Lydney Park Gardens

Some of the most magical gardens in the Cotswolds are located in Lydney Park between Gloucester and the Forest of Dean.  The Lydney Park mansion was built by the Wintour Family, well-known supporters of King Charles 1.  The estate passed to Benjamin Bathurst in the year 1719, and it has remained in that family ever since.  At Lydney Park, you can visit the Spring Gardens, Forestry & Sawmill, Dairy Farm, and Roman Ruins.

The Sawmill is a working mill which provides hourly cutting of oak, red cedar, and Douglas Fir.  At the Dairy Farm, you can purchase locally produced dairy products and caught venison and other game.  The Spring Gardens are of course the main feature at Lydney Park, splendidly cultivated with magnolias, cherry trees, acers, azaleas, rhododendrons, and other beautiful trees and flowers.  These delightful gardens have a woodland feel with a sense of wilderness preserved.  In the gardens you can also view the Roman Ruins which were excavated on the property in 1805, which include the remnants of a Roman camp and temple.  A Romano-British sculpture of a dog in cast bronze is the most prominent feature, and has become the symbol for this gorgeous Cotswolds estate.

Lydney Park

Lyndey Park Website

Cerney House Gardens

If you are visiting Gloucestershire and are near the town of Cheltenham, you may want to take a few hours to visit the Cerney House Gardens.  These walled gardens belonged to Lady Angus and her daughter Barbara.  Previously, Barbara had no experience with gardening, but Lady Angus did, and together, they were able to cultivate a wonderland of floral beauty inside the old Victorian walls.  Initially, the garden struggled, but Lady Angus and Barbara were diligent, dedicating all of their time to cultivating it.  Over the years, this little garden has grown in fame and flourished.

Inside, you’ll find tulips, daffodils, snowdrops and many other beautiful species of flowers.  The garden, while clearly cultivated, has a wilder and more organic feel to it than many of the more orderly English gardens in the Cotswolds, and a smaller and more intimate feel.  You can also purchase hand-made cheeses at the shop on the grounds.  The Cerney House Gardens are also home to local goats, and several types of artisan cheeses are available for you to try.  These gardens are a great opportunity to get away from the bustle of Cheltenham and see some of the finest cultivated land in Gloucestershire.

Cerney House Gardens

Bourton House Gardens

Visitors to the Cotswolds who love English manor houses and gardens won’t want to miss the Bourton House while visiting the village of Bourton-on-the-Hill.  Bourton-on-the-Hill is located in Gloucestershire two miles west of Moreton-in-Marsh, some of the most scenic countryside in the Cotswolds.  The Bourton House has a history dating back to at least 1570, the date on the dedication stone preserved on the site.  The stately manor was then rebuilt by Sir Nicholas Overbury in 1598 in the Jacobean style.  Considered unfashionable, it was rebuilt once more in the early 18th century by Alexander Popham.  The house has changed its form in some respects over the intervening years, but is otherwise intact.

Bourton House is known for its elegant English garden more than any other feature.  At the Bourton House Garden, you will find expansive green lawns offering lovely views of the house itself, comfortable garden benches in shady corners, artistically trimmed hedges, whimsically sculpted trees and bushes, and colorful fruits, vegetables, and flowers adorning the garden beds.  A neatly trimmed hedge maze offers visitors the chance to explore a charming knot garden.  The Bourton House garden may not be as large as some other gardens in the region, but it is among the most beautifully cultivated.

Bourton House Gardens

Batsford Arboretum

If you love trees, flowers, and the delights of nature, you will want to make some time during your Cotswolds trip to visit Batsford Arboretum. The arboretum is located on 55 acres of richly cultivated land near the town of Batsford near Moreton In Marsh in Gloucestershire. The arboretum was first cultivated by Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale, who inherited the land in 1886 and was inspired by the gardens he saw while traveling in Asia. Today, the arboretum is maintained by a charity and is open to visitors throughout the year.

What is there to see at Batsford? The diverse collection of trees on site includes acers, bamboos, magnolias, Japanese Maples, Mountain Ash, Japanese Cherries, and much more. You will also see Asian sculptures, bridges, lily ponds, and other lovely features. The layout of the gardens is unique, since the style was inspired by gardens which Freeman-Mitford saw while in China and Japan. Bringing together these Far East styles with traditional English cultivation styles, Freeman-Mitford created a matchless park. The Batsford Arboretum is one of the largest and most beautiful landscaped areas in the Cotswolds. A café is conveniently located on site so that you can take a break and get a bite to eat while exploring the park.

Bastford Arboretum

Batsford Arboretum Website

Kiftsgate Court Gardens

Kiftsgate Court is a manor located between Mickleton and Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire near the border with Worcestershire and Warwickshire.  The manor house is most famous for its gardens.  The Kiftsgate Court Gardens were first planted in the 1920s by Heather Muir, and were then passed on to Diany Binny in 1950.  They are currently overseen by Anne Chambers, who resides in Kiftsgate Manor.  While the manor is a private home, the garden is open to the public.

The Kiftsgate Court Gardens include many beautiful flowers and hedges in a lovely layout.  They are most well known for the Kiftsgate Rose, a white climbing rose.  Kiftsgate Rose grows well in the shade, and it is said that the largest rose in Britain, a climbing rose measuring 80 feet, grows in the Court Gardens.  According to Chambers, if the rose plant were not trimmed back, it would be even larger.

The rose plant is currently intruding on the space of a nearby beech tree, which is why it needs to be carefully pruned.  The rose is famous not only for its size, but also for the beautiful perfumed smell which wafts out across the gardens.

Kiftsgate Court Gardens

Hidcote Manor Gardens

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.

Hidcote Gardens

More information at The National Trust Hidcote Gardens website


Westonbirt Arboretum

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 Gardens

Westonbirt Arboretum Website

Snowshill Manor

Snowshill Manor is one of the best known manor houses in the Cotswolds, and is certainly the most famous landmark near the village of Snowshill.  Located in Gloucestershire near Broadway, Snowshill was originally owned by the Winchcombe Abbey from 821 until 1539.  That was the year of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, after which Henry VIII took over the property.  It changed hands a number of times over the next several centuries, and was eventually taken by Charles Paget Wade, a famous architect, craftsman and collector.  Once he had charge of Snowshill, he made it his task to restore the property in full.  Today Snowshill Manor still houses his diverse and fascinating collections.

 While the house itself is quite beautiful, Wade’s collections are perhaps the main draw to tourists, who come to see his 26 samurai armor suits, instruments, bicycles, toys and other assorted items of interest.  Wade was known to be a flamboyant and mysterious person.  He entertained many famous guests in his manor house including J.B. Priestley, Virginia Woolf, John Buchan and others.  J. B. Priestley famously described Wade as, “My eccentric, but charming friend of the fantastic manor house.”

Snowshill itself is a small village and not among the better known destinations in the Cotswolds, though it does offer some off-the-beaten-path charm.  As you might guess from its name, Snowshill is situated atop a hill which overlooks the countryside of Broadway, Laverton and Buckland, and during the colder months of the year, if snow is going to collect anywhere, it collects in Snowshill first.  While you’re visiting the Snowshill Manor, you  might choose to stay in Snowshill or in one of the other nearby market towns.  Snowshill may be recognizable to you from the filming of Bridget Jones’s Diary.  From the hillside vantage point, Snowshill offers lovely views of the tree-covered hillsides, Snowshill Manor is also known for the Lavender Fields nearby.  There are many wonderful accommodations in town, and while you’re staying in Snowshill you’ll definitely want to visit the Snowshill Arms Pub.

Snowshill Manor

Rococo Garden

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.

Painswick Rococo Garden

Snowshill Lavender Fields

Snowshill Lavender Fields One intriguing and beautiful destination in the Cotswolds is the Snowshill Lavender Fields.  You’ll find the farm nearby Snowshill village, located on a hilltop which overlooks the larger market town of Broadway.  The farm includes row upon row of lavender plants—fifty three acres in all.  There are thirty-five different types of lavender planted in the field.  The farm is most attractive in the summertime prior to the harvest (which begins in July and runs through August).  During this time the rows are in bloom, presenting visitors with a bright, beautiful, and boldly colourful sight.

 While you’re visiting the Snowshill farm, you can stroll through the fields at your leisure and enjoy the beautiful sights and scents.  The scent of the lavender is very lovely and atmospheric.  At the farm you can also learn about the harvesting of the plant and the distillation process for making essential oils, as well as the uses of those oils.  Lavender essential oil not only smell wonderful, but also is used in aromatherapy as a relaxation aid which can relieve stress, anxiety, and tension headaches.  Lavender is also great for your hair, which is why it’s included in many shampoos.  You can make a hair rinse using lavender which you can buy at the shop.

At the store, you’ll be able to find pretty much any and every product you can imagine infused with lavender.  In bath products you’ll find lavender hand cleanser, soap, foaming bath soak, body scrub, body wash, bath salts, cleansing face wash, and more.  You’ll also find health products like lavender slumber gel, muscle rub, and massage oil.  House products include drawer liners, room fragrance, linen spray, incense, and candles.  And of course you can buy dried lavender in bulk or a bottle of lavender essential oil.

While you’re visiting the Snowshill Lavender Fields, make sure to stop by the Tea Room where you can try out lavender infused treats like lavender scones or shortbread!  If you come during lunch time you can also have a hot meal of soup and sandwiches.  Recipes for some of these treats are included online so you can make them yourself at home later using cooking lavender which you purchase at the shop.  It’s a great way to take a little piece of the Cotswolds home with you and relieve your memories, as is purchasing any product from the shop.  Smells associate strongly with our memories, so anytime you smell one of the lavender products you purchased at the farm, you’ll be taken right back to your memories of visiting the Cotswolds.

Where should you stay while you’re visiting the farm?  You can find accommodations at the delightful little town of Snowshill, which offers a lovely view of the surrounding countryside, or you might choose instead to stay in Broadway, which is a larger town that includes more attractions than Snowshill itself.  Don’t forget to stop by the Snowshill Manor and the Broadway Tower while you’re in the area.  While the lavender fields can easily take up an afternoon, there are many other things to see and do while you’re in this part of Gloucestershire.

snowshill lavender