Teetered in from the official opening of Kim Wilkie’s new landscape ‘Orpheus’, dripping mud and rain across rolling floorboards at Boughton House, Northamptonshire. Orpheus is an elegant turf pit (above, behind Kim) representing the eponymous hero’s journey into the underworld – in landscaping terms a 21st century answer to the neighbouring eighteenth century Olympian Mount (below).

A tempest lashed around us while we inspected Kim’s elegant pit and a band of early musicians, I Fagiolini, plunged down towards Hades to play a few bars until the rain drove us all indoors.
I wonder how many times this scene has played out through the ages with seventeenth and eighteenth century guests rattling up from London for a garden party only to be rained on.

Feel that Orpheus, who sang so sweetly that he scared away the Sirens while he was being a Greek hero, should have been able to have scared away the rain. When he descended into the underworld to rescue his wife, and then bogged up the mission by breaking a promise, I wonder if it occurred to him that he would be remembered as a verdant pit – or a romping ENO operetta.

Either way the place is worth visiting. The hellish new landscape is heavenly (although I’m not convinced by the Fibonacci curve at the top of the pit pictured at the top of this page) and the surrounding old landscape is magnificent. The rest of the garden’s brimming with plant and design interest. And the house stuffed full of beautiful, ancient, unusual paintings (including an unusual one of Henry VIII and his three children); Venetian chests, gorgeous ceilings and grand/cosy four posters.

All still lived in by the man who commissioned the landscape, the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry (pictured here using the music stand as an umbrella) and his large family.

Leave a Reply