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‘A Garden…is the Purest of Human Pleasure. It is the Greatest Refreshment to the Spirits of Man’
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Last weekend, I had my first outing to a garden since March. Booking a ticket in advance means I can no longer choose which day to visit a garden according to the weather but I was lucky. After two hours sheltering under an umbrella, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out.
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild bought the estate at Waddesdon from the Duke of Marlborough in 1874. De Rothschild commissioned Gabriel Hippolyte Destailleur to design the Manor in the style of a Renaissance chateau on the Loire. The house took five years to build – it needed to be big enough to entertain Ferdinand’s family and friends during the summer.
Ferdinand oversaw the creation of the garden with the help of Elie Laine.
The Parterre was restored in 1994 to designs by Beth Rothschild. Usually planted with over 19,000 bedding plants [read more about the Victorian craze], this year the National Trust has ‘cut back the wallflowers and let the bulbs die back naturally’.
Baron Ferdinand was very fond of exotic birds and built the Aviary in 1889. The cast-iron pavilion has been restored and is filled with different species. Waddesdon is part of a conservation breeding programme but I really struggle with so many beautiful birds unable to fly more than a few metres. For a video of the Aviary and the plaintiff cry of the Green-naped pheasant pigeon, see my blog.
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