The Awe-inspiring Beauty of One Endless Garden

Friday 20 October 2017 - Posted by Julia McCutchen

I recently enjoyed some consciously chosen creative “me time” that refilled my inner well from an awe-inspiring multi-sensory experience that I’m still feeling the benefits of today.

I’d travelled to Devon to support an effervescent client, colleague and friend on one of the most significant days of her life.

It was the launch of the book she’d been thinking about writing for 10 years and had finally broken through the resistance to write; and now she is a published author.*

A few of the wonderful women who attended the Conscious Writing Retreat this year had also travelled from far and wide so we all enjoyed a delightful reunion (and a deep working session the next morning!)

Reverence for Nature

When I planned the trip I decided to make the most of the opportunity to enjoy some time for myself too and trusted my intuition to find somewhere delightful to stay.

It wasn’t long before I came across Dartington Hall and immediately knew this was it.

Having not visited before I was interested to discover that Dartington has a long history; yet it was the influence of Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst who took over the estate in 1925 that resonated the most with me.

Their vision was to celebrate a reverence for nature and self-expression through the arts, and they had the means to create an exceptional programme for social and rural regeneration that continues to thrive today.

Undeniable Vitality

I was especially drawn to explore the gardens where the landscape has been lovingly and creatively shaped for generations.

Despite a late night after the book launch, I got up early the next morning and before anyone else was around immersed myself in the magic and mystery of the expansive grounds.

Alone with the vastness and beauty of nature, I felt the undeniable vitality and presence of Source expressed through life all around me and seeping through every cell of my being.

I loved the dance of light and shade, the rich colours of autumn leaves, the scent of the earth and cold strength of sculptures discreetly positioned to punctuate the space and complement the eternal flow.

Overflowing Heart

After what felt like forever, the everyday world slowly resurfaced and the moment came for me to leave with an empty mind and overflowing heart.

The joy of being in such awe-inspiring beauty lives on and continues to fuel my creative fire today.

As Leonard Elmhirst wrote to the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore on the day he and Dorothy took possession of Dartington Hall, “Beauty is ours, ours a countryside like one endless garden.”**

What consciously chosen creative “you time” could you organize for yourself in the next month or so? Please share your comments below.


* Congratulations to Maggie Kay on the publication of her book Diving for Pearls: The Wise Woman’s Guide to Finding Love.

** With thanks to the Dartington Hall Trust for the use of the photographs. For more information about Dartington Hall see here and here, and check out the stunningly beautiful book Dartington Hall: One Endless Garden – photographs by Carol Ballenger with quotes from Dorothy Elmhirst’s garden notebooks here.


  • Last weekend I drove an hour to a place in the country near my own home town where the Franciscan sisters have a retreat center. I spent several hours wandering about meadows; sitting near a large pond, watching the breeze scoot across its surface; listening to the wind in the trees; conversing with a tree that seemed to call to me. My intention was to just “be”~~with no agenda. It was like stepping outside of time. So refreshing!!

    • How lovely Helen; thank you so much for sharing your experience. I love your intention to just “be” and it sounds like you chose ideal surroundings for your time outside of time! Delightful!

    • I’m so pleased to hear that Daphne, thank you. There truly was beauty and joy in my experience there. In fact it was so vivid that just looking at the photographs brings it all flooding back to the surface so I’m able to experience it all over again!

  • I spent a few days on a mini retreat in Charmouth last year and read a poem by rabindranath tagore which was so relevant to why I was there. your reference to the same poet after your inspiring experience at dartington is a timely reminder that I need to go again.

    • I love the fact that Tagore has been present in both of our inspiring experiences Jeanine and I wholeheartedly encourage you to schedule time for another mini retreat wherever your heart leads you to go. Enjoy!

      • yes it is inspiring and synchronistic as I had just read my journal where I had copied down the words to the poem and a few minutes later read your blog!

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