We have returned from our holiday in the Cotswolds, which is pretty much a paradise for garden visits. I asked Twitter where they recommended and Kiftsgate Court Gardens was suggested. I looked it up and found we got two for one with our Gardeners World card so even better. The garden is the result of three successive female gardeners starting with Heather Muir in the 1920’s. She was aided by Lawrence Johnson of Hidcote Manor. We didn’t make it to Hidcote. Hidcote is arguably one of the most famous of the arts and crafts movement gardens. It is currently under National Trust stewardship and I don’t totally trust the National Trust for several of their environmental stances and the excessive price they charge for visiting their properties. As it was, it has been so hot the last week we have chosen gardens with shade. We may manage Hidcote in future. After Heather, Diany Binny took over and developed the white sunk garden and began to open the garden to the public. Anne Chambers took over and carried on the evolution of the garden with the tennis court becoming a water garden. The staff were very welcoming on entry explaining the layout and they were friendly to Alice. Not every garden we visit is happy to see children.
The banks and pool
We began our visit heading down the winding bank paths. These looked to have been replanted recently with a few areas of hardy geraniums and ferns that haven’t been established yet. It will look nice as it spreads if it can survive the current heatwave. As we got down the planting was more established. The paths wind down to the summer house which has a lovely view across the pool and Cotswolds. Then coming down from the summer house the steps lead to a little pond.
The pool at the bottom has a sunken ha-ha giving you another view out to the rolling hills.
In the heat, all seating was appreciated. If it was cooler we might have stayed down here longer to admire the view but we needed shade.
The lilies were the standout flower all over the garden. While many plants have suffered with the heat these were loving it.
Amy was very determined to get a photo of Alice by the pool with her reflection but Alice quickly lost interest and got fed up of squinting.
The walk back up was hot work with multiple stops on the way. The route took us under the towering Scots pines. Their shade was much appreciated. By the end of this holiday, I have become convinced that these should be planted everywhere as they have saved us from heat exhaustion, again and again, the last week.
I rather liked this statue that you find located part of the way back up. Statues are often placed badly in gardens or they are out of proportion with their surroundings but this fitted beautifully. There was also a stone bench to sit on which was needed for us to stop and drink more water.
The yellow border was more of an orange border currently with crocosmia and lilies dominating the colour.
Though no less beautiful for being orange rather than yellow.
At the end of this border, there were a number of topiary animals creating a mini farm.
And a stone which in my mind has a face.
The water garden
As already mentioned the water garden was previously a tennis court. It has kept the strong straight lines of the court. The dragonflies were skimming the surface enjoying hunting the other insects on the water.
The water pleasantly trickles over the leaves. On a cooler day this would be a nice serene place to stop and wander. But in the heat of our visit we mainly stayed in the shelter.
Luckily to the side there was a much appreciated shelter.
The rose garden
The rose garden was a bit lacking in roses in flower. I assume they are either over or the next flush hasn’t come through yet. Most of the photos I took here were badly over exposed so I don’t have any of the few roses that were looking good.
One end of the rose garden leads back towards the house while the other takes you through to the wild garden and orchard. I really liked how the smaller leaves of the formal yew hedge had been combined with the larger leaves to make the arch.
And a statue seat drawing the eye up the path.
Wild garden and orchard
The wild garden was not full of much activity. Much of the plants had finished flowering and gone to seed ready for next year. There will have been lots of life hidden away amongst the stems but not much moving in the heat.
The orchard had some fine-looking fruit forming. The grass has gone very parched but will still be providing habitats for lots of insects and other life. Many of their old apple trees had died and have been replaced but all looks to be settling in well. Underneath is planted with Camassias and the tulip Jan Reus which are well over now but would make a spring visit worthwhile with the fruit trees blossom.
The avenue is made up of a formal seating arrangement with gravel arranged to make the diamond shape.
Then the avenue stretches out, lined by tulip trees, to a sculpture at the end by Pete Moorhouse. Looking at it as a photo the sculpture doesn’t look quite proportioned right to the length of the avenue and the size of the trees.
I can’t say I was that bothered for walking down to see it in the heat but Alice insisted. I’m not interested in formal layouts like this. They leave me feeling a bit cold, combined with the heat I can’t say I liked this area. The water garden was formal but that was all done with a bit more panache. This still feels like a work in progress. It extends the garden but I didn’t feel it fitted with the more intimate feel of the other garden rooms.
Alice on the other hand enjoyed running up and down the banks.
White sunk garden and four squares
By this point, legs were getting tired so we started heading back to the house. We stopped to have a look in the white sunk garden on the way.
There was a lot flowering around this area doing well in the heat. Roses and agapanthus were thriving.
Then the wide border and four squares were filled with lots of colourful beauties.
Then a well-earned ice cream for Alice. We’d given her legs a good workout and nice cake for us in the cafe.
We appreciated the shade and breeze that filtered through the plants around the window after our hot exploration of the garden.
Even in the heat, this was a lovely garden to visit. There were a lot of plants suffering in the heat but the dahlias and lilies were looking fabulous. I particularly like the yellow and wide borders. Lots of perennials looking good. The fern garden I didn’t photograph much but that had a lovely mix of ferns. The banks were a nice stroll down and back up through the pines. Hard work in the heat but well worth it. Sadly I couldn’t make plant purchases as we wouldn’t be able to fit them for the journey home but the selection on offer looked very good. I’d like to return again at another time of year to see it in a different season or at least a few degrees cooler. I would recommend it for a visit though you may struggle if you have mobility issues as the bank is steep and many of the garden rooms are on different levels. It made a good start to our stay in Moreton In Marsh.