Asthall Manor, near Burford, is home once again to a terrific collection of sculpture in stone. Every other year the grounds are filled with a collection of inspiring and surprising works that are placed sensitively within the framework of this essentially English garden, drawing the visitor through the space and punctuating the views out across the Windrush valley. Twenty-six artists are represented this year.
The house, home to Baron Redesdale and his brood of Mitford offspring in the early twentieth century, now has a garden, constructed in 1998, by I and J Bannerman. This couple, known for their blowsy formal-informal country-house style work on large projects - their best-known work is for the Prince of Wales at Highgrove, and demonstrate just how good a garden can look when it refers to the history of garden design while also updating the execution. Clipped evergreens, placed to give contrast in leaf size and texture, delineate the space, with an abundance of early summer planting billowing about within and around - roses, paeonies, astrantias, alchemilla. The planting is deceptively simple - great effects are achieved by having slightly different coloured forms of the same plant in close proximity - and the relaxed feel is due to self-seeding, carefully edited to leave paths just clear enough to negotiate. The garden links to the surrounding countryside through areas of beautifully managed meadow planting, with densities of native wild plants that are just not found in the wild any more. The garden is apparently maintained by a single gardener.
The sculpture is mainly abstract in nature, and the pieces sit quietly in groves of trees, emerge from swathes of meadow or dominate areas of lawn according to their character. They have been placed with a sure eye, and accentuate the formal vistas within the garden or act as a counterpoint to a great view across the Cotswold landscape.The show goes on until 11th July.
Paul Ridley Design