If anyone wondered why Georgiana loved staying at Keppoch House so much, they would understand if they walked in the gardens.
They must have been more spectacularly manicured in 1829 and probably more formal too, but they couldn’t have been more beautiful than they are now. In the distance, from the hill where the house stands, you can just see Roseneath on the peninsula at the other side of the loch. The gardens slope gently down towards the road and, behind the house and old stables, are the green hills where buzzards and kestrels hunt in a wide, bright sky not unlike the sky of WA. The sounds of birds and squirrels, wind rustling long grasses gently and the dogs occasionally barking are the only things you’ll hear if you take just a few steps away from the house.
Cath gave us the grand tour of the gardens. While she was talking with Mike, I lagged behind whenever I could without seeming rude, just to be alone with my thoughts and to soak in the same sounds that Georgiana would have heard. I veered off along a path through the bluebells and wondered how often her feet had trodden the same steps..
One of the things I wanted to find most was a place where she had been walking in the gardens when she saw John Molloy and her brother, Dalton, driving up in the carriage just prior to the wedding.
It was the beginning of her new life and she recorded the moment in her diary. There are several places where the drive can be clearly seen from the gardens at the front and side of the house. I thought I had found the spot when I stood and looked back down the drive but somehow it didn’t feel quite right.
Then I walked away on my own, along a small, muddy path under the trees and further down in the garden, away from the house. One of the dogs joined me, tugging playfully at my shawl as I explored deeper into the greenery. Mike and Cath’s voices had disappeared altogether. It was very, very still and quiet and the leaves were slippery under my feet.
Something stopped me and I knew that I had to turn and look back – yes, I could just see the driveway through the trees. I knew that this was where Georgiana was standing when she saw her future husband arriving to claim his bride. Perhaps it was a silly thing but I spoke to Georgiana as if she was there with me – it felt almost as if we had shared a secret, as friends do.
But the garden’s best secret was yet to come. I’ll tell you next time how the garden gave us the answer to one of our biggest questions about Georgiana’s wedding and how we found something more special than I could have anticipated!
Here’s a clue….