Buscot Park is a large estate, with many formal gardens, centred around a late eighteenth century Italianate country house. Aside form the house, which houses the extremely impressive 'Faringdon Collection' of paintings, there are extensive gardens. By the way, make sure you check the opening hours as it is not open at all time - look at www.buscot-park.com.
The faced is very impressive, but my favourite view of the house was from the side, with a view of the swimming pool. This could possibly be to do with the fact that it was an absolutely scorching day!
The garden is split into a number of areas, each very different and equally attractive. The first area to visit is the Parents' Walk, which has colourful and well tended borders planted in 1986 by Peter Coats. The striking colour combination of bright green Indian Bean trees, Euphorbia characias 'Wulfennii', Alchemilla mollis contrasted with purple berberis and salvias.
Leading straight off from the Parents' walk, is the four seasons garden. This was created in the old walled garden in 1978, from the eighteenth century kitchen garden. Each quadrant corresponds with each season, and the quadrants are separated by dramatic axes which are lined with hop hornbeams along the east west axis. and judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum) trained over arches along the north south axis. There are wall trained fruit trees and clipped box hedges, giving the garden a feel of the old formal kitchen garden.
The planting in each quadrant represents the seasons, with spring blossoming apple and cherry trees, trees such as Acers for autumn colour, coral bark Acers and golden holly for the winter and summer flowering Syringas. The perennial planting is seasonally led, with a backbone of shrubs and the wall trained trees.
The dramatic avenues, and seasonal trees and shrubs are well tended, but my favourite planting was in the herbaceous borders, where climbing gourds, runners and marrows were left to trail over the roses, which were past their best. It is a great method of successional planting, taking the edge off of the formal planting often seen in grand houses, combining productive and decorative planting.
The rest of the garden was equally charming, with looser planting of avenues, a surprise army of terracotta soldiers, sculptures and vistas of long grasses and avenues of trees. The woodland avenues lead to smaller gardens at intersections of the avenues, with themes of Egypt and, my favourite, the 'Swinging Garden', with urns, ornamental pyres trees, swinging chairs and white planting.
The jewel in the crown is really the Peto water garden, built between 1904 and 1913, which links the lake, key to the eighteenth century landscape garden, and the house. It is a stone edged channel, following the lines of an earlier victorian arboretum, which has tall hedges, statue filled recesses and quatrefoil pools. There is a very tranquil and reflective feeling in the garden, with the gentle sound of water coming from the fountain.
There is a lot to see, so make sure wear comfy shoes!