On Wednesday I spent an amazing afternoon at Glyndbourne Manor with my friend and writer, Rona Wheeldon. We were invited to a special Garden Bloggers event to have a tour of the gardens and to see the final rehearsal of Rinaldo which opens this weekend.
This year they’re celebrating their 80th Anniversary of the Glyndebourne festival. I always thought that the performances at Glyndbourne were outside, but there’s a purpose built opera house. What makes Glyndebourne special is that you’re able to picnic in the wonderful gardens during the extended interval.
Many people go to town with their best crockery, champagne and dress to impress – a little taste of how life used to be I guess. We of course didn’t wear ball gowns – we felt it might be a little odd to walk around the gardens in the middle of the afternoon dressed in our finest!
The sweeping lawns and garden rooms have been designed to enhance the experience of visiting the Glyndebourne festival so specifically they have left lots of open space so that visitors can really enjoy the atmosphere.
Beyond the ha-ha the countryside opens up and takes your eye to the South Downs beyond. Garden designers of old were brilliant at “borrowing” the landscape making the visitor feel as though the fields beyond were part of the house and garden.
Although formal in layout, and completely appropriate to the grand house and setting, the garden had an informal relaxed feel about it. The final rehearsal night is mostly attended by friends and family of the performers and staff at Glyndebourne and some arrived early to enjoy the warm sunshine.
The wildflower meadow at the front of the house was in the private part of the garden so we felt honoured to walk through and see it.
The golden coreopsis was glowing in the sunshine, just gorgeous!
There were vistas and glimpses and lots of benches that drew the eye and made you want to go exploring.
I can think of worse places to sit!
The formal double borders near the top of the garden are multi-functional as this is the entrance for visitors who arrive by coach and it’s also one of the main routes to the garden from the opera house.
The planting here was voluptuous and summery with box balls and columns of Portuguese laurel holding it all together.
But it wasn’t all about the plants and opera for me. Look at the paving in this shaded courtyard. The old flag stone stones and brick details wouldn’t be the same without the weeds and grass growing in the joints.
And the amazing bronze called The Turning Horse by sculptor Nic Fiddian Green I thought was exquisite – oh to be able to afford to commission such a piece!
The Glyndebourne festival continues until the end of August and full details can be found on the Glyndebourne website. When the festival finishes, the productions are taken on tour and these can be seen at various venues around the country.
(Images: Lisa Cox)