Now that the colours of autumn are slowly starting to fade away as daylight hours shorten, we all need something to look forward to. Summer cannot come soon enough, so we would like to invite you on a virtual stroll to some of the most wonderful and glorious Cotswold gardens when they are at their best. Perhaps the vibrant display of flowers, impressive design elements, and unique plants will inspire you to sow seeds and plant bulbs in your own garden, however big or small, whilst waiting for spring to arrive and dreaming of your next adventure in the Cotswolds.
What is so special about Cotswold gardens?
The gardens of the Cotswolds are widely celebrated and attract visitors from all over the world. From traditional English country gardens featuring beautiful herbaceous borders, topiary and wildflower meadows in perfect balance, to the ones with intriguing designs such as the Arts and Crafts style ‘garden rooms’ or the grandiose and perfectly landscaped ones with royal connections. The Cotswolds is blessed with an abundance of extraordinary gardens for all seasons. There is something for everyone to enjoy: rare plants, unique design ideas, spectacular views of the English countryside, and fascinating stories about the gardens and their owners, past and present. What is more, the honey-coloured cottages and emerald green rolling hills provide the perfect backdrop to the roses, delphiniums, sweet peas, lilies, lavenders, and the like that burst into a riot of colour during the spring and summer months, transforming the area into a land straight out of a fairytale.
Some of our favourite Cotswold gardens
One of the most exciting events in the Cotswolds is when we all get to take a sneak peek behind the façades of the historic streets of Chipping Campden: the weekend of Open Gardens. Every year, twenty or more private gardens open their gates to the public and the owners share their gardening knowledge. From tiny cottage gardens to larger landscaped ones, there is a fascinating variety of methods and styles to explore and learn about. The uniqueness of this event lies in the personal nature of the experience, with owners opening up about their gardening successes and failures, sharing top tips and words of wisdom with an appreciative audience. What makes the event even more special is that all proceeds go to local charities, supporting the community and preserving the Cotswolds landscape.
Moving away from the private gardens but still staying near Chipping Campden, a trip to Hidcote Manor Gardens is a true delight for all the senses. This Arts and Crafts-style garden will inspire visitors with its secret outdoor ‘rooms’ full of surprises, magnificent vistas, and extraordinary plants was created by the American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston. Hidcote comprises of a series of smaller gardens within a garden, all full of intriguing design elements, such as rare shrubs and trees, borders bursting with colour, extraordinary water features, and wildflower meadows. As we move further away from the house, the garden seamlessly transitions from regimented and manicured to untamed and naturalistic. What is most remarkable about Hidcote is the triumph of stubbornness and expertise over practicality: against all odds (elevated and exposed location with poor soil), Hidcote became one of the finest gardens in England.
Next, we visit the magnificently landscaped Upton Wold, tucked away in beautiful Cotswolds countryside. This wonderful, privately owned garden was created over thirty years with admirable dedication and meticulous attention to the finer details. Upton Wold has various intriguing features waiting to be discovered, from the Pond Garden to the Hidden Garden, and even an arboretum of walnut trees, which is part of the National Collections of Juglans. Three full-time gardeners work tirelessly to take care of the garden and to enrich Upton Wold’s collection of unusual plants.
Our next stop falls nothing short of astonishing: a medieval moated and fortified manor house set in magnificent parkland. The gardens of Broughton Castle boast all the features characteristic of a finely landscaped Cotswolds garden: formal borders with carefully selected colour themes, dry stone wall boundaries, archways with roses leading into hidden gardens, and finely manicured topiary. Beyond the beauty of the gardens and the manor house, there is much more waiting to be discovered at Broughton Castle. A private guided tour will uncover the fascinating stories about the house and its owners over the centuries. Today, Broughton Castle is the home of the Fiennes family, the same family lineage as the Hollywood actors.
We continue with no less than a tour of the private garden of HRH The Prince of Wales: Highgrove Royal Gardens, renowned as one of the most inspiring and innovative in the United Kingdom. HRH The Prince of Wales created Highgrove with his environmental philosophy in mind, to work with nature rather than against it, which made him one of the forerunners of organic gardening in the UK. Over the last 40 years, His Royal Highness has created an extraordinary and very personal garden with the help of some of the UK’s top garden designers, and with the garden featuring some very special plants gifted to His Royal Highness by Sir Elton John and the Dalai Lama. All proceeds go to the Prince’s Charitable Trust.
Our last stop on this virtual stroll is the garden of Daglingworth House, that wonderfully combines the elegant and the fanciful. This privately owned garden was created over the past 25 years. The owners, David and Etta Howard, have created a delightful, classical garden with a humorous contemporary twist. Unique sculptures and topiary shapes add a comical and light-hearted touch to the garden. Its two acres consists of a walled garden, temple, grotto, pools, wonderful views and much more.
Join us on our Cotswold Gardens Tour
If you enjoyed reading about some of our favourite gardens, we hope we can welcome you – in person – on our Cotswold Gardens Tour next summer! Join us to experience the charm of the Cotswolds and let us guide you to all these spectacular gardens and more. Enjoy breathtaking scenery, honey-coloured cottages, roses over the door, cream teas, picnics, pub lunches and a tipple of something local. We can’t wait to welcome you and create memories to last a lifetime.
Whilst waiting for summer to arrive, you may also wish to sign up to one of our webinars. Grab a cup of tea and join us to find out what it’s like to walk the ancient network of footpaths, and let our expert guides show you the Cotswolds as they see it, with the opportunity to ask us anything! Please visit our website to find out more and to sign up.
|Husband and wife team Andrew and Elizabeth Guppy lead Cotswold Walks, specialising in customised self-guided and guided walking holidays in the Cotswolds. Living and working in the Cotswolds is an essential part of what makes their company special. As avid walkers, they can often be found walking the routes with their dog Indie. |
Andrew and Elizabeth are passionate about what they do. They strive to take you on a tour that showcases the best of the Cotswolds, from iconic gardens and fabulous local food, to sweeping vistas over the emerald green countryside dotted with honey-coloured cottages. Through careful planning and attention to detail, the mission of Cotswold Walks is to ensure you have complete peace of mind, so you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the Cotswolds and create lasting memories.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France, England and other European countries.