Sir Roy Strong's garden in Herefordshire
For the past forty years, the Laskett has been Sir Roy Strong’s lifeblood. With his wife Julia Trevelyan Oman, who died in 2003, he has spent a large part of his life creating, altering and adding to the garden he began to carve out of a field when they moved to Herefordshire in 1972. Admired by many for its originality and theatricality, it has also been woundingly criticized by those who feel uncomfortable with its decorative ostentatiousness. Other purists feel that it errs from the so-called rules of garden design. But so what? A garden is such a personal thing; surely it should be whatever its owner wants it to be, whether quietly tasteful or delightfully quirky. Spanning four acres, the garden is an elaborate assemblage of hedged garden rooms with surprises around every corner: follies, urns and fripperies mark a sequence of contrasting spaces, where the visitor moves from formal to informal, light to dark, open to enclosed. Although Roy dislikes the word formal, the garden cannot be described otherwise, with influences both from the great Italian gardens of the Renaissance and the gardens of Tudor England. ‘Gardening is architecture,’ says Roy. ‘You control where people go and how they view things, how you place things. I learnt about the importance of structure from Hidcote; from the beginning this was always going to be a garden of rooms and vistas.’ But more than anything, the Laskett is a garden of memories and past experiences, peopled by the spirits of loved ones as well as those who have helped shape the garden. Described by Roy as ‘a voyage of the mind,’ it is a living autobiography with different areas commemorating various episodes of his life. The Laskett is open by appointment.