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sir roy’s ma­jes­tic labour of love

- Gardening · Hobbies · London · Victoria and Albert Museum

‘Our big­gest chal­lenge in cre­at­ing the gar­den was a lack of time,’ Sir Roy re­calls. ‘We both needed to be in Lon­don for work but on a Thurs­day night I’d fill the car with files from the V&A and we’d travel down here, re­turn­ing to the city on Sun­day. We would have a week here at Easter and Christ­mas and a few weeks in the sum­mer when I used to cut the hedges.’ The soil at The Las­kett is rich and well-drained, which al­lowed the Strongs to grow a huge va­ri­ety of plants. Al­though the cou­ple worked in har­mony there was one thing on which they couldn’t agree. ‘My wife hated any­one com­ing to see the gar­den when I was be­com­ing known as a land­scape de­signer. When that hap­pened she would pull ev­ery cur­tain in the house and dis­ap­pear,’ he says. Af­ter Ju­lia’s death in 2003, Sir Roy reg­u­larly opened the gar­den to the public. ‘Ju­lia would have hated it, but I think it’s won­der­ful to share a gar­den.’

 ??  ?? THE SIL­VER JU­BILEE GAR­DEN
This area was laid out in 1977 to mark the Queen’s 25 years on the throne, and re­vamped in 2005. At its cen­tre is a sun­dial from the gar­den of the so­ci­ety pho­tog­ra­pher
Sir Ce­cil Beaton, Sir Roy’s great friend, who was the sub­ject of one of his ex­hi­bi­tions at the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery. In 1968, af­ter the ex­hi­bi­tion, Sir Roy spent sev­eral week­ends at Beaton’s Red­dish House in Wilt­shire, which opened his eyes to the won­ders of gar­den­ing. ‘To him I owe my first hor­ti­cul­tural stir­rings,’ he says.
THE V&A TEM­PLE Sir Roy calls The Las­kett ‘an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal gar­den’, and the V&A Tem­ple was built in 1988 just af­ter he left his di­rec­tor­ship of the mu­seum. In it there is a plaque by sculp­tor Si­mon Ver­ity, with Sir Roy’s pro­file po­si­tioned be­tween those of Queen Vic­to­ria and Prince Al­bert.
THE ROSE GAR­DEN This was the first area to be cul­ti­vated, in 1974. ‘Its full name is Pier­pont Mor­gan Rose Gar­den be­cause I paid for it with a fee for a lec­ture at the Pier­pont Mor­gan Li­brary in New York,’ says Sir Roy. ‘I’ve al­ways liked roses and I en­joy their ex­tra­or­di­nary his­tory.’
A BIRD’S EYE VIEW The last project was the white and ter­ra­cotta Belvedere, com­pleted in 2018. A friend kept send­ing Sir Roy aerial shots of The Las­kett, taken from a drone, and he re­alised what was miss­ing was a way of look­ing down on it. ‘So I sold some things at Christie’s and built the Belvedere,’ he ex­plains. ‘It’s mag­i­cal up here – ro­man­tic. There’s noth­ing more to add now, that’s it.’
THE CHRIST­MAS ORCHARD Ju­lia and Sir Roy started the orchard on Christ­mas Eve 1974. It was Ju­lia’s space, where she planted a small col­lec­tion of his­toric ap­ple trees. In spring there is beau­ti­ful blos­som and swathes of bulbs. The me­mo­rial urn con­tains her ashes.
THE SIL­VER JU­BILEE GAR­DEN This area was laid out in 1977 to mark the Queen’s 25 years on the throne, and re­vamped in 2005. At its cen­tre is a sun­dial from the gar­den of the so­ci­ety pho­tog­ra­pher Sir Ce­cil Beaton, Sir Roy’s great friend, who was the sub­ject of one of his ex­hi­bi­tions at the Na­tional Por­trait Gallery. In 1968, af­ter the ex­hi­bi­tion, Sir Roy spent sev­eral week­ends at Beaton’s Red­dish House in Wilt­shire, which opened his eyes to the won­ders of gar­den­ing. ‘To him I owe my first hor­ti­cul­tural stir­rings,’ he says. THE V&A TEM­PLE Sir Roy calls The Las­kett ‘an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal gar­den’, and the V&A Tem­ple was built in 1988 just af­ter he left his di­rec­tor­ship of the mu­seum. In it there is a plaque by sculp­tor Si­mon Ver­ity, with Sir Roy’s pro­file po­si­tioned be­tween those of Queen Vic­to­ria and Prince Al­bert. THE ROSE GAR­DEN This was the first area to be cul­ti­vated, in 1974. ‘Its full name is Pier­pont Mor­gan Rose Gar­den be­cause I paid for it with a fee for a lec­ture at the Pier­pont Mor­gan Li­brary in New York,’ says Sir Roy. ‘I’ve al­ways liked roses and I en­joy their ex­tra­or­di­nary his­tory.’ A BIRD’S EYE VIEW The last project was the white and ter­ra­cotta Belvedere, com­pleted in 2018. A friend kept send­ing Sir Roy aerial shots of The Las­kett, taken from a drone, and he re­alised what was miss­ing was a way of look­ing down on it. ‘So I sold some things at Christie’s and built the Belvedere,’ he ex­plains. ‘It’s mag­i­cal up here – ro­man­tic. There’s noth­ing more to add now, that’s it.’ THE CHRIST­MAS ORCHARD Ju­lia and Sir Roy started the orchard on Christ­mas Eve 1974. It was Ju­lia’s space, where she planted a small col­lec­tion of his­toric ap­ple trees. In spring there is beau­ti­ful blos­som and swathes of bulbs. The me­mo­rial urn con­tains her ashes.

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