Thumbing through ‘Secret Gardens of The Cotswolds’ written by Victoria Summerley I decided a few weeks back to make visits to gardens in this region a bit of a priority. Afterall, I don’t need to battle the M25 to reach the area & the route is mainly pretty.
By the time I read about Eastleach House I’d missed the NGS April opening but wrote to the owner anyway to ask if I could visit. And her answer was ‘yes’. I was to leave my tenner in the hiding place & help myself to the delights of one of the most beautiful private gardens I’ve ever visited & I don’t say this lightly as I’ve seen a LOT of gardens.
Eastleach is a 1900’s Cotswold manor house in the Jacobean Revival style but the gardens are the work of Stephanie Richards. The gardens amount to 14 acres worth & comprise a rill garden, a walled garden, a park & the south lawn. I have a weakness for rills; if I see a garden has a rill then I make a beeline for it.
The rill garden is quite steep but the borders have been thoughtfully terraced & appeared pretty much symetrical as I looked downwards. Of note was the fabulous ironwork fencing designed & installed to keep the rabbits & deer out. It looked successful, I couldn’t see how a creature could squeeze through the bars.
The planting was really quite exquisite; some bold Irish yews stood like punctuation marks reminding me of the garden’s symetry. The garden is designed to peak during July to September but that wasn’t obvious as alliums, camassias, tulips, centaurea & forget-me-not flourished. Mature spring flowering shrubs provided some good structure to the design.
With birdsong for my company I wandered from the rill garden into an arboretum where I disturbed a cheeky muntjack munching away at the camassia flowers.
Further on into the park gazillions of wild flowers adorned the hillside; buttercups, daisies, anthrisus, wild garlic, ferns, bluebells, primula & meconopsis. I spoke with one of the gardeners who said the giant hogweed had taken over in the parkland area & they were currently trying to control it.
The parkland was the place I would’ve stopped for a picnic & a snooze had the weather been warmer. Lots of spots with rustic benches perfect to spend a while.
Walking back towards the house, it took me a while-I was in no hurry, I encountered a large sculpture of a stag surrounded by beautifully clipped yew hedges. I liked the yew hedges but not the stag. It all looked rather funereal & sad there standing alone.
I made my way through another imposing gate & into the area called the south lawn where the house looked splendid with just blossoming wisteria.
All sorts of shrubs were in flower including ceanothus, lilac, spirea, choisya… but the one that took my eye was a Clematis; a dark pink Montana variety which did look rather splendid against a yellow Rosa rugosa. The planting was all so mature & staged with larger specimens at the back & smaller specimens at the front. Given that this was all taking place on a bank the planting really did seem huge.
The final part of my visit was the walled garden. Oh my, what a joy. Bearing in mind it’s only late April the garden was full to the brim with only the vines & veg patch bare. The owner clearly used tulips to great effect although I may have missed the best part of the show. Also of note was a yellow peony set against a forget-me-not-blue bench.
Everywhere I looked my eyes fell upon clipped yew, conifer & box. I reckon even in winter this garden would look splendid especially with a few inches of snow for good photographs.
I shall visit again, maybe late summer when all the dahlias are in full bloom-it will look quite different then. And I’ll definitely take a picnic.
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