Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Cotswolds: Sunshine and Snowdrops in Painswick

Travelling south from Cheltenham, the bus left the suburbs behind and started climbing. The road twisted and turned through forested slopes. It was a completely different landscape from the gentle rolling hills near Winchcombe.

After half an hour, we arrived in Painswick, a small village with narrow hilly streets that were almost deserted. There were various craft shops, but all of them were closed in January.

The bus stop was right across the street from the church, which is famous for its churchyard with 99 manicured yew trees. Legend has it that the 100th won’t grow.

I was here to visit the Rococo Garden, just a short half-mile walk from the village centre.

Rococo Garden is not a flower garden. Originally designed in the 1730s, it was intended to be a backdrop for decadent garden parties with expansive vistas over the garden and the surrounding countryside and a variety of fanciful buildings scattered around the grounds.

By the 1970s, it had become an overgrown jungle but has been recreated based on a painting done in 1748.

The snowdrops had just started to bloom in profusion across the southern-facing slopes. (They’ve added a bluebell walk, which I’d love to visit if I’m ever in the Cotswolds later in the spring.)

There is a maze at the top of the garden, a pool and a garden with espaliered fruit trees. A stream meanders through the woods at the bottom of the garden and you can climb a hill to visit the pigeon house.

I highly recommend having lunch at the Coach House Restaurant and a browse in the gift shop.

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