Rousham - a treat not to be missed!
Monty Don described Rousham as "one of the greatest experiences on this earth" in his book, "Around the World in 80 Gardens", and having visited yesterday, I have to agree with him - it is an outstanding property! Originally designed by William Kent in the first half of the 18th century, little has changed in the last 250 years, and every corner you turn gives another amazing vista. Combine this with perfectly mown lawns, the impressive statues and the views over the Oxfordshire countryside and the River Cherwell and you've got a garden that's unique.
Rousham has stood still in time. You approach the property up a long driveway bounded by fields filled with grazing cattle. There is no gift shop or tea room here, but just a ticket machine where you pay your entrance fee, and then you can wander at leisure through the grounds. First view of the house is impressive (above) but when you wander round the side, you realise that this garden is really different.
The views are breathtaking and at every turn there is another statue or feature that makes you stop in your tracks. More striking still is the total absence of flowers around the house - the vista is green, green, green - just lawns, trees, and a series of water pools, which reflect the green around them. You can spend hours just wandering through this verdant landscape and you begin to feel as though you have been transported back in time - the pressures of the 21st century seem far removed when you come face to face with a statue of Apollo, or the Dying Gladiator. This is a genuine landscape garden.
But if it's flowers you want, you can head for the magnificent walled garden adjacent to the house and this is where you will find the 17th century kitchen garden, an ancient church (above) and a box parterre of roses, overlooked by a dovecot (below).
Even in September, the flower borders are magnificent (below) and it was here in the flower garden that I found one of the gardeners who is lucky enough to work at this beautiful property, who told me that the garden is rarely crowded, even though it has been in the limelight recently. I spent several hours here and saw no other visitors at all, but that is probably because the day had started out as a rainy Monday, and then turned into a beautiful day, as you can see from the sky in the photographs.