Published Friday 28th July 2017

Herefordshire is home to one of the largest private formal gardens to have been created in England since the Second World War and, whilst they are open to pre-booked groups throughout the spring and summer, they will be open for St Michael’s Hospice on Sunday 27th August for everyone to explore.

The Laskett Gardens – which are just off the A49, south of Much Birch – feature 24 rooms created over the course of four decades by Sir Roy Strong and his late wife, Julia Trevelyan Oman, who died in 2003.

Sir Roy was a former director of the V&A Museum and, before that, the National Portrait Gallery and his late wife was an acclaimed theatre and film designer. Their gardens offer a unique portrait of the makers with the story of their marriage and extraordinary lives woven into its very fabric.

He says they never planned to turn the gardens into the showpiece they are now.

‘It was never the intention to do any of this. We just fell in love with the Cedar at first,’ he says.

The whole garden is an autobiography of two people and their marriage and is scattered with references to Sir Roy and his wife.

Each of the rooms has a story; the Silver Jubilee Garden, for instance, being a nod towards Her Majesty, the 50th Birthday garden – designed by his wife – marks Sir Roy’s milestone birthday and the Hilliard Garden is in celebration of the Elizabethan miniaturist, Nicholas Hilliard.

Elsewhere, there are nods towards Sir Roy’s working life in the form of a V&A Temple which was erected in 1998.

The Colonnade Court – the perfect setting for an alfresco lunch or even theatre production but in this instance coffee and teas – the Rose Garden, Great Ascent and Serpentine Walk with all the topiary are eye-catching additions, as is the 65-yard Elizabeth Tudor Walk.

These gardens are, as Sir Roy says, ‘a visual expression of a very happy marriage.’

The Laskett Gardens are opening this year as part of the St Michael’s Hospice Open Gardens programme.

‘The Hospice is one of the great institutions of Herefordshire,’ he says.

‘We really ought to get on our knees and be very grateful for it. Herefordshire has to be very proud.’

He added, ‘I think gardens are solace, they bring such pleasure and are also a place for memory. They cross all society, much like sport and cooking.’

For more information, including directions