I’m off to a garden history summer course – back next Thursday. It’s an Ashridge course called Eastern Approaches, about the various oriental influences on British garden design.
We will be visiting Kew (the pagoda by Chambers), Sezincote (an Indian-style country house), Fanhams (a Japanese-style garden), Nymans and Exbury (both full of exotic rarities), Batsford arboretum and of course the Regency gardens of Ashridge itself.
These pictures are of the ‘China’ garden at Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire, which we will also be visiting. It was created in the 1840s and 1850s by the wealthy orchid-fancier James Bateman and his friend the artist Edward Cooke. Even as China was becoming better known in Europe, Bateman was content to picture it as a Willow Pattern paradise.
When the National Trust acquired the gardens in 1988 with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund it was severely overgrown, and a lot of research and work went into restoring it.