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Explore the garden at The Firs

Man and woman standing side by side in the garden next to a bed of lavender
The garden at The Firs | © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

The classic cottage garden at The Firs offers a place to sit and relax, with colourful borders throughout the year, a fruitful orchard and views of Elgar’s beloved Malverns. Explore the Sound Garden and fill the air with music or take a seat and have a quiet moment in Elgar’s summerhouse.

A classic cottage garden

The garden at Elgar’s birthplace is planted in the classic cottage garden style. After opening the birthplace to the public in the 1930s, Carice, Elgar’s daughter, had the garden redesigned, using a painting by John Chessell Buckler as her inspiration.

Painted in 1856, only a year before Edward Elgar was born in the cottage, the painting shows the garden with an arch, standard roses near the house and two central paths, all of which are still here today.

A cluster of pale pink roses with a blurred out green background
Roses | © National Trust Images/Andrea Jones

Autumn in the garden

Just because autumn has arrived doesn’t mean everything in our cottage garden turns to orange and gold, there are still plenty of other colours to spot as you wind your way through the gravel paths.

Roses are still putting on a glorious show, with red, white and yellow blooms that will stay until the winter frosts.

Echiops (globe thistles) have been flowering from mid-summer, the prickly spherical violet-blue flower heads have received frequent visits from our butterflies and bees. Our gardener will leave the faded seed-heads and leaves in the garden throughout the autumn and winter as many insects will hibernate amongst the spiky foliage and finches will eat the seeds.

The brilliant pink nerine bowdenii never fails to deliver its delicate trumpet shaped blooms each autumn, they will stand high above all other flowers and their faint musky scent carries will on the autumn breeze down the gravel garden path towards Sir Edward Elgar’s statue.

Asters are our stars of the early autumn border, they produce beautiful lilac and purple blooms throughout the shorter autumn days and are a particularly liked by the bees and butterflies that live in our garden.

The verbena bonariensis have been flowering from early summer and will carry on through until the first frosts, its tightly packed clusters of purple flowers serve as late as ‘nectar bars’ for butterflies and the height they provide in the garden setting is delightful.

Just as many summer flowering perennials are coming to an end the bushy upright stem of the solidago (golden rod) are crowned with plumes of golden yellow flowers these are an important source of nectar for many beneficial pollinating insects, also the ripening seed-heads will provide food for birds over the winter.

We have the common mallow self-seeding in the borders and gravel paths, but it would be a pity to weed out such a pretty flower, its simple open blooms are a joy to behold.

Our gem of a cottage garden proves there is much more to behold than fallen leaves and bursting apple trees but not to fear we have plenty of that too, on arrival you will be greeted by our thriving apple orchard overlooking the Worcestershire countryside with picnic tables to enjoy those remaining warm days outside.

The orchard

Though relatively small, the orchard at The Firs holds over 60 trees including a wide variety of cooking, eating, and cider apples, as well as a few pear trees including the famous Worcester Black pears.

The orchard grass is managed closely and only mown when necessary. The grass is left to go to flower and seed over the whole season, this enables a range of wildflowers to cultivate including three species of wild orchids. This wonderful environment encourages birds, bees and butterflies to visit each day to feast on the nectar within.

Visitor in the garden sitting next to statue of Edward Elgar at The Firs, Worcestershire
Visitor in the garden sitting next to statue of Edward Elgar at The Firs | © National Trust Images/Trevor Ray Hart

The Sound Garden

Whatever the weather you can make some noise in the outdoor Sound Garden. From ‘Three Blind Mice’ to ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ the dulcet, and perhaps not so dulcet, tones pervade the air around The Firs.

Choose between the three large instruments that wind around the pagoda. There is a vertical xylophone, hammock xylophone and a metallic swirl to create thousands of tunes. Just add your imagination.

Built in 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and made out of recycled materials these wonderful wooden instruments not only decorate the garden but give The Firs the right atmosphere which may just inspire the next musical genius. Come and fill the air with music.

Woodland area

A short walk from the sound garden, the woodland area allows you to see a wide variety of habitat areas for birds, small animals such as mice, rabbits and hedgehogs plus an array of insects, crickets, slugs and beetles.

Take a moment to sit on the log seats and listen to the birch trees as they sway and rustle their leaves above.

Summerhouse and sculpture

Moved here in the 1980s, Elgar's summerhouse was originally in the garden of his last home 'Marl Bank'.

Nearby is Jemma Pearson's sculpture of Elgar, relaxing and enjoying the uninterrupted view of the Malvern Hills.

View of the house at The Firs, Worcestershire. Birthplace of Sir Edward Elgar

Discover more at The Firs

Find out when The Firs is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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Things to see and do at The Firs 

The small family home which nurtured the creative genius of Sir Edward Elgar. Visit the cottage where he was born and learn more about his life and work in the visitor centre.

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Visiting The Firs with your dog 

The Firs is a one pawprint rated place. Following Elgar’s great love of dogs, The Firs welcomes dogs on leads in the cottage garden, woodland area and visitor centre. Enjoy a dog friendly visit to Elgar’s birthplace.

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Discover more about Sir Edward Elgar, his early days at The Firs, the cottage where he was born, and his life, loves and accolades in the years that followed.

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Sir Edward Elgar at his leisure: The Firs 

Despite being a prolific composer Elgar found much time to indulge his variety of hobbies. Find out more about his favourite football team, his terrible luck at horse racing, and his chosen companions in later life.


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