Slow Cotswolds

Chapter 2 - North Cotswolds

Kiftsgate Court Garden (page 76) often gets overlooked by visitors to its neighbour, the famous Hidcote Manor Gardens. But don't miss Kiftsgate, for it overlooks the Vale of Evesham and has impressive views perched on the very edge of the Cotswold escarpment.

The garden runs down the steep hillside (its not recommended for those with limited mobility) and is filled with unusual species, including the rewnowned Kiftsgate Rose. Take some time to sit and reflect in the Lower Garden where you can 'stand and stare' through the soaring pine trees at the fabulous views.

Chapter 4 - High Cotswolds

At Bourton House Gardens (page 132), ten inter-linked areas of garden provide different views of the fine neo-classical house (interior not open to the public) and exhilarating changes of mood. Of the ten, my favourites are the long borders full of riotous colours, the raised walk facing the house and, by contrast, the White Garden, with monochrome shades intermingled with clipped box hedges and lichen-covered stone pillars.

Chapter 6 - Thames Valley

The beautiful home of one-time interior designer William Morris, Kelmscott Manor (page 227) has a picture-perfect Cotswold garden. It's not a huge garden by comparison to others mentioned here but in summer it's filled with scented roses and bursting with colour. You'll find roses draped around picture-frame windows, climbing trellises and rambling over 'secret' garden gates. Make time to enjoy the hay meadow at the rear, where you can wander at will.

Chapter 7 - The Southern Cotswold Scarp & Five Valleys

It's difficult to choose just one garden in this locale - Painswick Rococo Garden, Chavenage, Highgrove? They're all worth a visit. I've plumped for Misarden Park Gardens (p235), simply for being so out of the way and 'hidden'. The magnificent estate manor house (not open to the public) is surrounded by long borders, charming parterres, wildflower banks and a superb arboretum on the steep sides of the Frome Valley, perfect for a wander. There's a very good plant nursery on site, ideal for those who love gardening in addition to noseying around other people's gardens!

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