Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre

10 of the best Cotswold gardens

Posted on 20th March, 2015

Tis the season for planting and weeding. It’s officially spring, and gardens are waking up from their winter slumber with spring bulbs, tree blossom and flowering shrubs. Swathes of colour are taking over as snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and bluebells burst into bloom, dazzle the senses and lift the spirits.

If you’re looking to escape to one of our luxury Cotswold hotels and want to make the most of spring by taking in the riot of colour, with many flowers at their best at this time of year, then here’s some seasonal inspiration for you. Experience the Cotswolds in high definition this spring…

1. Batsford Arboretum & Garden Centre

Batsford, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9AB
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Kings Hotel (5.25 miles)

Silver winner of the Cotswold Tourism Awards Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2014, Batsford Arboretum is home to the country’s largest private collection of trees and shrubs. Stroll through 56 acres of wooded glades lit by drifts of yellow aconites, daffodils, hellebores and delicate snowdrops. Magnolias give attractive spring flowers, as does the beautiful Davidia (handkerchief tree), but Batsford’s national collection of Japanese flowering cherries takes pride of place with a mass of pink spring blossom.

  • Open daily (except Christmas Day) all year.

2. Blenheim Palace, Park & Gardens

Blenheim Palace, Park & Gardens

Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PP
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Cotswold Lodge Hotel (7.5 miles)

Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, is inseperable from the 2,000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped parkland and award-winning formal gardens that surround it and play a significant part in its World Heritage Site status. In the 1920s, the formal gardens were redesigned by the 9th Duke of Marlborough and Achille Duchêne to provide a setting that befits a palace; from the water terraces, with the arboretum winding past the Temple of Diana below – where Churchill proposed to Miss Clementine Hozier – to the rose garden, with delicate pink roses arched over slender hoops, and symmetrical beds swirled with red, white and pink. For families, the pleasure gardens can be reached by the miniature train from the Palace. Here you can marvel at the Marlborough maze, the world’s second largest symbolic hedge maze, and a model of a Woodstock street, or surround yourself with exotic butterflies in the butterfly house. One of the highlights of 2015 at Blenheim Palace will be the opening of a memorial garden feature in mid-June to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill.

  • Open daily from February to December.

3. Bourton House Garden

Bourton-on-the-Hill, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9AE
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Kings Hotel (6.5 miles)

Enter this award-winning, three-acre garden through a splendid Grade I listed, 16th Century Tithe Barn. Once inside, there are luxuriant terraces, deep herbaceous borders and imaginative topiary, including a knot garden, parterre and topiary walk. You will also find an 18th Century raised walk, a unique shade house and a number of water features fed by natural springs. An abundance of unusual, rare and exotic plants add to the heady texture and colour combinations.

  • Open every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (excluding Easter) from April to October.

4. Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Burford, Oxfordshire OX18 4JP
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Wyck Hill House Hotel & Spa (11 miles)

A wildlife park is not the first place you would expect to find a wide variety of stunning planting styles, but green fingers have been at work to take advantage of the various microclimates. Known for its exotic, flamboyant planting, the gardens are described as ‘theatre with plants,’ where the plant not animal kingdom takes centre stage. There is a large walled garden, a collection of mature trees and a tropical house – a feat of glasshouse gardening.

  • Open daily (except Christmas Day) all year.

5. Hidcote Manor Garden

Hidcote Manor Garden

Hidcote Bartrim, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire GL55 6LR
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Kings Hotel (4.25 miles)

This famous Arts and Crafts garden was created by the American horticulturist Major Lawrence Johnston and features yew, holly and beech hedge garden rooms bursting with colour. One room has a circular raised pool, another takes its character from the inspired planting. Paved pathways lead to secret gardens, or open up to magnificent vistas, and there are plenty of quiet spots where you can sit with a good book or wile away the hours watching the green woodpeckers.

  • Open daily from March to November.

6. Kiftsgate Court Gardens

Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire GL55 6LN
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Kings Hotel (4.25 miles)

The first thing that hits you as you approach the house is the yellow carpet of daffodils peeping up under the lime trees and, at the other side of the drive, the bluebell wood, a glorious sight in early May. In the sunk garden, spring flowering plants such as erythronium and trillium give the garden its characteristically white flowers. Made by Heather Muir, with help from Major Johnston, many features of Kiftsgate are typical of the Arts and Crafts period. The new abstract modern water garden features a bronze leaf sculpture by Simon Allison.

  • Open daily from April to September.

7. Mill Dene Garden

Blockley, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9HU
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Kings Hotel (3.5 miles)

Designed by Wendy Dare, features of this romantic 2.5 acre garden, centred around a beautiful Cotswold stone watermill and sat on the side of a tiny valley, include a misty grotto, a bog garden, a stream, a fruit garden, a herb potager, a trompe l’oeil and dye plants. The mill pond is home to trout, kingfisher and ducks. In spring, daffodils and yellow tulips add a splash of colour and hyacinths and osmanthus scent the air. Later in the season, more than 500 tulips come out, including the dark maroon ‘queen of the night’ tulip.

  • Open Wednesday to Saturday from March to October.

8. Painswick Rococo Garden

Painswick Rococo Garden

Painswick, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 6TH
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Hatherley Manor Hotel (9.75 miles)

A sensual backdrop to a decadent garden party best describes this early 18th Century pleasure ground, situated in a hidden valley and enjoying rolling countryside views. This theatrical style of garden, with its dramatic follies and vistas, quickly went out of fashion in the 19th Century and the garden at Painswick is the only survivor of the period. Featuring rococo buildings, characterised by an extravagantly ornamental late baroque style of decoration, one of the most spectacular features of the garden is in early spring when snowdrops carpet the woodland floor.

  • Open daily from January to October.

9. Sudeley Castle & Gardens

Sudeley Castle & Gardens

Winchcombe, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL54 5JD
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Hatherley Manor Hotel (13.5 miles)

The only private castle in England to have a queen, Katherine Parr, buried within its grounds, Sudeley Castle’s royal connections stretch back over 1,000 years. Outside the castle are award-winning, carefully restored Victorian gardens and a magnificent 1,200 acre estate. Classic themed gardens include the queens garden, noted for its stunning display of old-fashioned roses; the Tudor physic garden, part of the herb walk that draws upon the tradition of herbal healing; and the knot garden, with 1,200 box hedges forming an intricate geometric design. In spring, the tulips of the white garden, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, are at their best.

  • Open daily from March to November.

10. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8QS
Our Cotswold hotels nearby: Hatherley Manor Hotel (26.5 miles)

Westonbirt, a 600 acre arboretum, is home to an internationally important tree and shrub collection of 15,000 trees, with around 2,500 different types of tree from all over the temperate areas of the globe. In spring, visitors can enjoy spectacular displays of rhododendrons from the Himalayas, champion magnolias from China – did you know Westonbirt has the tallest magnolia sprenderi “Diva” tree in Britain? – and beautiful conifer foliage from Eastern Europe. With exhilerating blue skies, sunlight glancing through tree-lined avenues and lush grassland, there is no better place to picnic. But it isn’t just rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias that you can look forward to, in the old arboretum you will find a wide variety of spring flowers.

  • Open daily (except Christmas Day) all year.

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