Design, In the Garden

Halcyon Days in the Cotswolds: Part 2

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To say that I am a fool for follies is an understatement. In fact, Hidcote was on my itinerary as much for the gardens as for their most charming example of these small garden houses…which deservedly are the feature image for this post. How inspired is the double border of red tulips, “kicking up” the chic quotient of the overall scene! Another perspective on them is noteworthy, too, as the paint choice for the doors is such a complement to the wonderful old bricks. There is also another “pair” that I must include …the topiary birds atop their own “plinth” (a post dedicated specifically to the Hidcote garden will appear in the summer).

Coincidentally, just across the street from Hidcote is Kiftsgate Court Gardens, the creation of three generations of women gardeners from the same family; one of whom benefited from a lifelong friendship with the creator of Hidcote, Major Lawrence Johnston. The visitor, though, enjoys a very different experience than to be found at Hidcote (more of a “stroll” than moving in and out of garden rooms). It is clear that this garden is the product of a very discerning eye, where specific plants are enjoyed for their inspiration; I particularly noted the small magnolia ‘Gail’s Favorite’ and the evergreen holly, with its proportions and subtle shaping of the column).

The millennium water garden (2000), replacing a former tennis court, shows an impressive focus on the part of the current owners to updating and challenging the norm. The striking long pool, with gilded bronze Philodendron leaves at the end providing height and movement, are by sculptor Simon Allison. This New Garden provides reflective moments for all who enter the tall hedges…a welcoming sense of tranquility and feeling of contentment.

Bowood House, home to the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne, presented a very different set of opportunities for me than the other gardens — it is set within 100 acres of beautifully landscaped ‘Capability’ Brown parkland, a seductive backdrop to one of the finest stately homes and gardens in England. As a side note, the 2nd Earl of Shelburne was created the 1st Marquess of Lansdowne for negotiating peace with America after the American Revolution. A charming collection of English cottages and the like are scattered around the park, to include a grand gate house.

The entrance to architect-turned-garden designer Harold Peto’s home (from 1899-1933) gives one the sense of the magic to be found on this steeply terraced topography overlooking the River Frome. His Italianate creation includes paths that twist and turn around ancient statues, columns, and architectural fragments. This revered designer felt strongly that a garden must be a combination of plants and architecture in “just proportion.” Here is a mere sampling of images, as a future post will provide many more insights into this rare talent whose garden I feel so fortunate to have enjoyed in person.

What better choice to retreat to after a long day of garden visits and so in keeping with the English spirit of history and good design…The Royal Crescent hotel in Bath. Loved my room (window above the front door) with its view across the vast tapis vert.

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

4 thoughts on “Halcyon Days in the Cotswolds: Part 2

  1. Oh, OH, OH!!! I so want to see all those glorious gardens in PERSON!!! Your pictures are amazing and I never tire of your selections to share. Bettie, you bring such joy!!!

    1. THank you, Maryann, I’m counting the days until I’m there taking more pictures…stay tuned!xB

  2. What an inspirational, insightful article!!
    Loved that you had the room above the front door at Royal Crescent!! 💐

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