Yesterday, I was at Barnsley House in Gloucestershire with some friends from the Garden Media Guild to visit the garden. Some of us had seen this quintessential 17th century Baroque mansion before, but for me, this was my first visit to such an iconic garden.
Set in a picturesque village, as I arrived the sun was shining and everyone was in the world famous garden for a tour around by Richard Gatenby, the Head Gardener.
"Gifted amateurs have no boundaries. Mrs V found the experts and made her own mind up." he said.
It was Percy Cane the garden designer who told her to include as many vistas as possible, using the longest distance, and that's exactly what she did here - pictured from outside the temple.
He's working with Rosemary Verey's legacy and says it was the hedgerows and edge of woodland which turned her on - that and successful planting.
My eyes were darting here and there, as we made our way along the laburnum walk, the temple and the herbaceous borders.The tour wasn't just an elongated recitation of a plants list thankfully, he took us all along with him by his enthusiasm, and letting us admire the garden at a leisurely pace. "I'm a hopeless romantic who sees the magic not the mechanics " he said.
I really liked that, and I soon found the magic behind this gate.
Rosemary Verey created this potager and in turn inspired thousands of other gardeners. It is simply and utterly gorgeous, no wonder it created a trend in ornamental kitchen gardens.
Outside the walled potager, the field is the powerhouse for the kitchens of the hotel with beds of spinach, chard, rhubarb. peas, winter squash Crown Prince plus this glorious array of herbs.
There's polytunnels full of tomatoes - mamande, sungold and rosella, plus, as if on guard outside one of the tunnels, the largest, most vigorous lemon verbena I've ever seen.
Lunch was very jolly, all of us enthusing about what we had seen while we ate raw broad beans and freshly baked bread and "Oh, a glass of wine?Well I don't mind if I do..."
This was followed by a delicious lunch using ingredients picked earlier in the day. Cotswold chicken, sun blush tomatoes, peas, broad beans and roasted rosemary and garlic potatoes for most and a deliciously creamy pea risotto for those of us who requested the vegetarian option. Lemon posset to die for afterwards ....all served expertly by a friendly team .
But our visit wasn't over yet. We then made our way to the Temple where Davina Wynne Jones,
Rosemary's Verey's daughter talked to us about her mother and the influence she had on her and so many others.
Prince Charles and Elton John both admired her greatly and she was very influential in America.
"Sh could be very difficult and utterly charming , both at the same time"
Meanwhile, Richard Gatenby was back in the Rosemary Verey garden he loves, and that with an attention to detail...
As I drove home I decided it was a day of the four Ps..... a sense of place, planting, personalities and perfection.
You can find out more about Barnsley House at www.barnsleyhouse.com