A Cotswold garden with a difference - Mill Dene
Gloucestershire is home to many great and glorious gardens - you'll find the extraordinary (Sezincote); the stunning (Kiftsgate); the grand houses (Bourton House and Snowshill Manor); the castles (Sudeley) and really special small properties (Stone House); but there's no other garden like Mill Dene. This is the brain child of Wendy Dare and her husband who moved here nearly 50 years ago ....and they've been working on the garden ever since!
Mill Dene is one of 100 very special gardens featured in a new book: "Dream Gardens of England" (definitely one to put on your Christmas wishlist), which describes it as a "watery wonderland in a steep valley around an old mill". And watery wonderland it is, with the views over the mill pond (above), but there are also views of the church in the village of Blockley behind, and although the house and garden cover just 2.5 acres, it feels as though you're in a much bigger wonderland than this because there is so much to see and winding paths lead you through many different areas including vegetable and fruit gardens, a cricket lawn, a grotto and a potager with culinary and medicinal plants.
The original mill was probably one of the 12 Blockley mills mentioned in the Doomsday Book and has been variously used as a corn, flour, wool and silk mill. It was even used as a forge to make steam engine castings at the beginning of the 20th century, before being sold as a private house. The Dare family arrived here in 1964 and purchased one half of the property which was derelict, but eventually acquired the other half 12 years later. Its great charm today is that it feels like a private garden.
This garden exudes charm and humour and you cannot miss the owner's sense of fun - you'll find many unusual features here, so do make the effort to visit! Wendy Dare's clever planting means that there's always something in bloom right through from springtime, when the whole garden is awash with bulbs, to autumn when the trees begin to turn. Mill Dene is very close to Bourton House, Sezincote and Snowshill Manor, so you could happily spend a couple of days looking at all these local gardens.