The Greens of Rousham

Today’s images come from the gardens of Rousham. A world of Green.

Monty Don, a well-loved broadcaster, writer and horticulturalist described Rousham as ‘one of the greatest experiences on this earth’ in his book, Around the World in 80 Gardens. High praise indeed. In the associated BBC TV series he spoke particularly of the predominance of ‘green’ in the landscaping of Rousham. The gardens were laid out over 250 years ago originally by Bridgeman and further developed and enhanced by William Kent and have been little changed since then.

The house is fronted and backed by beautifully manicured lawns. Woods slope down to a curve in the River Cherwell. Statuary, Follies and water features surprise the visitor at every turn, while walled kitchen and flower gardens close to the house provide a contrast.

These gardens are unspoilt, un-commercialized and unique. No ticket or gift shop. An honesty ticket machine dispenses a ticket on payment of five pounds. Children under 15 and dogs are disallowed. In consequence it is a haven of peace and quiet. You can lose yourself for hours with only a small number of other visitors – united in their reverence of these surroundings.

In late Spring when we visited on a rare good day this year, the Greens were young, bright and vibrant, and sunlight filtered through the trees.

Turn round at the end of this vast lawn and you face the ‘Lion and the Horse’, a statue by P Scheemaker dating from 1740.

Head off into the woods, and statues – camouflaged by their environment – will surprise you at almost every turn.

Descending through the woods to the River Cherwell you enter a wide open glade surrounded by a high canopy of trees and ahead of you stretches The Long Walk, at the far end of which stands a statue of Apollo.

Late Spring is the ideal season of the year to visit Rousham when the palette of greens on display is at its best – a time before the leaves begin to age and tire and the greens become homogeneous.

And when sunlight filters through the canopy the textures and colours can be exquisite.

There is better still to come. One of the most talked about features of Rousham is The Rill.

A sinuous channel of water winds down the centre of a woodland path with vast banks of waist-high Laurel to either side, past a feature called the Cold Bath, eventually discharging into the Octagon Pond.

I defy anyone walking this path on a fine day not to feel uplifted by the experience.

Climbing back up through the woods there is plenty more to see and a variety of ways back towards the main house and lawns.

But if woodland leaves you cold, and it would be desperately sad if it did, then spend a few minutes in the walled gardens, tucked away beside the main house.

These gardens are home to beds of bulbs in Springtime – see my earlier post ‘Bulbs at Rousham‘ – avenues of Espaliers, packed herbaceous borders and even a decorative Pigeon House. At this visit we were lucky to catch the last of the Apple blossom and a few late flowering Tulips.

If you live in Oxfordshire or within an hour’s drive of that area, then Rousham should be on your list of gardens to visit. You will not be disappointed.

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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22 Responses to The Greens of Rousham

  1. Len says:

    Great series of images Andy. I just love these old mansions. I often wonder how much money went into these places. So many of them are now museums. This place reminds me of Powerscourt outside of Dublin. I would love to tour your country visiting many of them.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks very much Len. Looking around the extraordinary architecture in the UK – country houses, cathedrals etc it is mind boggling how they were built and the craftsmanship that went into the build and all the landscaping as well. Rousham is a little known gem – it’s not always the places that shout the loudest that are the best.

  2. hdrexposed says:

    I would love the chance to explore grounds like these Andy. Awesome colors in the whole set, so vibrant!

  3. Great set of images from a fantastic location. I once heard a quip where someone asked a groundskeeper how they get the lawn to look so smooth and even. “Easy,” the groundskeeper said, “just roll the lawn out every day with a weighted drum… for three hundred years.”

  4. I feel like I’ve been away! What a wonderful post here, Andy, you’ve really brought this historic and magical place to life for everyone here! I think I could spend a lifetime exploring this place!

  5. oneowner says:

    Beautiful series. You managed to capture the essence of the wonderful landscape. Now I would like to visit in person.

  6. Love these greens. My favorite are the small leaves (elm?), and the tulips..

  7. Great mages Andy = thanks for sharing them with us.

  8. seekraz says:

    What a beautiful experience and post to share with us. Thank you, Andy.

  9. Phillip says:

    Amazing images Andy! What a cute little house. LOL Wow that is an impressive place!

  10. Beautiful series of images Andy. What an incredible place…I’m glad I don’t have to mow that lawn 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      The mowing precision is amazing – must take quite a lot of practice to get it just like that. There aren’t many weeds to fine either! Thanks for commenting Edith.

  11. rigmover says:

    Looks like a nice place to visit, great photo’s.

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