As many of you may remember, I have a great affection for Orangeries; not only my own, but others as well. The exquisite example at Kensington Palace in London may also serve tea, but the first appeal for me was how their Orangery worked within the whole garden scheme at this lovely royal residence.
The first lesson in good garden design was the approach to the freestanding Orangery, which is not on the same level as the Palace but behind and on a higher piece of the property. A zigzag path takes you uphill through a maze of clipped beech shrubs, now a golden brown (another nod to the gardeners–it is for this winter color that many gardeners chose to design with beech, myself included).
At the top of the path is laid out before you a welcome winter-green garden, so peaceful with its gentle three-stepped layers.
Turning left from the garden gate, a long bower of arched branches sharpens the focal point at the end of the path–the classical Orangery.
As you get further along the path and the classical details of the Orangery become more apparent, tall columnar clipped trees add a formal note. Wooden benches, interspersed along the path, invite you to pause and break your journey if you choose. It is a gracious gesture that speaks to a garden’s sensibilities.
The clasical eighteenth century interior is a long, high ceilinged space with dramatically tall windows that make for wonderful views of the grounds. It is not difficult to understand its past as a royal garden pavilion for court entertainment.
The carved wooden garlands with their floral motifs are a singular break in the all-white space that suggest a distinction to the two smaller, more intimate rooms at either end.
As you depart, there is a magic to the view that will take you back down the wonderful easy pebble path and through the arched bower…an enclosure that urges you on.