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