‘Have you seen the gardens?’ This was the question that passed me by several times before I finally followed directions through the Newton Rigg campus to this place that so many people were raving about. 

You see, I’d been so excited about going to my first RNA conference in years – and having decidedly second thoughts on the wisdom of actually leading one of the sessions – that I hadn’t looked closely at the Newton Rigg campus. Apart from actually finding it on Google Maps, that is. So it wasn’t until I made my way through a little green gate that it finally twigged that this was a horticultural college. And that the gardens were truly something special. 

On the other side of the gate lay beautifully kept lawns with swaths of meadow flowers and cottage-garden borders on either side. Ponds of all shapes and sizes, with clear water and water lilies in bloom, appeared between the beds. Further in, there were polytunnels crammed with healthy-looking flowers and vegetables that put my own poor version at home to shame. Cages enclosed blackcurrants and redcurrants, keeping them safe from human as well as animal temptation – including some very sleek-looking rabbits that kept on appearing on the lawns. And as for the herb spiral – I’ve been trying to make one out of stone, but this one was encased in metal, with herbs growing round the central spiral to a great height. I was left with a severe case of herb-spiral envy. 

The gardens weren’t just beautiful and practical, they were fun, too. A large willow figure fished in one of the ponds, while two others played badminton amongst the greenery. 
On the last afternoon of the Conference, I made my way back to the gardens to sit and absorb the weekend. It was a perfect place to contemplate. Green and peaceful. 

I have wonderfully happy memories of the RNA conference in Penrith. I came back refreshed and inspired and with renewed enthusiasm. And the college’s lovely gardens are definitely a part of that inspiration, too. 

I’ll be back ……

Juliet latest book…

2010 – Carys aggrees, with mixed feelings, to look after her mother after a fall. Once home she is haunted by old memories of a childhood sweetheart. How will she feel when they meet again? 1895 – Ann , destitute, stands on London bridge. She remembers her last visit to London, a spoilt aristocratic bride, sure of the power of her youth and beauty. Now the river seems like her only option…A powerful tale of two women struggling with love, family duty, long-buried secrets and their own creative ambitions. Can Carys follow the clues left by Ann and find her true path?

  1. Author
    Jean Bull 6 years ago

    I really wish that I'd discovered the garden too, Juliet. Oh well, may be next time the conference is in Penrith . . .

  2. Author
    Dizzy C 6 years ago

    Really lovely place to chill out and read


  3. Author
    julietgreenwoodauthor 6 years ago

    It was a lovely place, Jean! But there was so much to do at the conference, I only found it when I needed to chill out after giving my talk. Highly recommended for next time in Penrith. Maybe there should be a session in the gardens!

  4. Author
    julietgreenwoodauthor 6 years ago

    It's a great place to read, Carol.

    If the rain holds off long enough, that is 🙂

  5. Author
    Rosemary Gemmell 6 years ago

    I can't believe I missed this stunning oasis this year! Obviously too engrossed on what was going on inside the rooms… kicking myself now, but thanks for sharing those gorgeous photos, Juliet.

  6. Author
    julietgreenwoodauthor 6 years ago

    Oh, sorry you missed them Rosemary! But I think that means you'll just have to book your place for the next time the conference is in Penrith!


  7. Author
    Henriette 6 years ago

    Oh, I missed all that! How could I? Next time (and I'm sure there will be) I'm definitely going to explore the campus more. Gorgeous photos, Juliet.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


©2018 Romantic Novelists' Association

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?