Let’s continue with Day #2 of our Garden Tour. It only gets better!
Our first stop was
Rockcliffe is superb. It has been the home of Emma and Simon Keswick for 30 years and in those years they have transformed the grounds. What you see below, a gorgeous terrace, had been a front driveway.
Below are just a few of the many scenes from our tour:
Here, the man of the hour, Head Gardener at Rockcliffe, Thomas Unterdorfer who patiently
answered all our questions, explained the Keswick’s ideas for the evolution of this estate, and made us welcome in these gorgeous gardens with the variety of plantings, the borders, the lily pond, the pool house, the vegetable garden, the dovecote. I found it a very personal kind of garden. It spoke to so many aspects of gardening: the color combinations, or in some cases the reliance of one color in an entire garden area, the flow between areas and even the negative space. It was, obviously, very well cared for but also there was a kind of abandon that was so appealing. It was, if not my favorite, among my top three of the week.
The sheer scale of these estate gardens is what one notices from the start. And the extreme care given to so many details. These were the kind of things I was hoping to see and was not disappointed. Everyone on our Tour was a gardener and quite knowledgeable about climates, plants, culture, soil etc. But we all came from different parts of the world (well, mostly from various parts of the United States) with varying growing conditions. I loved being able to talk “garden geek” for an entire week and now know that I will never, ever tire of that kind of language. We find friends through common interests and this was no exception: all of us were, I believe, in our element in being able to talk garden talk each and every day…
Did I learn a lot? Yes, of course. But I also realized that these gardens, and these estates, are part of a VERY small number of such places in the world. The wealth, the history, the centuries long focus on gardens…all are unique to only a very few people and places in the world.
Flowers, Lily Pond and Dovecote:
One final shot of that beautiful front terrace at Rockcliffe:
We left Rockcliffe (reluctantly..) and arrived at
where we were served THE most elegant and delicious lunch which included a huge Pavlova with lots of clotted cream and fresh berries and one enormous meringue. The lunch was so very lovely but I didn’t think it was polite to take pictures, so, sorry, nothing to show!
Upton Wold estate is large: 4,000 acres! I’m not sure, but it must be one of the largest land holdings in the Cotswolds. Of course, we only walked a few acres with Mrs. Bond, the owner, but the vistas were remarkable. The Bonds bought the estate in 1970; it is just amazing what they have done in those years. But then, so many of these gardens have been re-formed and reinvented in what, for British standards, is a very short time. The climate…oh the climate…is what makes these gardens, the flowers, the trees, the fields all so glorious. Upton Wold is also home to the national collection of Walnut trees: Mr. Bond has been growing as many different varieties as he can possibly find, since 1970.
Here is a short video of the perennial garden at Upton Wold:
We’re only finishing Day #2 but I think I will pause here. I’ll be back with more but will give it a short break.
There is so much to say and show. One last photo:
This is Broadway Tower
Built in 1798 it has had a long and illustrious history and is the second highest point in the Cotswolds where one can see to Wales as well as sixteen counties. We went before dinner one evening, had drinks on the grounds (thank you, Andrew) and went on to dinner. Just another unique event on our tour.
Thanks for following along!