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May 20, 2024

Destination: Cotswolds

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10 Cotswold Gardens you Must Visit

When you think of the Cotswolds, many picture the famous dry-stone walls and honey coloured cottages that line the narrow streets. Not forgetting the rolling hills, lush green landscapes dotted with sheep and abundance of fields and woodland which all make up the classic picture perfect Cotswold scene.  

Whilst these characteristics define the area, there are also beautiful gardens dotted around which are just a must-see for horticultural enthusiasts.  

These gardens offer a tranquil space away from the hustle and bustle of the busy villages during the summer months. But with the changing British seasons, the gardens are managed and sculpted to delight at any time of year. Offering visitors the chance to see historic country houses set amongst these picturesque gardens and an array of plant and flower species local to Britain as well as international varieties.  

We’ve explored 10 of the best gardens across the Cotswold area that are well worth including as part of your visit to the area.  

 

Hidcote Gardens

Hidcote Manor Gardens
Hidcote Manor Gardens. Image: Shutterstock, David Hughes

This National Trust garden is located near the famous village of Chipping Campden, giving you the ideal opportunity to enjoy a relaxing day out whilst in the area. This Arts and Crafts garden is renowned for its intricate outdoor “rooms,” each with its own unique character and planting scheme. Created by talented designed Major Lawrence Johston and covering an area of 10.5 acres the gardens take you on a journey revealing different atmospheres and vistas at every turn. 

The garden is almost split into four by two corridors running north to south and east to west, off which the garden rooms can be found. Check to see if they are opening for the ‘golden hour’ events which allow you to visit the gardens between 6-9pm in the on selected dates over the summer months. You’ll be able to enjoy the gardens during the glorious golden light that casts over the garden on a late summers evening. What’s more there is usually food and live music to be enjoyed at the same time.  

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/gloucestershire-cotswolds/hidcote

Address: Hidcote Bartrim, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, GL55 6LR

Kiftsgate Court Gardens

Kiftsgate Gardens
Garden door at Kiftsgate Court Gardens. Image: Shutterstock, Lois GoBe

Created by three generations of women gardeners, Kiftsgate is the epitome of a romantic English Garden. Elegant hedges, beautiful colours amongst the borders and wild flower areas bursting with life. From the grand house down steps on to the Terrace you can enjoy spectacular views over the vale of Evesham and on towards the Malvern Hills. 

Visit during the summer months and your senses will be overpowered by the rose border, filled with a mixture of old fashioned and modern roses. Not forgetting the famous Kiftsgate Rose which they claim to be England’s largest rose. Early to mid-July is a good time to see the remarkable rose smother three trees, resembling a cascading waterfall amongst the foliage.  

Website: https://www.kiftsgate.co.uk/home#welcome

Address: Kiftsgate Court Gardens, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, GL55 6LN

Highgrove Gardens

Gardens at Highgrove. Image: highgrove.com
Gardens at Highgrove. Image: highgrove.com

These famous gardens need little introduction being the estate and treasured home of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla. Open from March to October every year, visitors can explore the organic gardens at Highgrove, soaking up the history and inspiration behind the magnificent grounds. 

There are seven areas of the garden divided up into the Kitchen Garden, The Arboretum, The Stumpery, Cottage Garden. Sundial Garden, Thyme Walk and the Wildflower Meadow. You can enjoy a group or private tour amongst the gardens and also include a classic, British Afternoon tea or Champagne tea as part of your visit. 

The gardens, especially the Kitchen Garden is one not to miss. The Kitchen Garden is dual purpose, providing aesthetic pleasure for guests as well as serving as a food source for the household when his Majesty King Charles III is present. 

The crops and flowers are also used in seasonal menus at the Orchard Room Restaurant. From rare purple carrots to a mass of strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries, you can truly see from garden to plate a selection of what the British Monarch eats! Do make sure you book on to a tour in advance to gain access to Highgrove. 

Website: https://www.highgrovegardens.com/

Address: Highgrove, GL8 8TQ

Wychwood Wild Garden

Wychwood wild garden
Blossom tree in Wychwood Wild Garden. Image: wychwoodwildgarden.org.uk

A magical woodland near Shipton-Under-Wychwood in the heart of the Cotswolds. Certainly a ‘hidden gem’ and a lesser known area of nature in comparison to the more famous gardens. It’s 12.5 acres of woodland walks, ponds and water areas. The woodland is left relatively untouched and therefore nature including many varieties of ducks and birds, thrive amongst the branches and waterways. 

This location is ideal to add as part of a longer stay in the Cotswolds. Visit the pretty village of Shipton-under-Wychwood which is home to a magnificent church and quaint village green. Enjoy the fantastic English country pub of the Lamb Inn and take a stroll amongst the many avenues of the Wychwood Wild Garden. Popular with locals for their walks and daily exercise, you’ll feel a sense of calm and tranquility. It is free to visit and a fantastic place to take a break from the sunshine on a hot day and enjoy stunning autumnal colours during the cooler months.  

Website: https://www.wychwoodwildgarden.org.uk/

Address: Wychwood Wild Gardens, OX7 6DG (accessed via Dog Kennel Lame)

Batsford Arboretum

Batsford-arboretum
Woodland at Batsford Arboretum. Image: Batsford Arboretum

Just outside Moreton-in-Marsh is another fabulous Cotswold garden retreat. Batsford Arboretum houses a unique collection of some of the worlds most beautiful and rare trees, shrubs and bamboos. Spread across 60 acres there is plenty to explore and this extends into all seasons. The beauty of this garden is that there is a breadth of colour early in the year, from snowdrops and then into the spring-flowering bulbs. The spectacular Japanese flowing cherries carry on the colour before heading into the summer season. 

With much of the Arboretum under tree canopy this is another ideal haven to escape the occasional ‘heat-wave’ that England experiences. The Autumn months burst into the colour of flames with vibrant reds, oranges and deep butter tallow. Then come the winter, it is a magical wonderland with ice, frost and snow adorning the branches and shimmering on the grasses and plants. There is a delightful garden centre and café to finish your day and provide further inspiration for your own gardens.  

Website: https://batsarb.co.uk/

Address: Batsford Arboretum and Garden Centre, Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 9AT

Sudeley Castle and Gardens

Knot Gardens at Sudeley Castle
Knot Gardens at Sudeley Castle. Image: Shutterstock, abcbritain

Within reach of Cheltenham and Bourton-on-the-Water, the impressive Sudeley Castle and Gardens is an opulent historic castle set amongst lavish grounds for you to explore. With royal connections spanning a thousand years, Sudeley Castle has played an important role in the turbulent and changing times of England’s past. Today Sudeley Castle remains the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within the grounds – Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII – who lived and died in the castle. 

Amongst all this history, the gardens surround the castle, intertwined with ruins and significant planting and foliage that would have played key roles during the Tudor period and other periods of Sudleys history. With striking views of the Cotswold Hills, these award winning gardens are not to be missed. For younger guests there is an equally brilliant play area, making for a perfect family outing.

Website: https://sudeleycastle.co.uk

Address: Sudeley Castle & Gardens, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, GL54 5JD

Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt Arboretum Lime trees
Westonbirt Arboretum Lime trees in woodland. Image: Shutterstock, P J Photography

With over 2,500 different species of plants and trees from all over the globe, Westonbirt Arbortetum brings an exotic edge to the Cotswolds. The National Arboretum is the perfect place for relaxation or adventure, or perhaps a combination! With plenty of tranquil walks including specifically designed wellbeing trails, the forest is the place to pause and connect with nature before heading back to exploring the Cotswold towns.  

If you prefer something more energetic there are running and biking trails amongst the forest. Take in the colours, scents and sounds as you go and best of all it’s traffic free! You can easily spend an entire day exploring the 600 acres of woodland and trails, with 17 miles of accessible hard and grassy paths, the Westonbirt Arboretum is a wonderful place for all to enjoy. 

Located near to Tetbury it is somewhere to include alongside a trip to Highgrove. In contrast to the grandeur of Highgrove, Westonbirt Arboretum offers classic British woodland with rugged, un-manicured landscapes and countryside.  

Website: https://www.forestryengland.uk/westonbirt-the-national-arboretum

Address: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Tetbury, GL8 8QS

Snowshill Manor and Gardens

nychthemeron-clock-snowshill-manor
Nychthemeron clock at Snowshill Manor. Image: National Trust, Kate Groome

Located near Broadway, this National Trust site is in the heart of the Cotswolds, the perfect antidote to a busy itinerary of Cotswold exploring. Snowshill is the unconventional home of the eccentric Charles Wade, who delighted in creating a stage for his life and passions. The Arts and Crafts garden is an extension of the house, a series of outdoor rooms. It is filled with curious doorways, hidden vistas and unexpected delights. 

There is a large and vibrant clock (pictured above), the surface of which is painted with characters from the zodiac and astronomical symbols. Wolf’s Cove is a another unique garden feature of a model harbour based on a typical Cornish fishing village. Charles Wade designed and built the miniature scene to delight anyone who came to visit. 

In contrast to these quirky pieces, you’ll find corners of pure tranquility, with far reaching views and beautiful planting to pause time and step away from the rush. Finish you visit with a cup of tea in the Café to enjoy the stunning views of the valley. 

Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/gloucestershire-cotswolds/snowshill-manor-and-garden

Address: Snowshill, near Broadway, Gloucestershire, WR12 7JU

Sezincote Gardens

Sezincote House and gardens
Elephant sculptures looking towards Sezincote House. Image: Shutterstock, Will-o-the-wisp

Dubbed the ‘India of the Cotswolds’ these 3,500 acre gardens offer visitors a unique experience. Amongst the family-run estate you’ll find a 200-year-old Mogul Indian palace, set in a romantic landscape of temples, grottoes, waterfalls and canals reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. Today a brother and sister team manage the house and estate respectively. Sezincote surprises and delights from all angles. Whilst the gardens and woodlands are run to traditional English standards, using mixed farming methods, the house is far from English tradition. 

It was built in the “Indian Style”, a unique combination of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Parts of the gardens are evocative of Indian Moghul paradise gardens whilst in other parts you’ll find nods to English tradition such as the tall English Oaks that line the driveway and entice you into this magnificent juxtaposition. 

Located near Moreton-in-Marsh and Stown-on-the-Wold this offers a completely unique horticultural experience and centered right in the heart of the Cotswolds it is within easy reach during your stay.

Website: https://www.sezincote.co.uk/

Address: Sezincote, near Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 9AW

Painswick Rococo Garden

Spring at Painswick Rococo Gardens
Spring flowers at Painswick Rococo Gardens. Image: Shutterstock, P J Photography

Last but not least, located near the famous Cotswold town of Painswick, these gardens offer the ability to step away from the tourist trails. The word ‘rococo’ describes a period of art that was fashionable in Europe in the 1700s, characterised by ornamental decoration, the use of pastel colours and asymmetry. As the Uk’s only complete, surviving Rococo Garden this is a place to forget the stresses of everyday life. A place for fun, adventure and exploration. A place to relax, to restore, and to rediscover. 

Whatever the nature of your visit you’ll discover a haven of peace and tranquility, sprinkled with quirky features to surprise and delight you. As expected with the location, this garden offers stunning views of the Cotswolds without the jostle of tourists or having to pull over on a country lane to admire the view! From woodland walks, magical follies and an unusual maze there is joy to be found outdoors in Painswick Rococo Gardens. 

Another garden that delivers colour and beauty year round but we think May is one of the best months to visit. The warmer weather brings everything into full bloom, with vibrant colours and delicate smells.

Website: https://www.rococogarden.org.uk/

Address: Painswick Rococo Garden, Painswick, Gloucestershire, GL6 6TH

We recommend adding in one or two of these gardens depending on your length of stay. Some of the smaller gardens can be enjoyed for just a couple of hours and offer a welcome respite from the more crowded places. You may like to spend a day at the larger estates such as Highgrove and Westonbirt Arboretum. 

Particularly in the warmer months, gardens and woodland offer shade and cooler air underneath the canopies of the trees. Whilst during the wetter months, woodlands also act as a natural barrier between you and the elements, keeping you slightly more protected whilst still allowing you to enjoy nature.  So whichever season you find yourself in England, be sure to incorporate these beautiful open spaces into your visit.

Our Cotswold tours visit many of these gardens listed. We are also happy to create bespoke, private tours that incorporate attractions to your liking. Please contact us for more information.   

Experienced by

Sophie

Content Marketing Manager

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