The Laskett by Roy Strong
This is a portrait of a marriage expressed through the vision and mystery of creating a garden. Neither the author, Roy Strong, nor his wife, the designer Julia Trevelyan Oman, had foreseen this when they eloped and married in 1971. More than thirty years later they found themselves surrounded by the largest and most important formal garden established in this country since 1945. But it is not so much the horticultural triumph that will grip the reader as what this garden on the Welsh Borders in Herefordshire came to mean in the lives of its creators. Into the Laskett they etched their own biographies, including many of the people who crossed their lives and are commemorated within it. That galaxy embraces not only garden icons, like Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe and Ian Hamilton Finlay, but figures as varied as the photographer Sir Cecil Beaton, the painter John Piper and the fashion designer Jean Muir. It also enshrines memories of the great choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton, of the Prince of Wales and his garden at Highgrove, as well as a colourful pageant of minor characters from mole catchers to cats. The Laskett is the unique story of someone who, with his wife, has been at the centre of the arts for half a century. A great love affair, a haunting and human tale of a garden as the domain of ghosts and as the habitat of memory, within its confines can be found both joy and happiness as well as the tears of tragedy. No-one who reads this book will put it down unmoved.