The Laskett: The Story of a Garden
This is the story of one man and a garden. It is also the portrait of a marriage expressed through the vision and mystery of creating a garden. Neither the author, Roy Strong, nor his wife, the designer Julia Trevelyan Oman, had foreseen this when they eloped and married in 1971. Over thirty years on they find themselves surrounded by the largest formal garden made in this country since 1945, increasingly recognized as one of the most important laid out in the second half of the twentieth century. And yet it was done not only with little money and less labour, but quite unconsciously.
But it is not so much the horticultural triumph that will grip the reader as what this garden on the Welsh Borders in Herefordshire has come to mean in the lives of its creators. Into the Laskett has been etched not only their own biographies but also the many people who crossed their lives and are commemorated within it. That galaxy includes not only garden icons, like Rosemary Verey, Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe and Ian Hamilton Finlay, but figures as varied as the photographer Sir Cecil Beaton, the painter John Piper and the fashion designer Jean Muir. It also enshrines memories of two great Oxford intellectual dynasties, the Omans and Trevelyans, of the great choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton, of the Prince of Wales and his garden at Highgrove as well as a colourful pageant of minor characters from mole catchers to cats.
The Laskett is the unusual and unique story of someone who, with his wife, has been at the centre of the arts for half a century. A great love affair, a portrait of a marriage, a haunting and human tale of a garden as the domain of ghosts and as the habitat of memory, within its confines can be found both joy and happiness as well as the tears of tragedy. No one who reads this book will put it down unmoved.
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