Garden Portrait: Snowshill Manor

Snowshill Manor near Broadway, Gloucestershire, is probably visited mainly for the eclectic collections of the architect, artist and woodworker Charles Paget Wade who purchased the house in 1919. The beautiful honey-coloured stone Cotswold house is set within the fresh green countryside and situated on a steeply sloping plot. To reach the garden from the National Trust car park you walk along a country lane with hedgerows of wild flowers, which in late spring are full of ransoms (wild garlic) and bluebells, before heading uphill through a blossom filled orchard. Areas of rough grass and native trees, hedgerows and shrubbery create a relationship with the garden.

Here you find a series of courtyards, narrow corridors, terraces and ponds among rustic outbuildings.

In spring and summer it is a colourful mix of cottage flowers: columbine, poppies, hardy geraniums, phlox, lupins. White doves in the dovecotes, roses and peonies and tubs of wallflowers; all with a glimpse of the Cotswold landscape beyond. This is quintessential England at its postcard best.

The colours in the garden are mostly blue, mauve and purple-toned which complement the stone, secondary colours are salmon and cream, sparingly used are reds and yellows. Orange is banned. (though I found some distinctly orange looking wallflowers).

“A garden is an extension of the house, a series of outdoor rooms”

wrote Wade following the philosophy of the time.

It is an architect’s garden.
Each room has rustic details and crafted ornaments: gate piers, troughs and cisterns, a sundial, an armillary sundial, a dovecote, a Venetian well-head, a bellcote with the figures of St George and the Dragon, a shrine for a Madonna on the byre roof, a wall-mounted astrological dial.

Many painted in Wade’s preferred colour of turquoise-flushed French blue which he found the best foil to the stone and grass.

It is an organic garden nestling into the surrounding countryside with ease.

Size: 2 acres (0.8 hectare)

  • Street:       Snowshill Manor
  • Postcode:  WR12 7JU
  • City:           Broadway
  • County:     Gloucestershire
  • Country:    United Kingdom

Garden Portrait: Bourton House

Bourton House Garden is one of the best kept secrets of the Cotswolds. The most famous garden in this region is Hidcote which attracts coach loads of visitors from London so can often be a little overcrowded. No problems here. This 3 acre garden surrounding an 18C Manor House is much quieter. Located only a short distance out of Moreton-in-Marsh it is also close to the Batsford Arboretum and Sezincote and a very decent pub.

bourton house

Manor House

The entrance to the gardens is through a magnificent Grade I listed 16C Tithe Barn where you will find merchandise for the home and garden and a pretty decent tea-room.

tithe barn

My visit to this garden was in early June in a year when spring was late in arriving, so there were lots of spring flowers in bloom. It is a plantsman’s garden with unusual, rare and exotic delights. Deep herbaceous borders highlight textures and colour combinations and there are terraces and topiary to provide interest. The Topiary Walk leads into the White Garden, attractively designed around a shallow square pond.

garden view 2

The White Garden

Deep herbaceous borders

Pathways  lead you through to the lawn behind the early 18th century house facing the beautiful raised walk which in turn provides panoramic vistas over the Cotswold countryside. Deep herbaceous borders surround the lawn area.

cottage garden border

18th Century Raised Walk



apple blossom


From here you wander past a Shade House and splendid Knot Garden complete with 19th century statues.

knot garden

The Knot Garden

In the centre of the Knot Garden is a pretty basket-weave pond from the 1851 Great Exhibition, complete with two more elegant herons by Michael Lythgoe. A pretty Fountain Garden brings you to the front of the house and a parterre.

topiary at the front of the house

Parterre with Gazebo by Richard Overs

With lots of interesting plants and features to explore your visit can be much longer than you might expect for a small garden. And in addition to the gardens themselves there is a small glasshouse containing succulents and a Brewhouse with containers and more topiary outside.

Late summer is supposed to be a good time to visit as the garden flourishes when many have run their course, but spring certainly has its own beauties to enjoy.

More lovely walks can be found over at my friend Jo’s place.

Garden Portrait: Hidcote Manor

One of England’s most influential 20th century gardens, Hidcote Manor is situated in the northern Cotswolds close to Chipping Campden. At heart Hidcote is a plantsman’s garden and owes its plant collection to its creator Lawrence Johnston, an American who moved to Hidcote in 1907 with his mother, Mrs Winthrop. Johnston was foremost a botanist and plant collector. At present the National Trust are undertaking a project to restore the gardens to what Vita Sackville-West described as “a jungle of beauty”.

The first time we visited this garden was in July when the roses and lilies were predominant. The Plant House was open to the elements and the wicker chairs entice you to sit and contemplate for a while. Seeing the elderly in their straw hats you could almost imagine yourself to be back in the Edwardian period. The grounds do get very busy as coaches come here from all over the country, but especially day trips from London. The good news is that they remain open until 7 p.m. in the summer so if you are travelling independently then my advice is to stay until late – that way you can see the gardens without the crowds. Our second visit was the beginning of June after a very cold spring and the gardens were quite different then. The colours were mostly pink and purple with alliums, lilacs, irises and peonies most prominent.

The gardens are spectacular – with lots of ‘rooms’ such as the White Garden, the Maple Garden, the Old Garden and the Pillar Garden and between them you have the borders. Don’t miss the Long Walk – at the end you have glorious views over the Cotswolds. And don’t forget the Long Borders.

(click on a photo to take a walk through the gardens with me)

  • Street:        Hidcote Bartrim
  • Postcode:   GL55 6LR
  • City:            Chipping Campden
  • County:      Gloucestershire
  • Country:    United Kingdom
  • Website:    Hidcote Manor and Gardens

Kiftsgate Court Gardens: three generations of women gardeners

Whilst visiting the Cotswolds in late May / early June we returned to one of the National Trust’s most exciting garden for plantsmen, Hidcote Manor. But more about that particular garden later. Within walking distance of Hidcote is Kiftsgate. The fact that it has been created and designed by women intrigued me. As a fan of Gertrude Jekyll I was interested to see what ideas other women could bring to a garden. Bought by Heather Muir and her husband after the Great War the garden was inspired by Hidcote and what Lawrence Johnstone was doing there. But it is a unique garden, not least because of the steep banks to the south of the house and marvellous views over the surrounding countryside; creatively designed and planted over the years by Heather, her daughter Diany Binni and granddaughter Anne Chambers.

Colour plays a large part in the design and forms a rich tapestry. Immediately next to the house and tea-room is Four Squares and Terrace, where a sundial forms the central point. The design is formal and edged by box, but the planting is not. Clumps of showy peonies, roses and honeysuckle mixed with salvia shock you with their beauty and fragrance. On the terrace with views towards Bredon and the Malvern Hills are two large terracotta pots filled with tulips in the spring. As spring was very late this year (2013) they were still blooming. You are then led along the Wide Border with its colour scheme of pinks and purples to the sunken original White Garden where the planting is no longer completely white. Paths lead you through to the new Water Garden which is very different in style being much more contemporary. The twenty-four stainless steel stems are topped with gilded bronze leaves moulded from a philodendron. They sway in the breeze and water drips from the leaves providing a soothing and relaxing tranquil spot in the busy garden.

The steep slopes have been made into terraces and steps lead down to the Lower Garden with views over the Vale of Evesham. Here you find more exotic planting which gives it a Mediterranean feel and there is a half-moon shaped swimming pool. Climbing back up the steep paths to the terrace you are glad to make your way to the tea-room for a glass of something cool.

(click on a photo to accompany me on a walk through this extraordinary garden)

  • Street:         Kiftsgate Court Gardens, Chipping Campden
  • Postcode:    GL55 6LR
  • City:             Gloucester
  • County:       Gloucestershire
  • Country:     United Kingdom