Living with Style, Travel Notes

Halcyon Days in the Cotswolds: Part 1

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I have been absolutely euphoric for the past week! A dream come true…visiting my “basket” (not bucket) list of gardens that I have longed to see, craving the opportunity to capture my very own images of these favorites.

From Highgrove to Hidcote and a stellar list in between — Stourhead, Bowood, Rousham, Buscot Park, Iford, Kiftgate, Rodmarton — conveniently within two hours of each other. Cloudy, wettish weather did not dampen the enthusiasm as, ironically, spring colors actually read better in overcast conditions.

Over the summer and fall, I will dedicate posts to individual gardens from this trip. For the moment, though, I want to highlight the images that capture for me the essence of each garden — the “picture that is worth a thousand words” (which I shall spare you!). Wisteria starred in many gardens, which was a most welcoming sight as it is used less frequently in my part of the world — and like so many flowers we love, their bloom is too fleeting.

Rodmarton shows off its double dose of the fetching purple vine while the featured image (above) provides a very different aspect of this Cotswold Arts and Craft property.

Glorious Buscot Park, with it’s wealth of landscape features, extravagant vistas and romantic stonework…to include the famous Italianate water garden designed by Harold Peto.

Rousham is singular for two reasons…it represents the first phase of English landscape design dating back to the early 1700s, remaining almost as William Kent had left it. And the house, built in 1635, is still owned by the same family. Rousham is truly charming in its unspoilt way…

Stourhead is renowned as one of the best examples of the English landscape style of garden in the mid-eighteenth century. Designed around an elegantly sized lake, the property incorporates ever changing vistas with idealized versions of classical antiquity.

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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".

17 thoughts on “Halcyon Days in the Cotswolds: Part 1

  1. Bettie – I am leaving on Saturday for London and will be visiting gardens with our daughter. Visited Stourhead, Kiftsgate, Hidcote, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter in ‘17. This time Ilford, Nymans, Rousham and Buscot Park as well as Highgrove. Wish we were there at the same time. Can’t wait to follow your tour and see your wonderful pictures. Merrielou

  2. Simply divine. I can only imagine how happy you are soaking it all in! Thank you for these stunning shots. xo

  3. So happy to see this post. We are returning to the Cotswolds for a week this September, and this will definitely guide us. Looking forward to your future posts. Thank you!

  4. Hi Bettie-

    Thanks for sharing these magnificent photos.

    If you were to identify one universal difference in gardening styles between the Brits and Americans what would that be?

    1. Identify one? Significantly, it would have to be the difference in percent of population of British gardeners over American gardeners.

  5. After reading this post, I’ve spent the last hour and half with your previous posts on London and Paris. Oh, the afternoon teas and the shopping! I adore London, but have never been outside of the city. I’ve always yearned to visit the Cotswolds. How I would love to visit all the fabulous gardens and the charming countryside of England. Thank you, Bettie, for such an inspiring post.

    1. You are sooo welcome, Lisa…and there are many to come over the next few months. Enjoy, and here’s to getting inspired!

  6. I’ve been to some of the places you are visiting. Give me the country side over London any day.
    One thing that struck me was how old things are. What a contract to America. Beautiful gardens, on and on. If time allows , go to Wesley, the royal horticulture gardens. Great gift shop, too.

    1. Yes, I went to Wisley years ago and adored it. So much to see and great learning opps.
      And regarding old…that’s why I love living in Newport, which was founded in 1639 (380 years old)!

  7. Bettie,

    These photos and gardens are indescribable! Thank you a million times for sharing them. I can’t wait for the individual gardens as you present them. Thank you, to for the list of gardens and letting us the time to visit to see wisteria!


    1. From one garden lover to another…it was my pleasure! Wondering why we don’t see wisteria more often around these parts…

  8. You are such an inspiration to so many of us Bette! The reason American gardeners don’t plant wisteria , especially in the south much anymore is because they don’t realize that by pruning it back properly , allows controlled growth but more bloom ! We see it “ wild” in tree tops ! Try American wisteria – a native and a winner in my book !!’

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