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Garden Visit | Contrasting Gardens in Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire

Turn End, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Eythrope

We will be visiting three elegantly designed and mature gardens in Buckinghamshire and just over the border into Oxfordshire.

Turn End, Haddenham

We will start at Turn End, Haddenham, a lesson in effective garden design on a domestic scale, which is Grade II listed on Historic England’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. Architect Peter Aldington approached the site as a challenge in the mid-1960s, aiming to show how modern houses could be happily incorporated into a traditional English village setting, and he and his wife still live here. Designed and made by Peter as a natural extension to the house, the garden is internationally renowned.

In less than an acre, space is used to create an illusion of size – courtyards with pools, a small woodland around old apple trees, and a curved glade leading to a series of garden rooms. In one room, a pergola clad with roses and vines leads into an octagonal daisy garden, with pelargoniums and salvias. Through an archway is a courtyard garden, bounded by traditionally made ‘wychert’ or clay walls topped with tiles, giving it a distinctly Moorish flavour. We are fortunate to have head gardener Jackie Hunt to introduce us to this unique garden’s many details.

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton

We will then travel to Raymond Blanc’s iconic hotel, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. The vegetable and herb gardens at Le Manoir provide the kitchen – and acclaimed The Raymond Blanc Cookery School – with fresh, organic produce. Surrounded by lawns, flower borders and orchard, there is a classic potager, a Japanese tea garden, a mushroom valley, the Chris Beardshaw wildflower meadow, a heritage orchard, and much more. To support the hotel’s zero landfill policy, there is a state-of-the-art Rocket composter and dryer, with a closed-loop compost system which we shall learn about from the hotel’s senior gardener.

Eythrope, Waddesdon Manor

From Le Manoir, we will go to Waddesdon Manor where we will partake of a seasonal lunch at the Manor Restaurant. A private bus will take us to Eythrope, the private gardens of the Rothschild family in the midst of the Waddesdon Estate. These magnificent gardens were created by Alice de Rothschild in the late 19th century. On inheriting the estate in 1988, Lord and Lady Rothschild have undertaken an ambitious restoration of the garden, overseen by Lady Mary Keen and head gardener, Susan Dickinson.

The garden is now back to its former late 19th century glory, complete with glasshouses, fruit trees, a topiary garden, herbaceous borders, and vegetable gardens. The original function of supplying flowers and produce not only to the Manor but also to the Waddesdon estate has been re-established. As well as being productive, the gardens and historic garden buildings are extremely attractive and we are honoured to be shown around by Suzie Hanson, the head gardener. There will be tea and coffee provided back at the Manor Restaurant and we will then head back to Haddenham and Thame station for 5pm.

Image: Le Manoir. Credit: Paul Wilkinson