Three generations of women gardeners at Kiftsgate
Kiftsgate Court is one of THE gardens in the Cotsworlds to visit! It's absolutely stunning, has unrivalled views over the Vale of Evesham, and is a tribute to the three generations of women gardeners who have made it what it is today. And even though it's right next door to Hidcote, you won't find the jostling crowds here ... so it's a little slice of heaven!
The house was built at the end of the 19th century and provides a magnificent backdrop for the gardens that have been created there in the last 90 years. It has a Georgian front with a high portico, which can be seen from various parts of the garden (top), and is still used as a family home, but unlike so many other properties where the house dominates the landscape, it's the gardens here at Kiftsgate that will make you gasp. And at this time of year, every single bit of the garden is in bloom - from the moment you walk in and are greeted by the magnificent peonies and roses (above), to the glorious white garden (below); the rose border; and the lower garden overlooking the Vale of Evesham towards the Malvern Hills.
The garden was originally planted by Heather Muir from 1920 onwards, who had help from her closest neighbour, Lawrence Johnston of Hidcote, but Kiftsgate has stayed in private hands and has been cosseted by two further generations of women gardeners, so it retains a sense of intimacy and charm and feels like a family home. You'll find the famous 'Kiftsgate' rose (Rosa filipes 'Kiftsgate') in full bloom right now - an amazing sight in June - although current owner Anne Chambers likens it to a "triffid" if kept unchecked!
Leaving the heavenly scented formal gardens behind, you'll find yourself in the sheltered Lower Garden with its half moon swimming pool overlooking the Malvern Hills (above) - and as you wander through the huge Monterey pines, you'll find many exotic plants including echium and agave, sheltered from winter frost on the banks leading down to the pool. You'd be forgiven for thinking you've walked into an entirely different climate here, because it's so different.
And don't miss the amazing Water Garden (above) - a modern masterpiece commissioned by the present owners, where 24 swaying bronze leaves designed by sculptor Simon Allison reflect in the black water of the rectangular pond, complete with stepping stones inspired by the moat at Sutton Place. This is a place to sit and reflect on what you've already seen at this amazing garden.
Kiftsgate is open on the same days as Hidcote (Saturday to Wednesday in June, July and August), but if you really want to get the most out of this garden, get there when it opens at midday, before the marauding masses arrive from over the road! I will be updating this review in the next few weeks, following my most recent visit.