Recreating a Cotswold landscape

garden lawn and small wooden fence

The Cotswolds, an area of outstanding natural beauty, is characterized by its rolling hills, limestone escarpments, and picturesque villages. This cherished landscape captivates visitors with its dramatic escarpments and expansive high wolds, beech woods adorning the escarpment, and secluded valleys and meadows. It is a place where nature and history intertwine, creating a harmonious tapestry that has inspired generations of gardeners.

The Influence of the Cotswold Landscape

The distinct topography and geology of the Cotswolds have also played a significant role in shaping the region’s garden aesthetic and has played a significant part in the final layout of our garden. The predominantly Jurassic Limestone belt, stretching from the Dorset coast to Lincolnshire, has defined the Cotswold landscape. This limestone has been quarried and used locally in buildings and walls, imparting a distinctive character to the area. It is abundant and without doubt, the defining material of the region.

Cotswold Gardens: A Tapestry of Landscapes

While the Cotswolds exude a sense of harmony, each garden within the region possesses its own distinct character and charm. From the grandeur of the Cotswold landscape to the intimacy of village gardens, a myriad of options serves to remind me of the importance of letting go of ‘fashionable’ trends.

hidcote garden in winter

My aim was to create a garden that appears entrenched in the natural landscape – as if it had been there for a long time. I wanted to borrow from the classic English cottage garden style, combining this with larger more architecturally structural elements.

Embracing the Cotswold Garden Aesthetic

The allure of Cotswold garden design lies in its ability to seamlessly blend nature and history, creating spaces that evoke a sense of harmony and tranquility. In its more formal arrangement, Hidcote is a perfect example of the brilliance of combining architectural massing with informal planting.

The Cotswolds has a long history of landscape intervention, from the simple stone walls that divide fields up to the more formal gardens of the large country houses. The landscape has been churned over for centuries and provides a rich history to draw from.

It is this historic narrative that has informed my thinking of our tiny Cotswold garden. Nestled in between characteristic costwold stone walling and the front elevation of the cottage, the garden slopes gently toward a narrowing point which becomes a natural focus in the planting design. Just outside the garden and offering a focal back point is an existing mountain ash.

garden with copper beech hedge and stone path

Drawing inspiration from the past

The garden layout and planting takes inspiration from an original photograph of the cottage. A dusty road, lined with wild grasses and Cotswold stone walls is punctuated by several small trees.  The gentle curve of the road inspires the central pathway leading from the new terrace down into the garden.

An image taken at the turn of the 20th century showing a Cotswold village and a dirt track bending up over the hill between the houses.

This image acts as a window into the past, offering a visual of the landscape that was once there and the scale of planting that nestles in between the houses. Taking this to its logical conclusion meant planting in the garden would be low level, intimate and reflective of the typical wild foliage and plants found in the Cotswolds.

One place that really inspired me was the garden alongside Cotswold Garden Flowers’ nursery in Badsey. The free-flowing planting and impression of a natural landscape is what I would ultimately like to see develop in our own garden.

Cotswold Garden Flowers, Badsey
garden with copper beech hedge and stone pathgarden lawn and small wooden fence