I’m a huge lover of wisteria (and judging by my Instagram feed lately, I’m not alone!). It’s such a brief period when it’s blooming and you notice it everywhere – the gorgeous purple colour is stunning and the smell is something special. I got a call from my Mum earlier this week, well aware of my wisteria love, to tell me to get to Greys Court as soon as possible as she’d just visited and seen the most amazing wisteria. Not one to argue with my Mum (you wouldn’t either!), we duly headed there early one morning to check it out (and make good use of our new National Trust membership at the same time).
Greys Court dates back to the 11th century, although the current house is not quite that old. It was restored by Sir Felix and Lady Elizabeth Brunner who bought the estate in 1937, and Lady Brunner created the series of walled gardens that were the reason for our visit.
The gardens are a series of ‘rooms’ – each entered through a door, and then exited through another door that leads to a completely new garden. I’m a huge sucker for a walled garden, and Max loved the ‘secret garden’ aspect of all the different doors, insisting on knocking on each one.
The wisteria garden is probably the highlight of the gardens – the wisteria is 125 years old and has grown into a specimen that has twisted its way around so many different supports, and the canopy of blooms completely covers the room’s ‘roof’. As soon as you walk through the door, you’re hit by the sweet, heady scent, and the sound of buzzing bees fills the air.
Through one of the exits, the wisteria display continues, with a long tunnel of blooms, exiting into the rose garden.
Although the wisteria was undoubtedly the highlight, the gardens as a whole were spectacular – impeccably kept, and interesting planting combinations.
I was slightly concerned about how busy it might be, given that the website warns that the wisteria room can get very busy, but we arrived for opening at 10am and it wasn’t at all busy – pretty much just us and one other lady whose photos Max kept ruining (she was lovely about it though!).
We didn’t have time to stay to look around the house, so we’ll have to make another visit. We did have time to visit the Tea Rooms though, which I highly recommend!
Greys Court, Rotherfield Greys, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 4PG
Opening times: Check website as these vary
Prices: Adult, £11.25, Child, £5.85