Gardens to Visit in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire’s lovely gardens to visit.
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. Oxfordshire is richly blessed with gardens, many with historic importance. If you’re stuck for ideas for your own outdoor space, you don’t have to travel too far for inspiration. Here are some ideas on gardens to visit in Oxfordshire.
Top on my list of all-time favourite gardens to visit is Rousham, just north of 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.
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.
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.
Oxfordshire Village Gardens to visit
The beautiful villages of Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds are places from which I get most of my inspiration. Many hold open garden weekends over the summer months for charity and often a cream tea can be obtained to top the afternoon off. Other garden owners are an often untapped source of knowledge about what grows best in their area and are all too willing to share ideas. You might even find some are willing to part with a few cutting or seeds from precious plants. To find out which village gardens are open in your area look at the National Directory of Open Gardens.
You don’t even have to leave your street to pick up ideas for your garden. Looking at what grows best in your neighbour’s plot is a good indication of what will work in yours!
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