Friday, April 10, 2009

Visiting Rousham

For three years, my daughter and I have promised ourselves a trip to see the gardens at Rousham, and last week we had the opportunity and the good weather, so off we went. We drove through the archway above into the car park, after driving through the Oxfordshire countryside and Costwold stone villages which looked their best in the spring sunshine.

We walked back through the passageway to the ticket machine and to pick up a guide leaflet.

The ceiling was beautifully vaulted in the mellow golden stone.

A grand house it is at Rousham, not normally open to the public.

Within rolling parkland, the house has a manicured "island" providing sheltered spots for planting.

There are many niches containing statuary of a classical nature.

We saw mysterious doors leading who-knows-where,


plenty of architectural detail

until, having walked some way around the house


We came to a gap in the well-trimmed yew hedge and


A glorious ornate iron gate which led into a large walled garden.


We walked under the pergola

And enjoyed the water music of the fountain playing in the pond.

There were views of a dovecote

and a church spire from the path by the fruit trees.

It was early in the season but, here and there, were lovely spring flowering bulbs, like these muscari, or grape hyacynths.

Whoever designed this garden liked to frame views.

Luscious hosta leaves seemed untouched by slugs.

Steps with primroses led up to a higher level.

In the next garden area were furry-budded magnolia trees

and paper bark maple trees.

This seemed a highly desirable and picturesque residence for doves, as well as a useful source of guano as a natural fertilizer.

The knot garden was well-kept but, as yet, a little bare.


More doves viewed the estate from the weather vane on the main house roof.



Another view of the pergola, with a flowering ribes in the foreground.

There was a row of auriculae sheltering on the windowsill of the potting shed

and some pretty pots of tulips by the greenhouse.

An obelisque/odalisque led the way to another part of the gardens

dotted with more statuary

beautiful still-bare trees towering above the river

and a path divided by a rill

leading to a pond overlooked by a grotto

and then on to a stone arcade


with places to sit and enjoy the sylvan views under more vaulted roofing.

Mercury showed off his balancing skills.

This long-horned cow escorted us back around the house on the other side of the haha.


There was an intriguing staircase leading upwards

and a gatehouse resplendent with its own knot garden and some extremely elegant chimneys.

On this Thursday afternoon we nearly had the place to ourselves, enjoying the birdsong, fresh air and sunshine as well as the specific delights of Rousham itself. I'm so glad we got there at last.