The highlight of the trip to Barnsley House was seeing the Laburnum Walk, in the late Rosemary Verey’s garden, in full bloom. We had a tour with the head gardener, Richard Gatenby, who also authors a blog called The Gardens at Barnsley House
. Richard worked under the tutelage of Rosemary Verey for the last two years of her life and has continued to develop the garden in her spirit after the house and garden were sold and became a boutique hotel.
We were particularly fortunate to se the Laburnum Walk looking so lovely because Richard is in the very difficult position of needing to renovate the allee of labrnum and wisteria, underplanted with Allium aflatunense
, in the next year or two. The laburnum trees are in decline and need to be replaced. He noted that if the garden is serious about a long-term future, the five-year period required to rejuvenate the picture is a necessary evil.
This is not the first project Richard has taken on to keep the garden looking good for the future. Two years ago, the pavement in the Temple Garden, which was uneven and unsafe was redone. I visited the garden last year when the project was being completed. Now, you would never know anything had changed since Rosemary Verey's time.
A relief sculpture of a pair of Cotswold rams, carved from spangled Purbeck, by Simon Verity was also meticulously replaced last year, at Richard’s insistence. This year, he has been encouraging moss to grow on the sculpture to replicate the patina it once had.
The Potager Garden, which Verey created in 1978, was continuing to achieve her initial goal of productivity paired with the beautiful design.
The Cornus controiversa ‘Variegata’ tree in Parterre Bed no. 3 was looking particularly lovely.
Rosemary Verey believed in the importance of well-executed corners in her borders. She felt that people were less likely to cut the corner of a border when it was planted beautifully. Here Richard continues Verey’s longstanding combination of purple ajuga and echeveria. Richard acknowledges that this unlikely pairing is not correct in nature but asserts Mrs. Verey’s tendency for the hierarchy of beauty over ecology in certain circumstances.
I have seen Barnsley House for the last four years and it looks better with each passing year. I wish I had seen the garden when Rosemary Verey was alive but I am happy to see it supervised by such a talented and dedicated head gardener as Richard Gatenby.