I've recently returned from a holiday in the South West of England. It was envisaged as a grand road trip including places that have either long been on my bucket list or were places I haven't visited for many years. When I planned it some months ago, I didn't factor in a heatwave! As I don't really cope well with heat, I had to amend my plans: fewer long walks and many more café and ice cream stops! I had a great time though, and will share some of my photos so that you also can enjoy some of the most picturesque and interesting places that part of England has to offer.
My first stop was Hidcote, in Gloucestershire, a National Trust garden that was originally created by an American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston. He and his mother bought the 17th century farmhouse in 1907. They adapted and extended the house and began to create intimate 'garden rooms' around it, in the Arts and Crafts style that was current at the time. Its 'glory days' were in the 1930s and 40s, when it attracted many well-connected people with an interest in gardening. It was taken over by the National Trust in 1948. They strive to preserve it as it was intended and some 175,000 visitors are able to enjoy it every year.
It was blazing hot and for much of the afternoon I had to seek shelter in the shade of trees, enjoying a beautiful view across the surrounding Vale of Evesham. The gardens were, I would say, a bit past their best, given the hot, dry weather. The borders are packed with plants, influenced by the style of Gertrude Jekyll and the Arts and Crafts movement. Each 'room' is separated by a wall, hedge or topiary boundary, with connecting paths and vistas through. There's a kitchen garden, greenhouses, ponds and some wide lawns.
I felt I should be strolling around in a long, diaphanous skirt, trailing my fingers through the lavender and breathing in the scents or lazily lying in a deckchair listening to the buzzing insects. As it was, my ramblings were somewhat curtailed by the need for shade. Happily, most NT properties have good tea rooms!
The NT website has a wealth of information and you can enjoy wonderful 'virtual tours' through the gardens. I especially recommend the 'Old Garden' tour with the sound effects switched on. You can hear a wood pigeon's characteristic call; folks in Yorkshire reckon it keeps saying "My toe hurts, Betty." Once you've heard that, you can't unhear it, be warned! Click HERE.