlias was definitely the highlight for me.

  3. Looks like Dahlia Heaven. Love the curved beds of Dahlias and the Winter Walk. Lots of creativity and fun in these displays.

  4. Chloris says:

    What fun, I wish I had gone. Is it an annual event? If so I shall make sure to go next year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s