Stepping into Cerney House Gardens is like stepping into the pages of The Secret Garden. The large Victorian walled garden is a magical place that has carefully been brought back to life by the Angus family. Working with nature, it’s a glorious mix of tumbling plants, heady scents and colourful flowers, which are alive with bees and butterflies. There’s also an organic vegetable garden, orchard – complete with resident Kunekune pig, George – and woodland to explore. Don’t miss the woodland walk during snowdrop or bluebell season, when the ground is carpeted with these pretty wild flowers.
This popular National Trust garden has long been a favourite with Cotswolds day-trippers. Designed by Lawrence Johnston, the gardens act as ‘outdoor rooms’, each with their own distinct character and style. Johnston had a passion for exotic plants, which are showcased throughout the gardens. Take your time to wander around each of the exquisitely designed small gardens, then along the maze of pathways lined with colourful flowers and plants, before enjoying a picnic under the shade of the trees.
The gardens at Highgrove, HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall’s private residence, have been transformed over 35 years by the Prince himself. With a strong focus on sustainability and organic methods, the series of gardens are visually stunning as well as providing a haven for wildlife to thrive. From the classic Cottage Garden to the Wildflower Meadow, you can enjoy the ever-changing beauty of the gardens between April and October, on a group or private tour. Noted as some of the most innovative and inspiring gardens in the UK, they are well worth a visit.
Just a few minutes drive from Highgrove you’ll find Westonbirt Arboretum – one of the most admired arboretums in the world. Beautifully landscaped, take a walk down one of the stately avenues, lined with a stunning collection of trees, rhododendrons and magnolias – many of which have been in place since the mid-19th century. For a more informal experience, wander around Silk Wood, which bursts with colour in late April as the bluebells bloom. The arboretum has something to offer whatever the season, but it’s from mid-October to mid-November, when the autumn colours really dazzle.
Field after field of beautiful British lavender fills the landscape in Snowshill, during July and August. One of the most Instagram-able sights in The Cotswolds, the working lavender farm allows visitors to enjoy the beauty of the abundant purple flowering plants during the summer. But be warned, as the lavender is grown as a crop, it will need to be harvested – so keep an eye on the website for the best time to visit, before it’s all gone!
Set in the grounds of a grand 18th century manor house, Bourton House Gardens are a real hidden gem. The award-winning garden, spread over three acres, features many rare and unusual plants in the colourful herbaceous borders, but the stars of the show here must be the imaginative collection of topiary – including a knot garden, parterre and topiary walk. There are some pretty water features worth a visit too, especially a raised basket pond from the Great Exhibition of 1851. Although Bourton House Gardens are beautiful at any time of year, it’s in late summer when it really impresses.