Family Travel

A hidden horticultural treasure

A hidden treasure Waterperry Gardens

Tranquility, peace, and a hot summer sun tempered by the coolest of breezes. The English landscape sculpted into verdant undulating folds rolling in every direction.  A shimmering enveloping haze trapping the rustling of leaves, the humming of bees, and distant birdsong. It’s a scene felt as much as observed. Even the effort of looking can seem too much under such sweltering skies. The month is June, the longest day, and we are immersed in colour, culture and horticultural heritage. But we are far from being in the depths of the English countryside. Surprising as it may seem, we are only just over an hour from the outskirts of London. And where exactly? Waterperry Gardens – a most distinctive jewel in the landscape, spread over 8 acres. We hope to tempt visitors who might have tired of London’s well known, and well trodden attractions. 

Visiting Waterperry Gardens

Leaving the M40 at Junction 8 the gardens are a short and pleasant drive. On arrival, you will find parking is free which is always a plus. The gardens are accessed via the main retail area – the Garden Shop – however there are other elements and these comprise the Gift Barn, Plant Centre, Gallery, and Waterperry Orchards: all would be worth a visit in their own right. This is because what is offered has been selected with both an eye for quality, originality and occasionally humour.

The Plant Centre

The Plant Centre propagates plants from Waterperry’s own nursery beds – beautifully described as a “living catalogue”. You can buy with confidence as all plants are guaranteed for three years. The Orchards offer a mouth watering range of fruit. Sixty-five varieties of apple are produced testifying to a commitment aimed at preserving heritage varieties are not lost. Greengages, plums, and pears, including rarer varieties like Beurre Hardy, Gorham and Glou Morceau can be purchased. And the ‘hive of activity’ in this corner of the gardens also means Waterperry honey is available from the shop.

The Horticultural School

The horticultural school, originally run by Beatrix Havergal and her partner Alice Sanders resulted in the creation of gardens that still resonate with what has been described as her “horticultural virtuosity.” Appropriately enough, the gardens today are laid out with the precision and harmony of a musical score. And to continue the analogy, there is plenty of hidden seating where one can pause and enjoy a few bars rest and just enjoy the view.

Photographs of Beatrix make one think of another great institution: Miss Marple. Beatrix is depicted studying plants with an intensity the famed sleuth would have lent to uncovering clues.  A visitor today will be rewarded with a sense of a project enduring, being lovingly tended, and passed on to generations yet to come. 

The layout affords myriad paths and trails one even leading down to the upper reaches of the River Thame. One can enjoy solitude or choose instead the company of kindred spirits. On the day we visited, everyone we paused alongside was moved to comment on the colour, beauty and vibrancy of what they beheld.

A cultural offering as varied as the planting

What makes Waterperry Gardens so memorable is the way it has blended horticulture with culture. No one will fail to be delightfully surprised that on first entering the gardens, you come across an amphitheatre tucked away in the greenery. It is in perfect scale and provides the setting for upcoming performances of Peter and the Wolf, Wagner at Twilight, and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. And as a prequel to ‘Figaro’, Jonathan Dove’s ‘Figures in the Garden’ will  be performed on the 12th and 13th of August. This offers an exploration of alternative scenarios for Da Ponte’s characters. The production will be a collaboration between dance students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and local musicians from Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra. 

Visit the link below to get a taste of the sheer range and variety of cultural and seasonal offerings at Waterperry – horticultural hedonism at its very best!

I cannot imagine the visitor who will not be left feeling wonderfully sated. Waterperry captivates on so many levels. It’s a ‘looking glass world’ where the you can believe in the charm of ‘midsummer madness’ and believe in what looks and feels like an impossible accomplishment.

From England’s past…..

This is quintessential England caught in time with a reverence for the past, a seemingly timeless present – and yet with an eye for the future to plant and conserve all that is best about the fecundity and artistry of our land.

#garden #gardening #culture #art #music

Our blogs

Go City Apartments offers blogs that are aimed at creating awareness of the very best London and its immediate environs has to offer our clients. These include those in the front rank of attractions and venues – as you would expect. We also like to showcase places to visit we have sought out precisely because they are not as well known. We intend that each will live on in your memory.

Staying near Waterperry Gardens…..

For accommodation nearby please see what are offering in the Oxford area.

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