Gardens and Grounds

After Bernard and Sarah Taylor acquired Rycote Park in October 2000, they immediately set about a major renovation of the house and the surrounding Capability Brown park, together with the creation of a garden. In 2001, they commissioned Elizabeth Banks to produce a Parkland Restoration Scheme. The main thrust of the scheme was to clean and restore the 12-acre lake originally landscaped by Capability Brown and to revert to parkland pasture (funded by a Countryside Stewardship grant) from the mixed grazing and arable farming that had been practised by the previous owners.

Once this was under way, attention turned to the gardens, again using advice from Elizabeth Banks. The brief was to create formal gardens immediately around the house, to evoke the lost sixteenth- and seventeenth-century aspects of the garden from pre-Capability Brown times (as evidenced by the Kipp and Knyff print of c1715), opening out into open park and woods further away. The Edwardian walled kitchen garden was also restored, a new Allitex glasshouse built and gradually over the last 20 years other areas around the main lawns and the lake have been transformed with more interesting trees and shrubs.

Today, the garden, under the expert management of Siriol Lewis, is extensive. Immediately around the house there is the formal layout of the East Terrace, with beds planted with David Austen roses; herbaceous beds in the so called Sunken Garden nearby; a shade plant border to the north of the house next to a wonderful Oriental Plane (a champion); a walled patio garden with a Mediterranean feel next to the swimming pool; a herb garden in the Tudor manner to the south of the house; and a knot garden outside the front door. Beyond the house, there is a large lawn leading down to the lake, with scattered trees such as walnuts, Robinias, Cedar and Oaks.

Further afield, there is an extensive apple orchard planted in the 1910s, of which all the trees have been identified through their DNA; the large walled garden to the north of the house is a fully productive vegetable garden with two cutting flower borders; the glasshouse has a mixture of ornamental tender plants, plants for the house, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers, melons and salads in season, as well as figs and grapes; a pond to the West of the house has been planted up with an eye to Winter colour; more interesting trees are gradually being introduced around the lake to the north of the house; the footpath hedge is fronted by a belt of shrubs offering a variety of colour and texture throughout the year. There are sculptures on the edge of the lawn by David Roper Curzon, Rupert Till, Laura Antebi and Stanley Dove together with several sundials by David Harber.