Our final garden of Day 1, viewed in soft evening sunshine, was Sir Roy Strong’s renowned garden, The Laskett.
Clustered together at the entrance, we were addressed by Sir Roy in his inimitable style, dapperly kitted out all in white. His appropriately timed talk, laced with humour, outlined the history of the garden and acknowledged his influences.
Released into the garden, equipped with large highly decorative maps, (and later also with a welcome glass of wine) our party was quickly subsumed into the 20 rooms and numerous connecting allées that constitute this unique garden.
Inspired by the great Italian gardens, The Laskett has strong architectural lines and dramatic vistas, the sternness and formality of the layout being offset by softer under-planting.
I feel that in this much anticipated garden there was a degree of disappointment amongst some, as to the quality and general togetherness of this planting. For me it was so impressive that a man who claimed to have negligible knowledge of gardening when he and his wife, Dr Julia Trevelyan Oman, first arrived should have created such a horticultural feat.
I found the garden singularly moving for being the narrative of two people’s intertwined lives. Their working lives are recalled for example, on his side, by the V&A Temple and the Beaton Bridge and, on hers, by the Ashton Arbour and Covent Garden. Elsewhere and more intimately one finds Torte’s garden and Sir Muff’s Parade named after their deceased feline friends.
One room I loved was the Elizabeth Tudor Walk with its ‘swagged’ beech hedge, mirroring the undulating Herefordshire hills beyond.
Wherever one wandered there were images to delight the eye at all levels and in all directions, the whole being so cleverly interlinked as to be so much more than the sum of its parts.