Gardens Illustrated
Naturalised crocus planted in a lawn under a mature tree framing a typical Cotswold house in the distance

A Cotswold rectory garden with topiary and early spring bulbs

Published: January 6, 2022 at 4:00 pm

Take winter and early spring design and planting inspiration from this pretty country garden, packed with early flowering bulbs and evergreen structure. Photographs Jason Ingram.

This beautiful garden in the Cotswolds uses many types and forms of topiary to provide year-round interest. Early spring flowers are planted in great abundance to maximise on colour and create a thrilling display at the start of the gardening year.

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In the depths of winter, structure plays a leading role in the form of topiary and hedging but as the season edges toward spring, early-flowering plants such as snowdrops and crocus introduce much needed colour.

IN BRIEF

What A Cotswold garden with strong structure and colourful planting. Where Gloucestershire. Soil Cotswold Brash – free-draining limestone. Size One and three quarter acres. Climate T150m above sea level, so colder than much of southwest England, but the frost does drain away. Hardiness zone USDA 8.

Topiary

Sunrise over a garden in the Cotswolds filtering light through the bare branches of winter trees.
Photo by Jason Ingram

Topiary plays a large part in providing structure around the garden, and ranges in style from classic columns to ornate cake stand-style designs.

Focal points

A copper planter is positioned in the middle of four tall, slender trees on top of stable setts
Photo: Jason Ingram

To enhance the focal point in the centre of this crossroads of gravel pathways, setts have been used. A copper planter draws the eye and adds texture and maturity.

Evergreens and winter flowers

Photo by Jason Ingram
Photo by Jason Ingram

A quirky topiarised hen sets the tone for these steps lined by hellebores mixed with ferns, such as Polystichum setiferum 'Pulcherrimum Bevis'. Ramped steps with stone-edged treads are more leisurely than steep flights. A fall of 2.5cm in 30cm is reasonable and the long gaps between give you time to enjoy the planting on either side.

Planted banks

Photo by Jason Ingram
Photo by Jason Ingram

This path is only wide enough for one person to walk along, but it is perfect for enjoying the bank of Galanthus 'S. Arnott'. The path is edged with large, rough stones, which stop the soil from the bank falling on to the path. 'S. Arnott' is a large-flowered snowdrop and when it flowers it produces an incredible scent that is only intensified when planted in a confined space. Light at the end, preferably with a view, is important to stop a walk like this from feeling too enclosed.

Naturalised crocus planted in a lawn under a mature tree framing a typical Cotswold house in the distance
Photo by Jason Ingram

Crocus tommasinianus spreads everywhere when happy, and looks charming planted in a wilder lawn areas such as this orchard. The appearance of purple drifts of flowering crocus, when much else is dormant, lifts the spirits.

Pots in borders

Photo by Jason Ingram
Photo by Jason Ingram
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This white Brooke Pottery urn has been used to stand in for a plant that failed in this pretty part of the garden. The white glaze beautifully offsets the delicate white blooms of the naturalised snowdrops planted around it.

Galanthus plicatus ‘Walter Fish’
© Jason Ingram
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