Gorhambury may be a stately home, but the current Garden surrounding the house has a very personal family stamp. It was therefore a delight for our members to be offered a private tour around it by Lady Verulam herself on a sunny Friday afternoon at the start of July.
Historically, there have been very many garden changes at Gorhambury, documented in the booklet that visitors can purchase when the house and gardens are open to the public on summer Thursday afternoons.
Our tour, though, was to highlight all the changes that the current Earl and Countess made when they moved into the house well over 20 years ago. A number of us have visited over the last two decades and enjoyed seeing the planting mature. Three main threads run through the current design, that of low maintenance, of family recreation and a sense of fun. The garden was reduced in size, initially so it could be maintained just by one full-time gardener, replaced now by visiting teams of contractors. The garden includes a tennis court designed to be in part decorative, with fancy net post finials and just partial netting, as it is in full view of the House.
There is a sense of the unexpected and things to make you smile everywhere in the form of sculpture. Is there a heron or a peacock on the balcony? No! It is a fantasy bird made out of a garden spade and hoe with a hammer head. See the photograph on the left.
The choice of planting also has a strong personal element within the constraints of being an exposed hilltop site. Hedges of all sorts help here. The relatively small clock garden was an early commission of Tom Stuart-Smith. To the side of this is the wild garden with a confection of trees and shrubs including some lilacs. By the croquet lawn is a kitchen garden, hidden by hedging, and growing vegetables, cut flowers and a favourite very scented rose of the Countess: “Fragrant Cloud”.
Many thanks to Lady Verulam, from our 33 Society visitors.
To see a slideshow of the visit please click here.