At the beginning of the year, 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. 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.
What A Cotswold garden with strong structure and colourful planting
Size One and three quarter acres
Soil Cotswold Brash – free-draining limestone
Climate 150m above sea level, so colder than much of southwest England, but the frost does drain away
Hardiness rating USDA 8
Topiary plays a large part in providing structure around the garden, and ranges in style from classic columns to ornate cake stand-style designs.
More on winter structure
Gravel is an easy and cheaper material to use for garden paths. But, to enhance the focal point in the centre of this crossroads of gravel pathways, setts from the old stables have been used and a copper planter draws the eye and adds texture and maturity.
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.
A quirky topiarised hen sets the tone for these steps lined by hellebores mixed with evergreens, 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 look at the planting on either side.
This path is only wide enough for one person to walk between the bank of Glanthus ‘S Arnott’ snowdrops and the hedge. 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.
Crocus tommasinianus when happy spreads everywhere and looks charming planted in a wilder lawn areas such as this orchard. A prolific self-seeder, the appearance of purple drifts of flowering crocus, when much else is dormant, lifts the spirits.