I am always trying to peek over the walls of lovely gardens in the Cotswolds, especially those belonging to the large estates. I have only recently realized that I can actually see these fabulous gardens of the Manor House Estates of the Cotswolds by tracking down their open days on the National Garden Scheme.
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Now I am over the moon – it’s raining gorgeous gardens. In the last couple of weeks I have toured Rockcliffe House Garden near Lower Swell, Eyford Garden near Upper Slaughter and Campden House Garden near Chipping Campden.
Rockcliffe House and Gardens
The gardens offered glorious treasures such as: a parade of pleached lime trees lining a lovely lily pond, a whimsical Dove topiary climbing a hill to meet the real thing at its summit – a dovecot filled with cooing birds, ancient statuary half hidden in shrubbery, climbing courgettes begun in an impeccably kept greenhouse, a tennis court-sized croquet lawn, a jasmine filled orangery, alliums as big as footballs, and stunningly perfect herbaceous borders among many other delights.
Eyford House and Gardens
This is a wonderful way for visitors to explore the Cotswolds and often meet the owners of these estates as my husband and I did at Eyford House. The very charming Charlotte Heber-Percy was selling tickets at the entrance to her estate and we struck up a conversation with her. As we chatted she decided to leave her ticket-selling duties to a helper and proceeded to walk us around her gorgeous garden taking us on a personally conducted tour. We couldn’t believe our luck as we strolled past the fox and hounds topiary listening in delight as she pointed out one spectacular garden feature after another. She also told us the history of her family and the manor house and garden. By the end of the tour it felt like we were old friends.
Many of these gardens on these private estates are open only one day a year so it is a good idea to do some advanced planning. We got hold of a National Garden Scheme book that tells of every open garden for the year. It is as thick as a novel but is invaluable to have in the car. But also the info on the gardens is all online too. A trek around a couple of gorgeous estate gardens followed by tea and a bun (sometimes in a room in one of these ancient manor houses) is my idea of a perfect Cotswold day.
National Garden Scheme Website
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