|Broughton Grange garden was redesigned by Tom Stuart Smith|
After many years of keeping their gardens a closely-guarded secret (when you could only visit on either an escorted private garden tour or one of the few days when the owners threw open their gates in support of the local hospice or the NGS umbrella) Broughton Grange has finally thrown open its doors for regular openings on Wednesdays throughout the summer season.
|The walled garden at Broughton Grange overlooks the yew walk|
I’ve written about Broughton before because I managed to get there on one of the rare open days last year (you can see the review here), but when I arrived with a girlfriend on the first Wednesday in May, the smiling garden staff welcomed us with open arms and informed us that we were their first official visitors under the new regime. And during the course of our two-hour visit, it became apparent that few others knew about the new visiting arrangements here. I was delighted because we had the garden to ourselves, but it seems the new arrangements have not been publicized, because there was only one other visitor.
|The parterre in the walled garden at Broughton Grange offers seasonal displays|
This garden was completely re-designed by Tom Stuart Smith, who champions naturalistic planting, shortly after the Millennium. Ptolemy Dean was brought in for the hard landscaping and the results of their collaboration in the terraced walled garden are obvious where Ptolemy’s impressive walls and entrances offset Tom’s distinctive planting style. The result is a modern tableau with astounding views over the yew terrace below and surrounding countryside.
|Espaliered trees ensure geometric uniformity in the walled garden at Broughton Grange|
Stuart Smith put his particular stamp on the planting here by dividing the walled garden into three main areas, with the emphasis on produce in the top section, grasses in the middle and an undulating box parterre at the bottom, variously filled with tulips in springtime and replaced by seasonal plants later in the season. At either side of the garden there are lines of lime, beech and yew, giving a strong geometric uniformity to the terracing.
|In high summer the naturalistic planting at Broughton Grange gives maximum impact|
But while it is most often the walled garden that makes the headlines in the gardening press, it is obvious that there is much more work going on here at Broughton and that there is perhaps a bigger agenda planned with the new weekly openings. There is certainly the space to open the gardens to the public on a regular basis and given its proximity to Broughton Castle, which also has restricted opening hours, it is clearly no accident that both properties are open on Wednesdays.
|Considerable emphasis has been placed on vistas at Broughton Grange|
Much planning and work has been put into the arboretum at Broughton, which covers some 80 acres and has clearly been designed with the future in mind. Most trees are labeled and have been carefully sited to maximize on the available vistas, like for example lime walk, which draws your eye far into the distance (see below). The relatively new stumpery is another area where work is very much in progress and there is also a new water meadow garden. Evidence of new planting is everywhere.
Broughton Grange is open every Wednesday from May to September from 10.00 to 16.00 and admission is £6.00 for adults (children under 16 free). It is easily accessible by car from the Banbury turn off from the M40. For more Oxfordshire gardens, click here.