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Fancy a bit of culture while you’re admiring your roses and clematis?
Waterperry Gardens in Wheatley (about five miles shy of Oxford), has stepped up a gear this year and has recently installed a wonderful 32 piece exhibition of Zimbabwean sculpture, called the The Chapungu Sculpture Trail, all through its gardens. I’m no art expert so can only comment personally but they’re quite affecting pieces, very tactile for youngsters, lots of contours and faces to touch, and really rather beautiful. They seem to be around every corner, so there’s plenty to look at, and apparently the smaller pieces are also available to buy.
We visited last Sunday and snaffled along a picnic – I’m not too sure that they’re allowed officially – and sat quietly behind a hedge next to a sculpture while the kids zipped around the lawn to the south of the house. I remember the cafe last year being rather expensive and not great food, but obviously I haven’t tried it this year. Anyone who has let us know your verdict.
It’s virtually impossible not to buy flowers while you’re at Waterperry so we ended up with a £150 hole in our pocket. It always feels like there’s a fairly hefty hike-up on the prices here but you can’t really fault a flower like this for £7.99.
It’s an Iris Sibirica ‘Sparkling Rose’ if you give a toss! Now happily sitting in our garden, next to assorted veggies, herbs and some edible flowers that will undoubtedly hotwire our toddler into massacring our herbaceous border this summer.
If you haven’t visited Waterperry before, or haven’t been for a while, it’s about the most customer friendly gardening experience in the world. Beautiful grounds, knowledgeable staff, a gift shop that’s actually half decent, small museum, plus courses, outdoor Shakespeare performances, garden walks and all sorts of gentle pursuits that couldn’t be more Midsummer if they tried. There’s even a small 12th century church to visit. Watch out for John Nettles amongst the church bells and the murderous vicar legging out the vestry.
Perfect for: gardening enthusiasts, walkers, young families, those with two hours to kill
Dull for: teenagers (but then, isn’t everything?)
Waterperry Gardens, Nr. Wheatley, Oxfordshire, England. OX33 1JZ Telephone: 01844 339254. www.waterperrygardens.co.uk