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

Winter structure and early spring planting ideas from a Cotswold garden

Take garden design and planting inspiration from this stunning garden in the Cotswolds. There are plenty of ideas for winter structure and early flowering spring planting.

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.

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What A Cotswold garden with strong structure and colourful planting
Where Gloucestershire
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

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.

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

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.

Photo by Jason Ingram
Photo by Jason Ingram

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.

Photo by Jason Ingram
Photo by Jason Ingram

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.

Photo by Jason Ingram
Photo by Jason Ingram

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.

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