At least part of the lure of Tresco is the getting there. I mean, even from Bristol it’s a haul and a stay in beastly Penzance and a flight or a boat trip across the most sick making stretch of water there is. But its the last bit that really counts. 

I remember my face pressed to the window of a little cottage on St Mary’s, gratified by each glimpse of the pine clad ridge of Tresco through wafts of sea mist.

I remember taking the boat across the icy blue shallows of the sound, the engine idling as the helmsman manoeuvred carefully over rocks just below the surface.

I remember the kind of winding, indirect route into the garden from the quay.

But I can’t really remember the garden clearly at all.

Hopefully it is not just ‘better to travel hopefully than to arrive’ but the getting there matters and therefore some distance or some obstacle? And this is true of gardens too.

This thought is sparked at least in part by a piece by Francesca Syz on Indian Palace Hotels in the weekend Telegraph Magazine. Apart from one with a glorious flight of stairs where Liz Hurley and wotsit got married, I came across this reference to Udai Bilas Palace, on the banks of Gaibsagar Lake in Dungarpur, India:

They aren’t really showing you the palace, but an island in the lake, raised, walled and pavillioned, planted to some extent. Quite rightly. They know the lure that is.

I am hooked. Forget the palace. I mean I hope my room will be comfortable and all that, but it is the island that is the buzz.

I love the way that it ‘floats’ offshore at a jaunty angle.

The idea of setting out each day from the hotel across the lake.  Alighting at those hooped steps.

The idea of lolling there during endless hot Indian afternoons cooled by the breezes across the water. I am supposing lackeys row across from the palace periodically with succulent, spicey snacks. I foresee long, tall, frosty glasses pressed on me by saried and veiled maidens. They would adjust my silken pillows and spritz me with cooling colognes as required.

I can here the soft fall of water splashing from fountains and the gentle rustling as the gardener tended his plants. I am not sure what the flowers are – they are bright. We might have to do something about that. There would be some daily surprises, new plants planted in the early morning while I was still asleep.

You see I am taking to the Mogul Life quite easily!

In the mean time what relevance does this have in England, at No 24 Acacia Avenue?

A lot! The journey is a key design principle.

Some distance is important, either physical or pschological.

The goal, the pleasure of anticipation, the withholding.

The focus which a journey gives to a garden.

It could be as simple as a walled enclosure, you travel to at a great English country houses,  the opening door, the reveal.

Oh I hear you say you are still talking big.

No not necessarily in one of our smallest city designs we have achieved  a step across water:

Some of it is in the mind. It could be as simple as a trellis arch you walk through. A chicane of Hedges that forestall a view. But it is a different place which is reached and has a different character.

A refuge. 

And there should be a reward, be it a view, a seat, a scent, a pool, a sculpture or wotever.

In the meantime you there at Udai Bilas Palace, cancel all your bookings.

Like a rock star I am taking over the entire hotel.

I am on my way.

Robert

Ps. Further research revealed that this is a temple – Bijayrajeshwar Temple to be precise. However in my mind this is an island for coolness and air and relaxation and secular purposes.

And its got plants so its a garden!

R

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