The garden at Stourhead is springing into bloom

A view across the lake  towards the Pantheon in early spring

As you wander through the garden this spring, you'll find bursts of colour from the rhododendrons and azaleas to enjoy.


Throughout May and June we will be celebrating Floralia, which in ancient Rome, was a festival in honour of Flora, goddess of flowers and spring. As the rhododendrons and azaleas come into full and magnificent bloom around the lake paths, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate spring at Stourhead.

Stourhead is beloved by visitors for the peace and tranquillity of the garden. While everyone flocks to the lake in autumn to drink in the blazing colours of the red oaks and maples, the glories of spring remain the garden’s best kept secret, its tranquillity left relatively undisturbed.

Vibrant hues

When it comes to colour, the bright, fresh hues of spring give autumn a run for its money. As you wander the paths, rhododendron and azalea blossoms seem to ruffle and frill wherever the eye might land, jubilant in tones of buttery yellows, purples and every imaginable shade of pink.

Some might prefer the understated sophistication and gentle blush of the magnolia blooms. As their buds open later in the season, the sight of a magnolia tree in full flower is a sure sign of Flora’s return to the garden.

A season for all the senses 

Spring isn’t merely a feast for the eyes. If you’re unfamiliar with the paths through garden, you could simply follow your nose.

Sensory seasonal highlights include trees such as the limes, whose tiny pendulum blooms smell sweet like honey (no wonder they’re a favourite with bees). Then there’s witch hazel, with its delicate, spicy aroma, which some describe as ‘beguiling’. For those who prefer a floral scent, look out for the golden blooms of the Yellow azalea, which smells of sweet vanilla.

The Goddess Flora

The ancient Roman’s honoured Flora by celebrating on the streets of Rome with games, bawdy performances and feasting. Deer and hares were let loose and chickpeas were thrown to the crowds, all symbols of fertility and new life.

At Stourhead, the Temple of Flora was the first of the three temples to be built in 1745. Flora’s temple here speaks of Henry ‘the Magnificent’s’ reverence for ancient Roman culture. But it’s also symbolic nod to the significance of the goddess of flowers in a landscape garden where spring’s arrival is so extravagant every year.

Celebrate at Stourhead

This year at Stourhead, we’re inviting visitors to join us in celebrating the glories of spring. You’ll notice an air of celebration throughout the garden, house and the wider grounds.

Look out for stunning floral arrangements and Roman symbols of fertility everywhere you go, you’ll also find stories of Flora in the temples. Look out for seasonal slates in the garden with information about the botanical spring highlights handpicked by our garden team.

For those who would love to learn more about the stars of our natural collection in spring, our gardeners will be leading a free tour at 2pm every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon throughout May and June. Spaces are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Book on arrival at visitor reception.

Floralia will run from 1 May – 30 June 2019. Normal admission applies.