|Remembering Rosemary Verey
Rosemary Verey, legendary gardener, prolific and influential writer, popular lecturer, and deft designer, died May 31 of pneumonia. She was 82.
I first met Rosemary Verey in the mid-1980s, at a dinner party in Kansas City. She was touring American gardens, researching for her book The American Woman's Garden. The garden of my friends, sisters Virginia and Sarah Weatherly, was on her agenda (and later was one of the gardens profiled in the book). I remember being a little daunted to meet a famous gardener and one of my heroines, but Mrs. Verey was entirely down to earth and approachable. When she learned my husband and I were planning a trip to England a couple of months later, she immediately invited us to visit Barnsley House, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.
The visit to Barnsley House was a dream fulfilled. We wandered the garden for hours, studying plants, taking notes and photographs, sitting and drinking it all in. After visiting hours, when the gates were locked, we retired to her roomy kitchen for tea, where Rosemary -- by this time we were on a first-name basis -- put the kettle on and handed me a tin, saying "Put out some biscuits, won't you, dear?" I felt entirely at home, and wished never to leave.
Although the entire garden was inspiring, my favorite part was the decorative kitchen garden, with its patterned plantings and whimsically trained fruit trees. I'd seen photos of the potager at Villandry, one of the inspirations for this little garden, but compared to that massive French potager, the kitchen garden at Barnsley House was pretty rather than grand, friendly rather than sterile. I do think that Rosemary Verey is largely responsible for the popularity of attractive vegetable gardens, and for emboldening home gardeners to bring their kitchen gardens out from behind the garage to take pride of place in the landscape.
For more information about Rosemary Verey and the gardens at Barnsley House, go to www.opengarden.co.uk.