5 of the finest Cotswold gardens to visit
- Credit: ©Finch Publishing
A newly published illustrated map and guide to the Cotswolds’ most beautiful spots covers everything from Jacobean gems and classics of the English landscape movement to some of the finest contemporary gardens around today. Here’s our selection of five to explore today...
Words: Natasha Goodfellow
Illustrations: Jo Parry
Kiftsgate is well known for its spectacular namesake rose (possibly the most vigorous rambler there is) and the fact it is the work of three generations of women gardeners. Less frequently commented upon is the sense of sheer energy about a place that continues to evolve and which holds surprises around every corner, from the newly added mound and water gardens, to the steeply terraced bank where plants seem to cling on for dear life. The semi-circular mirror pool with its jaw-dropping view towards the Malverns is a worthy ﬁnale.
A vast selection of unusual, easy-to-grow perennials and selected shrubs, all propagated by renowned plantsman Bob Brown and his son Edmund. Display beds give you a feel for how the plants might look in the garden, and the nursery is also home to the national collection of Nerine sarniensis, sure to add sparkle to a winter visit.
Just off Chipping Campden’s high street lies this calm little garden dedicated to plant hunter Ernest ‘Chinese’ Wilson, who was born in the town in 1876. It is home to many plants he introduced to the West from his travels, including Prunus serrula, Cornus kousa var. chinensis and the handkerchief tree, Davidia involucrata, which involved Wilson searching an area of China the size of New York State with only a hand-drawn map as his guide.
Well off the beaten track, this ‘hidden garden of the Cotswolds’, as it bills itself, surrounds a solemn 17th-century manor. Step through the 6ft-thick yew hedge to discover its many pleasures, which include a herbaceous border skirted by a rill, a vegetable garden complete with colour-themed borders and an apple walk, an arboretum (home to a national collection of walnuts) through which one arrives at a shaggy labyrinth designed by Hal Moggridge in 2013, and any number of rare trees including Pterocarya fraxinifolia and Emmenopterys henryi.
A 45-acre artiﬁcial lake, an eye-catcher in the form of a Doric temple, sweeping grounds, stately trees and a free hand with the ha-has – this is unmistakably the work of Capability Brown, who oversaw the landscaping here in 1763-68. Other highlights include the squiffy yews on the terrace, Lord and Lady Lansdowne’s private walled gardens (pre-book a tour), and the woodland gardens – a mass of azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons – open only in spring.
A Cotswold Garden Companion (Finch Publishing, £8.50) contains over 50 beautiful gardens to explore. It is available to buy at finchpublishing.co.uk