By Andrew Shaw
The Boughton House gardens in Northamptonshire are spread over 100 acres of landscape and contain more than a mile of canals.
Ralph Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu, and his son John are credited with designing much of gardens, and a huge project of restoration by their present day descendants, the Dukes of Buccleuch, has been underway for years. However, this August visitors are invited to visit the gardens for a special exhibition.
A fascinating array of objects drawn from the renowned Buccleuch Art Collection will help illustrate the practicalities of such an undertaking whilst also reminding visitors of how the love of gardening has inspired artists, musicians and writers over the centuries.
Ravishingly beautiful Chelsea and Derby porcelain with painted floral decoration from the 1750s and 1790s will sit alongside the leather-bound volumes of colour prints from which the artists took their designs. Poetry, including the magical evocations of Northamptonshire poet John Clare, will be celebrated, as will the musical scores of composers inspired by visions of pastoral romance.
Throughout the exhibition, delicately painted watercolour plans and maps will illustrate the changing taste in gardens, from the European inspired formal parterres with their stone basins, statues and fountains to the simple, more direct relationship with the natural landscape that came to characterise the English garden.
To round off this year’s focus on gardens, Boughton is also hosting a special photography exhibition, A Gardener’s Labyrinth, by the acclaimed photographer, Tessa Traeger. Commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to photograph important British horticulturalists for its collection and first shown there in 2003, it includes over 30 sitters working in the field, including gardeners, garden history writers, plant finders, garden designers and artists, who have helped shape new attitudes to plants and gardens in recent decades.
Charles Lister, property manager at Boughton House, said the exhibition adds a very special dimension to a visit to the house this year: “Regular visitors will be familiar with garden related aspects of Boughton’s rich collection such as the glorious flower paintings or the wooden model of a gothic fantasy bridge. However, moving these pieces into a new setting and mingling them with very different objects, some being seen for the first time, enables a fresh look at the story of these great gardens.
“Whether you are a green fingered expert or an amateur enthusiast there will be something to catch your attention and, as always, during the annual opening season there is an opportunity to make a day of it and explore what else Boughton has in store, and to take in some of the vast vistas that surround the house.”
Boughton House and Gardens will open throughout August. Guided House tours will begin at 1pm, with the last tour at 3.30pm daily.
The Great Hall Tour, plus entry to the Gardens, Armoury and special Garden exhibition costs £10 for adults, £8 for children and £30 for families (two adults and two children). Children under five go free. The State Rooms tour is available for an extra £2.00 per person.
An early viewing of the exhibitions will be available to visitors to this summer’s two-day Garden Literary Festival on July 1-2. Advance booking can be done online at: www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/page/book-tickets-for-the-2017-literary-festival
Tickets for the summer openings can be booked in advance by calling 01536 515 731 or purchased on a first come, first served basis at the gift shop on the day.Enjoy more Kitchen Garden reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.