If you’re staying with us at Lorien Cottage, why not pay a visit to Kiftsgate Court Gardens? The thirty-minute drive from Swalcliffe is enjoyable itself, and whether you’re a green-fingered gardener or like me, not so much, this trip makes a lovely day out. The gardens are set on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment, and the views are stunning; from the swimming pool lawn, the Malvern Hills can be seen beyond the Vale of Evesham. The gardens are the creation of three generations of female gardeners, having been started by Heather Muir in the 1920s, continued by Diany Binny from 1950 and now looked after by Anne Chambers and her husband. In fact, we learnt that the Chambers family live in the house; how lovely to think that Kiftsgate remains a family home as it was always intended. Despite the hot, dry summer we’ve had so far, the flowers looked absolutely stunning, thanks to the hard work of the Chambers. You may come away with some inspiration for your garden or a newfound passion for horticulture.
Visitors to the gardens will find plenty to explore, with a beautiful wild garden and an orchard with apples, quince and pear trees, where we were told tulips complement the apple blossom in spring. Then there’s the new water garden, created from an old tennis court which was left derelict during World War II with seedling roses allowed to grow there. The court was later resurrected, much to the disappointment of those who loved the display of roses. Now a striking water feature, the modern, minimalist design contrasts with the abundance of colour everywhere else. The Drive is lined with lime trees, the oldest of which date back to the early 18th century. More recent replacement of weeping limes produce a sweet scent in late summer that permeates the whole garden and which the bees find irresistible. The rough grass underneath these trees is yellow with daffodils in spring. The other side of the drive is the south facing Bluebell Wood, which we were told is an amazing sight in May; we will definitely visit again in spring. By the time you’ve finished exploring and climbed back up to the house, you will have earned a cup of tea in the tea room, run by Lutti Bates. Lutti provides a homely, yet professional, food offering with the emphasis on sourcing as much produce as possible both locally and seasonally. Enjoy a traditional cream tea, or if you’re anything like me, deliberate over the array of cakes for a long time before opting to try two.
The Oxford Sculptors Group will be exhibiting their member’s work throughout the gardens at Kiftsgate between the 4th and 22nd of August.