Gardens to visit in Oxfordshire
One of the joys of gardening is that there is always something more to learn. As a breed, gardeners love new ideas and since Roman times people have enjoyed visiting gardens to stare and wonder. The county of Oxfordshire, where our business is based, is richly blessed with gardens, many with historic importance. We have chosen three of the best gardens to visit in Oxfordshire for inspiration.
Rousham, near Woodstock
In his ‘Around the World in 80 Gardens’ television series, Monty Don described Rousham as ‘The greatest masterpiece of English Gardening – a flawless work of genius.’ Designed by William Kent in the 18th Century, it remains virtually unspolit, which for me is part of this garden’s unique charm. The approach to Rousham is through parkland grazed by Old English Longhorn cattle, with the house nestling comfortably into the landscape. There’s an atmosphere of peace, which increases as you stroll through the unfussy grounds. It’s a place of theatre in which the visitor takes centre stage. Evergreen trees are used to frame views of the river Cherwell and selected ornamental, largely gothic, features. Even in a small garden, the idea of breaking the space into different areas of interest and creating focal points can be learnt and applied from a visit to Rousham. The gardens are open every day of the year from 10:00 am to 4:30.
Buscot Park, Faringdon
If you’re seeking ideas for a good rose to plant, visit Buscot Park, Faringdon for inspiration. There you will find a wonderful collection of old French Roses, alongside more modern cultivars, climbers and standards at their most fragrant best in June. There’s an unusual Judas tree arch, with white Wisteria, under-planted with purple Alliums and Tulips which gently guides the visitor towards the real spectacle – the Peto water garden. Designed in the early 20th Century for the first Lord Faringdon, the Italianate design by Harold Peto creates a perfect link between the house and the lake with its domed and columned garden temple. In complete contrast, the charming swinging garden is a place of fun where grown-ups can revisit their childhood and continue their tour with the Egyptian Avenue, created in 2013. Amongst other works of art, a David Harber Skeletal Pyramid, fames the wonderful view. The grounds are open most days of the week but it’s best to check the website if you also intend to visit the house.
Broughton Castle, Near Banbury
Few places have been so extolled as Broughton Castle, near Banbury. In 1877 William James wrote “Nothing can be Sweeter than to see its clustered wall of yellow-brown stone so sharply islanded, while its gardens bloom on the other side of the water.” One hundred and fifty years later Broughton hasn’t changed much. The unity of the house with the wider landscape is desirable no matter what the scale of your home and garden but at Broughton, it’s the subtlety that creates a romantic feel, the perfect foil to the grandeur of the house. There’s an understated simplicity that appears effortless. Nothing is regimented, the plants flow together seamlessly and there are some rare horticultural species for those keen to discover something new. Not to be missed is the fleur-de-lis pattern box hedging in the walled garden, flanked by generous perennial borders, at their best in mid-June. If you are seeking ideas on colour combinations, you are bound to find inspiration among the rich purples and blues of the perennial planting. The Castle is open from 2:00 – 5:00 on Wednesdays and Sundays from April to September.