Design, In the Garden, Travel Notes


Rockcliffe: “A Cotswold Gem” Part 2

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Based on your response to Part I of my Rockcliffe post last week, as well as the thousands of follows on social media, I’m not the only one who finds this exceptional garden beguiling!

Like any good English property, a kitchen garden is an integral part of their overall plan. Sited in the only flat part (and a challenging frost pocket) of the otherwise undulating original farmland, the areas design scheme and plant selection have been impeccably considered. The garden is surrounded by a stone wall, and framed by hornbeam hedges and espaliered medlars (Mespilus germanica), with cottage garden borders accenting the pebbled paths.

I took a lesson from the detailed hedging on either side of the path leading down into the kitchen garden…squares of clipped boxwood interrupted with a complementary evergreen. So much more interesting than just all boxwood!

A charming wood border distinguishes the vegetable planting’s chicken wire structure.

Delicious peony ‘Rubra Plena’ is a favorite of the owner’s.

And, the most-divinely scented rose, ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison,’ has prompted a new addition to Parterre’s Cutting Garden for 2023.

But the pure magic of this triumphant garden resulted from the owner’s philosophy that her garden needed lots of structure, like topiaries, which hold your interest in the seven months of not great weather. It is personified in the project that the creative owner conceived to celebrate the Millennium…a Cotswold stone dovecote fronted by two rows of yew birds on plinths. Breathtaking, and no small visual feat, which required a ten year lead time!

Serving as a focal point at the top of the sloped orchard, the dovecote required endless researching and just as many drawings (i.e. the gilded weathervane was copied from the Eton College chapel)…

all carried out while the yew topiaries were being developed and matured.

Experiencing this whole concept is extended by the peaked stone wall with its gate through which you must pass before proceeding up the stone steps to the dovecote.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is a triumphant creation in a singular garden, now thirty years old, which will serve many as a source of inspiration for years to come.

On a personal note…I highly recommend a wonderful country house hotel, Buckland Manor, which is located in the same part of the Cotswolds as Rockcliffe, and so many of the other gardens I’ve enjoyed over the years.

Here’s to topiaries…

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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".

7 thoughts on “Rockcliffe: “A Cotswold Gem” Part 2

  1. Tip of the hat to your narration AND PHOTOS as well as topiaries and dovecoats…starts with vision…franki

  2. Topiary just makes my heart sing, and so do your posts. This sublime Cotswold setting and Rockcliffe all in the bargain… I may have to go lie down lest I injure myself from the swooning. Thank you as always Bettie!

  3. Besides the magnificent topiary birds alley, the white doves sitting peacefully,
    outside the dovecote, on top of the cupola are the perfect complement to
    this magical garden!

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