It was a glorious Spring Day and on a whim as we were passing , we stopped at Rousham for what was only our second visit and I fell in love!
My first visit should have been perfect, it was 3 years ago a magical summers evening and the owners had kindly allowed us a private visit with our students from the Oxford College of Garden Design so around 20 of us strolled and explored to our hearts content but I came away having had an enjoyable time of course, but I hadn't found its magic and felt a little cheated though many others had.
This time the two of us strolled gently down towards the river with the house (which in my opinion is just the right size grand but not a huge pile) behind us and followed the meandering path with the green sward in front of us, studded everywhere with tiny primroses and primulas of the palest yellows and mauve.
With the trees burgeoning green, we occasionally passed couples picnicking in cosy spots and chatting in muted tones with one large group group of students, perfectly placed I am not sure if by accident or by design, sprawled elegantly across the grass quietly enjoying each others company in the perfect setting.
We eventually reached the start of the rill and followed its meandering path down through the woods and to the lily pond beyond where we stopped ourselves for a while to lap up the bucolic atmosphere.
Back then towards the house and the perfectly striped lawns and on into the Walled Garden which at first sight had little to offer, but promise and potential of things to come has its own attraction as far as I am concerned and then a nice surprise in the form of an arched pathway through the middle of the space under planted with clouds of blue forget me knots and soft pink tulips - lovely!
Into the garden with the huge old dovecote and topiary and again this wonderful sense of peace and that you are not in a public space but an interloper in a very private garden- delicious! Everywhere there are seats inviting you to linger a while and in the warm spring sunshine with the espaliered fruit trees and Cornus Mas in bloom it is lovely to stop and watch the white doves tooing-&- froing completing the picture.
As we leave stopping to admire the amazing old trees just in front of the house and the antics of the posh fluffy legged bantams that preside over the space we smile and thank the lady at the entrance saying we felt like we had the garden all to ourselves, she smiled and told us there were around 70 other visitors that day - you would never have guessed!
A lovely experience leaving you feeling calm but stimulated at the same time so very much nicer than visiting some of the bigger stately homes and gardens where you share the space with coaches, numerous instructional signs (where did keep off the grass ever belong in this situation?) dubious gift shops crowded noisy tea rooms and out of control bored children!
The only facilities at Rousham are the loos and you cannot take young children but it is so welcoming - choose your day ,take a picnic that does the venue justice ( a pork pie and a packet of crisps just won't cut it here) choose your spot and add to the artistry of the space for a while! See you there!