I visited one of my favourite houses and gardens last week. Buscot Park House is a special place for me as it is home to many Arts and Crafts pieces of exceptional beauty. It displays a number of significant paintings by Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I have always been someone who has found it easier to connect visually to things, whereas many people can lose themselves for hours in a book, I find it easier to get lost in a painting. Pre-Raphaelite Art has been a passion of mine since childhood. It was not until I began studying archaeology at University that I realised quite how much images such as those of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema had influenced me.
The Juggler -Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
The Saloon at Buscot is a room I could spend many hours in. Hanging from the walls are four large oils by Burne-Jones depicting the legend of Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty). Burne-Jones' friend William Morris composed verses to accompany each of the paintings.
The fateful slumber floats and flows
About the tangle of the rose.
But lo the fated hand and heart
To rend the slumberous curse apart.
Although the house is now owned by the National Trust the second Lord of Faringdon and his family are living at Buscot and administering the house and grounds for the Trust. A fact I sadly forgot last week when I was busily photographing a beautiful white clematis growing around one of the lower ground floor windows of the house. I enthusiastically crouched down to take a close up of one of the flowers when I peered in the window only to find the present Lord of Faringdon peering back at me. Sat in an arm chair by the window, quietly reading a book in one of his private rooms, the Lord of Faringdon unfortunately found the stream of afternoon sunlight through his window was being obscured by some daft member of the public peering in at him and brandishing a camera. I wanted to explain to him that I was not in fact a crazed stalker but just a keen gardener who wanted to take a close up of the rather pretty clematis growing around the window, but felt it was probably best to just back away and leave the poor man in peace to read his book.
The Four Seasons Walled Garden
The first part of the garden visitors to Buscot enter is the Four Season’s Walled Garden. This was a walled kitchen garden in the 18th Century but the present Lord Faringdon has turned it into a beautiful ornamental garden divided into four quadrants with statues of the four seasons around its perimeter.
The Buscot Park Garden is probably most famous for its Water Garden designed by Harold Peto. It was laid out in 1904 for the first Lord of Faringdon. The water garden was devised to create a link between the house and the large lake which is one of the main features of the original eighteenth centaury parkland landscape. It essentially consists of a long central canal leading down to the lake, flanked by box and cypress hedges.
Peto Water Garden
Peto Water Garden
Some of the most enjoyable features of the water garden are the sculptures sheltered in the hedge, on the seats surrounding the main circular pool in the canal and the fountain within the pool itself. As with the art inside the house, the sculpture is beautiful yet quirky and makes the garden more of an enjoyable treasure trove than a formal water garden.
Lion bench in the Peto Water Garden
The park at Buscot consists of a number of beautiful woodland avenues. Swathes of wild flowers and grasses grow in the dappled light of the trees. The avenues are interrupted in several places by sculptures and two small gardens. The Citrus Bowl garden as described in a previous post consists of a sunken garden filled with citrus trees.
The second of the small gardens to be found in the woodland is The Swinging Garden. It is by far my favourite part of the Buscot gardens. It is a circular garden designed to be a place of fun amidst the formality of the Park. It is a particularly beautiful and peaceful place surrounded by four large chain suspended garden seats where people can sit and contemplate the garden.
The planting is largely on a green, silver and white theme, not one that has ever previously compelled me to recreate it at home, but The Swinging Garden’s serenity and beauty has most certainly caught this Orchids attention!