Design, In the Garden, Travel Notes


11 Ideas to Borrow from Cotswolds Gardens

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This is always one of my favorite posts to write…just after a wonderful garden trip and while my mind is still fresh with all the visions and inspiration. Not only is a change of scenery good for what ails you, but seeing things in a new way is worth the plane ticket. It’s good to challenge yourself to think outside the box, consider another perspective, and perhaps, up your game!

Again and again, the most important lesson I bring home is the special place that a garden plays in our well being…the seasons and cycle of change, and always lessons to be learned. Humbling, too, but I agree with Audrey Hepburn, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

Celebrate a milestone. Rockcliffe’s owner, Emma Keswick, gives new meaning to celebrating! For the Millennium in 2000, she created quite the feature off her kitchen garden (see above image)…two rows of stylized topiary birds, astride yew plinths, (and all very settled in now after 22 years) that draw your eye up to the Cotswold stone dovecote crowning the crest of the orchard hill. The real birds sit on top of the dovecote’s gilded weathervane (which Emma copied from Eton College chapel).

Create a singular feature that distinguishes your garden. Noted designer, Rosemary Verey (who also assisted Prince Charles with Highgrove’s garden), installed a long series of arches covered in yellow laburnum…that just happened to be blooming when we stopped by her former home, Barnsley House, for tea. Seeing this iconic image in person was one of the highlights of my trip.

Not all gates need to be black. Viewing this newly installed gate in a primed state prior to its final coat of black, the owner of Upton Wold decided to keep it white…and how well it works here! Usually seen from a long distance, the black painted gate would have disappeared.

Who said paths have to be straight? At Temple Guiting, designed by uber garden designer Jenny Blom, the angles and placement of the paths are curved just enough to provide a contemporary feel.

Have fun in your garden Again at Temple Guiting, whimsically pruned shapes bring “pop” to small garden rooms.

Consider silhouettes. At Bourton House Garden, a long bench with planted arch centers a terrace providing seating as well as an intriguing silhouette against an open sky.

Explore the many uses of pruned greenery. The peaks of these topiaries draw one’s eye immediately to the old church in the background. Bourton House Garden

Add airiness to garden rooms. While it’s not often that you see such elaborate metal work treated as garden room “walls,” these accomplish the purpose of dividing spaces while allowing light, air circulation (and butterflies) to flow freely. Bourton House Garden

Take advantage of water features. You have to have just the right site for primula; these gorgeous flowers adore damp settings, as here, along a narrow creek at Sezincote (a personal note: the cover of Rosemary Verey’s 1984 book, The American Woman’s Garden, was so memorable to me for the image of primula running along both banks of a large creek in Delaware).

Collect images of follies. England is an amazing source of ideas for garden buildings/gazebos/ tea houses, whatever you wish to call them. Almost every garden has one that is worth catching on your phone. As I love to say, “you’ll never know what project you may be doing next…and which might need a folly!” Sezincote

Play with paint color. Chic up an all green garden rest spot with painted chairs that play off the planted blooms. Admington Hall

See you next week for Part 2 of “Ideas to Borrow from Cotswold Gardens.”

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

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 “11 Ideas to Borrow from Cotswolds Gardens

  1. THIS IS A WINNER…can hardly wait for the next episode!!!! How this makes my heart sing…Honestly, this is what I “feel” represents the word “beauty.” Wonderful! franki

  2. Thanks for the flightless, no lines visual trip to the Cotswold area. I’ve been to a couple you photographed but new to others. There is simply not enough time to see them all.

  3. Just wonderful. I have looked at this week’s blog over and over. That gate in the first photo is magical, as are all the flowers and topiary shrubbery. Part two can’t come fast enough.

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