COTSWOLD GARDEN TOUR: PART 1

English gardens.
Have you ever dreamed about this? Have you been?

I had been to what many consider to be one of the finest : Sissinghurst. Read about it HERE. That visit made me want  to see more! So for the last two years I have been dreaming and exploring ways to see other gardens in Britain.

And so it came to be.
I have A LOT to write about and show you in my two weeks in England! So I will break it down into 3 or 4 posts including garden tour days, some fun doings in London and travel tips and suggestions.

I actually signed up for a Cotswold Garden Tour.  Now I am back home full of ideas, images, an overload of information and many new friends.

I chose to go with
Cotswold Walks,
(this link takes you directly to the Garden Tour page, but be sure to explore the entire site)
a local company that specializes in guided and custom walks all over the Cotswolds. But they also run this Garden Tour one week a year. It is timed to coincide with the
Chipping Campden Open Gardens Tour
which are all private gardens only open to the public, and groups, this one weekend.

 

This is the garden area, and spa, behind the hotel. I sat here one evening after dinner. The sun didn’t set until well after 10 PM, so it was delightful.

One of the best things about this tour, for me, was the choice of hotels. We were free to stay anywhere we chose. Both towns, Chipping Campden and Cirencester, are small enough for this. And our tour was a maximum of 15 people (we had 11.) When I’m travelling alone I often opt for the higher end, luxury hotels. I want to know that I have services available should I need them. And this time I really hit it right!
The one very unexpected element of the trip turned out to be the heat. Our first four days were some of the hottest England has seen in many years and, in case you didn’t know this, air conditioning is a rare luxury in most of Europe! I was very fortunate to have chosen this hotel which had full air conditioning: others on the tour were not so fortunate and really suffered at night. The heat was brutal. Even with a hat and cover up, the sun was intense. Not to mention the fact that none of us had really brought many hot weather clothes! We made do, of course…

Day 2 of our Tour we were at two major gardens:
Hidcote and Kiftsgate followed by a private garden tour and tea

There are many, many sites to link to for most of the gardens we saw. The National Trust site is, I think, the best way to see the most comprehensive information for most of these gardens.  And their photographs are very good!
HIDCOTE

The main house of Hidcote. The gardens here are set into individual “rooms” in the Arts and Crafts style. There are intimate gardens of one color, and then there are allees opening onto grand vistas. As in all the gardens we would see, the variety of plants was amazing.

This is ‘Astrantia’. None of us from the U.S. were familiar with it and all of us were captivated by it. It IS available here, but prefers a moist well-drained soil. I doubt it would do well for me!

 

 

A short video of the sheep in the fields at Hidcote:
(sorry, not able to center this!)

 

It was a short walk to
KIFTSGATE

Kiftsgate Court is filled..and I mean this most literally…filled with an abundance of color, plants, textures and then those vistas. It is set atop an escarpment with one side of the property very subtly terraced as it leads down to a pool.

Maybe you have heard of the ‘Kiftsgate Rose’? So very gorgeous, growing in every garden we saw and quite a sight as it covers trees with the beautiful cream and yellow flowers!

Entrance gate

 

The sweet peas everywhere were spectacular. The roses…ah, the roses. I am not a rose person but this was enough to make me want to try one or two. But then again, my climate is SO different. The peonies were still going strong despite the heat of those few days.

As to our food:

 Breakfast was included with my hotel and I came to love the porridge!

Dinner was part of the tour almost every night and no, contrary to what you may believe, the food was not ordinary. Quite the opposite. We had a mini-foodie tour of dinners. The best evening of all was at
Dormy House

The ‘amuse-bouche’ served before our meal.

Take a look at their site. Yes indeed, I wouldn’t mind staying there next time. We ate in The Garden Room and it was utterly delightful and truly good food.

This was Farncombe belly of lamb, saffron cous cous, roasted red peppers, basil sauce. Out of this world. And nice to have a reasonable size portion and not the enormous size we have here!

Lemon Curd, toasted meringue, pine nut ice cream

That’s enough for today, right? I will continue the series and go on and show you  more gardens, flowers and even a peak at our group. Day 3, which was a Tuesday, is my favorite garden, so stay tuned….

Comments

  1. What a wonderful tour Libby. I just loved the Cotswolds, and would go back in a heartbeat! All of the history, old buildings and those wonderful English gardens – you just can’t beat it. Even though I’m not much of a gardener, I would love to learn how they cultivate those beauties. Great post.
    Cyndi Murdoch recently posted…Fresh Summer BruschettaMy Profile

    • Thanks, Cyndi. Yes, it was a special time and trip. Of course, coming home to my hot and humid climate was a bit of culture shock!!!

  2. So glad to hear the tour was all you hoped for! And you are right, you can’t grow Astrantia here as it likes moister soil and cooler temps than our summers typically provide…though this year could be the exception!
    Marian St.Clair recently posted…(Almost) Wordless Wednesday–On top of the world!My Profile

    • Hi Libby, your post is great! I’m going to show it to all my English speaking friends – including my husband – it’s a really interesting read and fantastic photos.
      I’m happy to have met you and spent time with you on the tour!
      Lol
      Jirina

    • Oh Marian: I have you to thank in part for this trip! It was all done so well, from what we saw, to the scheduling to the people. That heat wave was really something, though! And now back to more heat here…oh well. It’s summer, right? Would love to talk to you some time about other tours and gardens etc.

  3. Glad you enjoyed your trip to the UK and enjoyed your garden tours. The Cotswold is gorgeous at this time of year. Your photos are stunning I am saving up for an iPhone 7plus. It was lovely to meet up for tea.

    • Hi Josephine: It was lovely to meet you and put a real face to the blog! I am thinking of you enjoying the South of France…but yes, the Cotswolds were even lovelier than I had imagined. And the iPhone 7+ did not disappoint !

  4. Welcome home! What beautiful photos, Libby. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to more!
    Claudia recently posted…Simple Summer EntertainingMy Profile

  5. Libby, your tour sounds delightful. I see astrantia frequently featured in gardens blogs from England. Beautiful little flowers. While you were traveling I made it to the DC Garden Bloggers Fling and enjoyed a range of lovely gardens. Enjoy your summer.
    Susie recently posted…In A Vase On Monday – A Little LimeMy Profile

    • Oh Susie…yes, it was just wonderful. So much to think about. I did know you were going to the DC Fling, and can’t wait to see photos and your “story”. YOu had beautiful weather, right? It’s hard getting back to this humidity and just such a different climate! And also, congratulations on your Yoga teacher certification: that is quite an accomplishment!

  6. Just catching up with you and you have been on a English garden tour! How fantastic. Loving these posts. Going to take notes for my next time in the UK!

  7. SO, HAPPY YOU HAD A GRAND TIME!YOU were there right after me………….I missed the HOT SPELL!I saw SISSINGHURST as well as GREAT DIXTER which I will be POSTING in a day or two!!!
    I CANNOT WAIT TO GO BACK……………..THANKS FOR THE INFO!!!
    XX
    LA CONTESSA recently posted…SANDRA’s STYLE!My Profile

  8. Libby,
    I loved reading this and looking at your beautiful pictures as I sit outside on my patio with my flowers and cats. This has given me some ideas and I’m so glad that you take such inspiring photos!