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Secret Garden Visit: Woolton House, Berkshire

This visit is part of our Secret Garden Visits fundraiser to raise urgently needed funds to save the Garden Museum from the impact of the coronavirus.

Woolton House is a Grade II listed 18th century house south of Newbury, where The Garden Museum first visited in 2016 and is delighted to be returning. Rosamond has created an unusual and dramatic contemporary garden where perennials, vegetables and grasses have been used to create regimented bands of bold colour, referencing Mondrian in a geometric layout. There is striking sculpture, expertly positioned to intrigue and surprise, plus a fine sunken garden.

Woolton House has been added to and modified by succeeding generations, until the Edwardians turned it into a practical, country house. Charles and Rosamond Brown completed the process with a stupendous glass extension.

In the garden, they started with a completely clean slate and sought the advice of the French designer Pascal Cribier, whose work includes the Tuileries garden in Paris. Cribier designed the magnificent contemporary potager in the walled garden. The Rose garden, surrounding a cleverly enlarged formal pool, is a collaboration between the Browns and Cribier. Aralias by the pool give height and structure and  Rosa chinensis ‘Sanguinea’, a hard-to-find sibling of ‘Mutabilis’, droops over the edge of the pool.

A spectacular oak stands on an expansive lawn beside the house, beyond, in the woodland; Andy Goldsworthy has created a large mound in a clearing.  This is a garden of great style, maintained with great care and gardened with enthusiasm and panache.

We are so grateful to Rosamond Brown for opening the garden at Woolton House in support of the Museum’s fundraising.