The beautiful Hidcote Manor houses and gardens of the Cotswolds are among the biggest draws of the English countryside for many visitors. One of the most beautiful and well tended is Hidcote Manor Garden, located near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. This stately English garden was actually created by an American expatriate named Lawrence Johnston.
Hidcote Manor Garden is best known for its layout of “rooms” which are interlinked together and feature beautiful hedges, shrubs, and flowers. The garden is currently in the care of the National Trust, and was originally inspired by the gardening work of Alfred Parsons and Gertrude Jekyll. Flowers and trees include hellebores, magnolias, narcissi, skunk cabbage, handkerchief trees, tulips, alliums, wisteria, and more.
When you explore Hidcote Manor Garden, you will explore “rooms” outdoors created by hedges, yew, hornbeam, and artificially constructed stone walls. The rooms each contain different flowers, herbs, and other plants, ponds, fountains, and other beautiful features. The gardens themselves are certainly the main feature of the manor and its biggest attraction, but there are other fun activities which you can also participate in while you are visiting. You can play tennis or croquet, hunt for insects, or learn about gardening in a family learning workshop. Classes are offered in tree climbing, and you can also embark on wildlife watches to see bats and other animals which come out around sunset.
More information at The National Trust Hidcote Gardens website
If you love nature and horticulture and are visiting the Cotswolds, you will want to make sure that Westonbirt Arboretum is on your itinerary. This National Arboretum is situated near the market town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire. The arboretum is probably the most famous in all of the UK, and was originally planted in the middle of the 19th century by Robert Stayner Holford. Following his death, it was passed onto his son, George Lindsay Holford, and then to the Earl of Morley, and finally to the Forestry Commission, which manages the beautiful park today.
At Westonbirt, you’ll be able to explore an elegantly cultivated landscape with more than 18,000 trees and shrubs, planted within 600 acres. There are 27 kilometers of paths to explore, taking visitors to the two main areas of the park, the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood. The Old Arboretum has a more cultivated look than the Silk Wood, which offers an experience closer to that of a wild forest. The Old Arboretum features the stately grounds which so many visitors to the Cotswolds associate with the English countryside. Many rare trees, bushes, flowers, and other plants can be found in the Old Arboretum and the Silk Wood, including some of the tallest or largest of their kind in the entire country. These special trees and plants are marked as “champions” with blue labels to identify them to visitors.
With so much to see and do, you could probably easily spend days in the Arboretum exploring and learning about trees and flowers. So if you are only going to be in the area a short while and you only have a few hours to spend in the Arboretum, you will definitely want to check the Arboretum’s website first to find out what flowers are in bloom and which leaves are turning. You can also find guides to the 17 miles of trails as well as activities for children and adults.
Depending on what time of year you are in the region, you may be able to visit the Arboretum during one of its annual festivals, Treefest, which features music, camping, and other fun activities in August, or the Enchanted Christmas event. During the Enchanted Christmas event, trees and pathways are illuminated in the evenings so that guests can explore the beauty of the park at nighttime and see the Arboretum in a whole new way.
Westonbirt Arboretum Website
If you are planning a visit and tour of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire then one of the must see attractions is Painswick Rococo Garden. This garden originally constructed in the early 18th Century by Benjamin Hyett can be found in a hidden valley behind Painswick house.
As with a lot of these gardens it had been left unmaintained and was by the 1970’s an overgrown jungle that appeared where the gardens once stood. Historians were very interested in the garden design of the period between 1720 and 1760; it was during this period of time that gardens, especially the gardens of landed gentry were designed as a playground of frivolity for the Georgian gentry to party.
This period of garden design was called Rococo by the garden historians and they encouraged Lord Dickenson a descendant of Hyett to embark on a programme of restoring the gardens to their former glory. It wasn’t until 1988 that the gardens were entrusted to the Painswick Rococo Garden trust that now look after maintain and run the gardens for everyone to enjoy.
The original gardens were painted in 1748 by Thomas Robbins and it is from this painting that much of the restoration work has been completed to restore it to its original state. As a permanent reminder of the original creation of the gardens that being one of a love playground for the Georgian gentry, stands a statue of Pan the God of love at the entrance to the gardens.
It takes around an hour to complete the tour of the gardens, but many people spend hours just strolling through and enjoying the peaceful sedate surroundings of this magical sensual garden. One of the most popular attractions in the garden is the maze which was actually constructed in more recent times and was first planted in 2000 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Painswick Rococo Gardens.
A fantastic focal point of the garden is the kitchen garden planted in the shape of a diamond with paths running alongside the herbs and vegetables, all this produce is used in the on-site restaurant to feed hungry visitors, so if you enjoy locally grown food then it could not be more local than being grown in the garden itself.
When the restoration of the gardens began it was decided to only use plants and flowers that would have been available up to 1745 this gives the garden a real sense of originality. If you love snowdrops then you are in for a real treat if you visit in February, Painswick Rococo Gardens has one of the most naturalistic snowdrop displays in the country.
There are many events laid on throughout the opening year which runs from February to October such as art exhibitions and historical readings in the grounds. Also a popular wedding venue because of its unique settings Painswick Rococo Gardens offer wedding ceremonies, baby naming ceremonies and renewal of vows ceremonies. The backdrop of the gardens and scenery make fantastic wedding photography. The coach house is also available to hire for parties, meetings and other functions along with the catering. There is also a gift shop on site selling a wide range of plants and pots to suit all budgets.