Program 683: English Country Gardens; On Becoming a Gardener; In Praise of Wasting Time

Release Date: 07-30-2022


English tour guides share their enthusiasm for enjoying the riot of color and inspiration you'll find in England's best country gardens. Then author Catie Marron explains how she designed and planted a garden as a way to feel a sense of belonging in her new home. And physicist Alan Lightman explains why it's healthy to give yourself a little unstructured time every day just for goofing off.


  • England-based tour guides Gillian Chadwick, Tom Hooper, Roy Nicholls
  • Catie Marron, author of "Becoming a Gardener" (Harper Collins)
  • MIT theoretical physicist Alan Lightman, author of "In Praise of Wasting Time" (TED Books)

Additional Info

  • Places mentioned during the "English Country Gardens" interview in segment A include Beatrix Potter's house Hill Top, and William Wordsworth's Rydal Mount and Garden in the Lake District, the Physic Garden in Chelsea, the medieval gardens at the Wheal and Downland Museum in Sussex, Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent, the gardens at Hidcote in Gloucestershire, and sculptor Henry Moore's "Hoglands" home in Hertfordshire.
  • Other garden favorites mentioned are the Italianate Bodnant Garden near Conwy in North Wales, the gardens of the Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow, Ireland, and various gardens in Cornwall, Sussex and Kent.  Rick and the guides also make note of outstanding rose gardens at Warwick Castle on the River Avon, and at London's Hampton Court and Regent's Park near Baker Street.
  • Kew Gardens in London is the headquarters for the Royal Botanical Society.
  • The National Garden Scheme raises money for charity with special private garden tours in Britain.
  • British tour guides Gillian Chadwick, Tom Hooper, and Roy Nichols can all be reached from the Facebook page for Great British Tours.
  • Catie Marron wrote "Becoming a Gardener" to document how working a garden is a way to celebrate life.
  • Catie has also written "City Squares" and "City Parks," and lamented on Travel with Rick Steves program #482a that squares and plazas are not as prominent in American cities as they are in Europe. She also spoke with Rick on program #525 about her role as former chair of Friends of the High Line, the organization that oversees the above-ground park space and walkway in New York City on a converted elevated railroad line.
  • Alan Lightman is a Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of "In Praise of Wasting Time." He started the nonprofit Harpswell Foundation to encourage the education of young women in Southeast Asia, to become leaders in their societies.
  • Alan's TEDx talk at Wellesley College is about the value of unstructured time every day.
  • Alan spoke about what he discovered "Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine" on Travel with Rick Steves program #549a in December 2020.