Rousham Park

 On our homeward journey from the garden makeover, we called in at Rousham House and Garden. As members of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE), we were entitled to a '2 for 1' entry to see the gardens designed by William Kent. The entrance fee was £8 per person (so £8 for the two of us). No children under 15 are allowed although we did see several babies being carried in slings.

Topiary at Rousham Park

Monty Don, one of a relatively small band of 'famous' people living in Herefordshire, has described Rousham Park/Garden as the best landscape garden in the country.

Hard landscaping, in the form of statues, terraces, temples, follies and pools, is a feature of this garden which is set beside a bend in the River Cherwell. The house, built in 1635, is still owned by the same family (Dormer-Cotterell) and can only be viewed by appointment. So, we contented ourselves with a walk round the garden.

In addition to the many statues, etc, there are woodland and riverside walks as well as more formal gardens, a double-walled kitchen garden and the family church to investigate. The gardens are set in parkland but I think this area is out-of-bounds to visitors - a fine herd of English Longhorn cattle could be seen from the drive.

After a gentle stroll through the woodland, we headed for the walled garden to see what flowers, fruit and vegetables were on display. From the bowling green in front of the house, we entered a very impressive (size-wise) walled garden though, disappointingly, about half the area was lawn and there was no sign of vegetables! In the centre was a pool (several newts spotted) where Mary sat and got her watercolours out...

Mary painting at Rousham Park

This was the scene she was painting...

Walled Garden at Rousham Park

From the centre pool, two paths radiated out lined with apple trees...

It was very peaceful and we tarried awhile before heading off to find the vegetable garden next door - in its own walled garden - though not much doing at this time of the year.

There was an interesting knot garden (box hedging) near the Dovecote...

Knot Garden - Rousham Park

...and a two wonderful displays of tulips near the greenhouse...

Tulip display at Rousham Gardens

Tulip display at Rousham Gardens

We certainly enjoyed our visit and it was definitely worth the £8 entrance fee we paid - in truth, it was probably worth double that! And, there will be more to see at different times of the year. Is it the best landscape garden in Britain, as Monty Don says it is? There is a lot of competition and we haven't visited most of them. We were slightly underwhelmed by the experience but we may not have seen it at its best.


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