Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Laskett garden


To understand this garden it is important to know something about the two owners. It is a deeply personal space created by Sir Roy Strong and his late wife Dr Julia Trevelyan Oman reflecting their lives, loves, interests and careers 

Following their marriage in 1973, they purchased this early Victorian house set on the corner of a four acre triangular plot in Herefordshire, the land amounted to nothing more than a field 

Sir Roy Strong joined the National Portrait Gallery in 1959 and became its Director in 1967. In 1973 around the time of their marriage he became the Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, a post which he resigned in 1987 to pursue a freelance career in the media and as a writer. Julia was a renown film, theatre and television designer and her understanding of the use of perspectives is evident throughout the garden - Laskett is very flamboyant and highly theatrical.
From the entrance pillars that lead you into the garden to the last exit it is obvious whose garden is being visited! It provokes strong feelings amongst visitors - love, not sure, or even dislike. 
It is not possible to visit the garden as an individual. Admission to the grounds is open to groups of 20 or more only, one in the morning and one in the afternoon for 2 days per week - I went with my Fine Art Society
My feelings are that a garden does not have to be 'one size fits all' or conform to any particular stereotypical style. 
What pleases one eye will not necessarily appeal to another
Since Julia's death in 2003 Sir Roy Strong has embellished the outside of the early Victorian house so that it now resembles one from the Georgian Period. In the garden too he has reconfigured it and added many more features 
Nymphaeum - an Italianate tableau constructed this year to mark Sir Roy's 80th birthday. The statue in the middle of the grotto is Apollo.  
The criteria for me when visiting a new garden is whether I enjoy walking through it, hopefully spying some, new to me, flowers and seeing interesting ideas and surprises along the way - Laskett fulfilled that brief
I should have listened more closely to my audio guide! Is this stone plaque on the house wall Sir Roy Strong? - after all he has written a book called 'The Cult of Elizabeth' 
image from The National Portrait Gallery, London
here he is dressed as an Elizabethan gentleman -  what do you think?
It appears to link with this creation of an Elizabethan Tudor Avenue which comes 
complete with one of Queen Elizabeth I's emblems, a crowned pillar  
Gateway leading to the Colonnade Court - originally a kitchen garden. The area is now a concourse for events
Stag - just look at those golden antlers!
The lead artichoke sculpture appealed to me - thank goodness the gold leaf has been kept well away from it!
Silver Jubilee garden

Diamond Jubilee Urn
I have probably shown about a third of the Laskett Garden here. It was a garden that I enjoyed wandering through with lots of surprises down each pathway and around every corner. 
 My only comment would be that I personally would not have so many garden statues, urns, and buildings, nor cover stone with paint and gold leaf,
but it was a visit that I enjoyed and so did the majority of our group

54 comments:

  1. I love the garden, its design and uniqueness. Laskett house is beautiful.
    I agree with you Rosemary. Everyone has their own idea of what a garden should look like.. its very personal.
    So much work has been put into this beautiful property. I would say with 'love'
    Sir Roy Strong, looks the perfect 'Dandy' in his Elizabethan garb..
    Opening the gardens every two weeks. I should imagine, pays towards the gardeners.
    I enjoyed going around the grounds with you.
    val x

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    1. Dear Val - there is a new book which has just been published showing Sir Roy Strong dressed up as various characters throughout history - from a Maharajah to Charles I, President Lincoln to Rasputin etc, and strangely he looks like them all. He obviously enjoys dressing himself up as well as his garden!

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  2. Why don't I live there??? I love British gardens style and gardens. This garden is just lovely, stunning, has lots of variety. Thank you for sharing this, Rosemary! I just got some ideas and inspiration....

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    1. Dear Satu - glad that you have found some ideas and inspiration in this post. I shall keep my eyes open to see what you come up with next in your garden!!

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  3. It reminds me in many ways of Highgrove, a beautiful garden where one also suddenly comes upon the totally unexpected.

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    1. It is apposite that you should mention Highgrove Jessica as Sir Roy Strong was one of those who advised and helped Prince Charles with his garden.

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  4. It must be a huge garden as this is third of it, much to explore there.

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    1. It is a very complex garden which requires the map that they give to visitors, but I realise that I did in fact miss bits of it. If I had shown the whole garden I think that this post would have gone on forever.

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  5. Hello Rosemary,
    His hair is all wrong for his period of dress...never mind, that is know doubt how he wanted it.
    The garden is beautiful in some places, other areas I don't care for, just my opinion.
    The last photo has me wondering what lays beyond, and with a garden of such size that it what I expect to see.
    Not fond of the blue wood, but however, it different..the blue arch, not fond of that either.
    The photo above that blue gate is lovely, I really like that one too...
    Regards,
    Margaret

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    1. It is definitely a garden full of discoveries - there were quite a few wild areas around the fruit trees and secret pathways that I liked.

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  6. Laskett is a garden I would enjoy visiting, Rosemary. It looks exuberantly eccentric, and seems entirely appropriate for such an over-the-top personality. The young Sir Roy looks rather like John Lennon to me, and I think it entirely possible that he looks like the statue, or the statue looks like him! Not for me either, the paint and gold, but there are lots of good things to enjoy, and I do like the crowned pillar. I like the artichoke sculpture too. I'm sure your group enjoyed the day.

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    1. I think you are right about the John Lennon look, I think the photo must have been taken in the late 60s. You are right there are lots of lovely things to enjoy in this garden and especially the great vistas.

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  7. I love visiting gardens and this looks like one I'd enjoy, now I just need 19 other people to feel that way. I agree that it was a little heavy on statues and color, I like to let the plants speak for themselves.

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    1. It is a shame that it is not possible to visit unless you are part of a group. I suspect also that it might be a way of controlling the numbers of visitors.

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    1. That is a good description Debra.

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  9. Dear Rosemary, I actually love this garden. Mainly because it is so dramatic and highly personal. To me it looks like that someone went all the way out to realize his/her personal garden vision, not shying away from the costs and effort that comes with that, which is very rare these days and that fact alone I can only admire. But beyond that in my eyes the garden is unique, unusual, eccentric and very, very beautiful. Now I only would wish that I could visit this garden myself...
    Thanks for this great post!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Dear Christina - so far the reactions to this garden have been typically varied. A lot of love, and some definite 'no' 'nos'. It is a shame that you cannot visit the garden yourself, as I am sure that you would enjoy it more than looking at my photos.
      Thank you I am pleased that you enjoyed the post

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  10. I have to say that I think it the most pretentious garden I've ever seen! That's not to deny it might be fun to visit (but I couldn't live with it!!)

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    1. Ah! artisfriend, you have just proved the point I posed at the beginning of this post.

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  11. It's a garden which has been created to reflect the personalities and tastes of the owners and is very theatrical. It's interesting to think that the land started out as a field! I appreciate the topiary, the bay trees in pots and some of the classical stone features, but the bright blue paintwork is not to my taste. It has prompted me to look at a book I have which was published in 1980, 'The Englishwoman's Garden', with a forward by Roy Strong to see what he had to say about the history of gardening and garden design then. It's fascinating that the change to the architectural look of the house and many garden structures and embellishments were placed in the garden in the last decade.

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    1. It is hard to believe now that the house is actually early Victorian. I wonder what information you managed to discover from your book 'The Englishwoman's Garden'.

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    2. Well-known and less well-known women have written about their gardens (with photos). Roy Strong in the Foreward written in 1979 says that he only discovered the art of gardening and became interested in the history of gardening six years before. He points out that there was a new era in gardening after the Second World War because of less staff and the gardens became more personal. He says that the accounts of contributors to the book often read like leaves torn from a journal, full of passion and idiosyncrasy...how generous they are to unfold the pages for our contemplation.

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    3. That is interesting information Linda thank you - I suppose we are all virgin gardeners when we first begin our gardens.

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  12. Dear Rosemary,

    I would agree with you that the garden is a tad over-accessorized, but I would enjoy visiting it and taking in another's vision. At the very least, Sir Roy has left a unique imprint, and the world would be awfully dull indeed if everyone were to conform.

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    1. Dear Mark - it was an enjoyable morning wandering around this garden and wondering just what would be around the next corner. I think that there is a fine line between something being overdone or not, I think of the expression 'less is more'.

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  13. Hello Rosemary, I agree with your point that this garden is a little over-elaborate, especially with the gilding. Still, it is very pleasant, and this is an interesting use of architectural color in a garden, aside from that arising in the flowers and plants.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I think that extra work has been created in this garden with the use of painting and gilding in order to keep it looking smart. If it had been left as stone then it would have created its own verdigris and moss and would require no further attention.

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    2. Hello again, Looking over pictures and comments it suddenly stuck me--the problem with the Laskett gardens is that in their setting of such natural beauty and grandeur, the elaborate effects seem especially fussy and out of place.

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    3. I think that you are right Jim - It sits a beautiful landscape surrounded by wonderful lush green countryside - some of the elaborate effects would perhaps more appropriate to a townscape

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  14. I have heard a lot of negative comments on tv and otherwise about the ornamentation in the garden - not to my taste but each to his own.

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    1. I think that the responses here Elaine sum up exactly what I wrote at the beginning of the post - some love it, some do not.

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  15. Oi, how lovely garden. There are lots of all kinds, but it is beautiful to watch. We do not have such gardens much, at least not so plentiful. Your photos are magnificent.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Hugs

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    1. Dear Orvokki - so glad you enjoyed seeing this garden - it is a garden filled with surprises and pieces of garden history - classical, renaissance, romantic, rococo - you name it and you can find it here.

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  16. What a fascinating and unusual garden!!! It looks like a wonderful place to visit, but gosh a lot of hard work to maintain!!! I think that it is a very masculine garden. xx

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  17. A very personal garden with some inspirational areas and others that you don't really get. And when I see a garden filled with Buxus I can't help thinking of the dreaded fungus that kill them all inevitably ! Hope these ones are resistent :-)

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    1. You are right about the Box Jane as I know to my cost. The Laskett garden has had the blight in the past which has now been replaced by using Yew

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  18. Makes me wonder how many gardeners they have? Looking at their photo, it doesn't look like they go together. I guess I would expect her to be a bit exotic looking too.

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    1. There is only this one garden which has many gardens within it Janey

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  19. How thrilling to visit Dr Strong's garden! It looks more kitsch and colourful than photos I've seen. Is it true that, because the National Trust do not want to take on The Laskett, he has written into his will the wish that it should remain open to the public for a year after his death then be destroyed? I hope he changes his mind!

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    1. Hello Nilly - he told us last week that he is still in talks regarding the future of the garden, but he has no intention of having the garden trashed. He said all the personal objects in the garden will be removed. There is an urn for example with Julia's ashes in it, so all the artefacts will go but the bones of the garden remain.

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  20. I would happily took a walk after him alone, and not in a group, to enter into all nooks and admire. *** For me the castle, which you watched in Poland. :)). Yours sincerely.

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    1. I must have misunderstood Giga - I thought that it was a German castle.

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    2. It does not matter :). Castle in Germany will in the next post. Regards.

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  21. What a beautiful place and garden...wow! Love your pictures Rosemary!
    Have a great weekend now...
    Love,
    Titti

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    1. Thank you Titti - glad you enjoyed the photos - these weekends come round so fast, I hope you have a lovely one
      too

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  22. A beautiful garden Rosemary! Another one on my wish list :-)

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Madelief x

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing it Madelief

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  23. Dear Rosemary, I love that you share your garden visits with us. How else could we admire such diversity in architecture and plant life.

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  24. What an eden. Such a gorgeous place. Very swoon-worthy, Rosemary. How do you keep from swooning when you visit all these lovely places? P.S. I'm glad you're able to take the photos you do - in between swoons? :)

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    1. Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning Yvette

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