Rousham is an exiting garden with many elements. It was designed by William Kent in the eighteenth century and remains virtually unchanged since then. Consequently it has very mature yew hedges clipped into eccentric shapes, gates leading invitingly from one area to another, parkland which hides ponds and cascades, rills, temples, statues, swan sculptures and garden buildings including a seven arched building, built into a terrace.
As part of the English landscape school of design it represented a break with rigid formality and allowed nature into the garden with parkland based on an idealized version of the English countryside. Having said that, Rousham still retains some formality, with its large, imposing lawn and hedges, its very structured walled garden and its parterre.
I love walking in the wooded area down to the river, and the view from the very grand bowling green across the fields, the mass of daffodils, when in flower, under trees, but, to a plant lover and garden designer, the most interesting part is the walled garden with its lines of espalier fruit trees creating a living “wall” underplanted with herbaceous borders and roses. I visited, deliberately when the apple was in full blossom, making a spectacular flowery structure underplanted with Brunnera with its beautiful blue forget-me-not like flowers. The layout is very geometric, with long straight paths lined with box hedging, but in places softer plants such as geraniums and Bergenias have escaped the structure and softened the straight lines of the paths.
Even in winter the espalier trees are beautiful and make the garden interesting. When I visited, all the fruit trees and the Magnolia were out in blossom, the tulips were in bloom, and the Brunnera, and the polygonatum in the shaded border, but there was much more still to come – including peonies, delphiniums, roses, geraniums. Throughout the summer, Rousham puts on a beautiful show and is worth visiting for the scale and majesty of its gardens.