Imaginative topiary and a wonderful knot garden attract visitors to a delightful three-acre Cotswolds garden

Surrounding the elegant 18th century Bourton House, outside of Moreton-in-Marsh lies a garden that will take your breath away.

A riot of colour in the summer and early autumn, the structure of the garden is more evident in winter and early spring. This three-acre garden is divided up into clearly defined sections, either by distinct colour palettes or by imaginative topiary.

On entering the garden, you first encounter the Topiary Walk where box hedge buttresses stand guard against a wall, interspersed with large urns of tulips and later white argyranthemums.

Classical ball, cone and spiral box lines the edge of the walk. This leads you to the White Garden, planted to give interest in every season. Argyranthemum ‘Quinta White’ burst like exploding sputniks, delicate Japanese anemones and frothy Rosa ‘Iceberg’ can all be found here. A few curious sheep or cows may well peer through the wrought iron gate, just checking up that you aren’t taking any cuttings!

On the main lawn you can stand and admire the elegance and beauty of the 18th century Manor House. At the end of the lawn is a raised walk which overlooks a quintessentially English scene of pasture land and a few honey coloured Cotswold stone buildings.

To the right of the house is a ‘warm’ border where the dominant colours are oranges, reds and yellows. Drama and intense colour dominate this East border with exotic looking plants such as Canna Durban and more familiar ones with fiery colours, such as Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’.

As the garden is intensively planted with half-hardy plants, it remains vibrant and fresh throughout the summer and into the autumn. Even in October, the garden maintains a stunning display of colour from a great variety of plants. Visitors are often surprised when they visit to find that the garden keeps on going when other gardens are past their best.

To the left of the garden, softer hues dominate the herbaceous border, with pinks, purples and lilacs. Here in the West border you will also find the sculptural Tetrapanax rex, which is carefully wrapped up in fleece like a parcel for Christmas during the winter!

In the unique Shade House, the light is beautiful on a sunny day, falling in lines through the narrow slats. Here you will find many unusual shade-loving plants, delicate cyclamen and bold Podophyllum versipelle.

In every corner of the garden one is constantly delighted by unusual and striking plants, such as the Brugmansia suaveolens, aptly known as Yellow Angel’s Trumpet and the intensely coloured Amaranthus caudatus (Love-lies-a-bleeding).

A striking feature of Bourton House Garden is the elegant and imaginative topiary. In the Knot Garden, one can imagine a Lilliputian getting lost in the intricate design of the low box hedging.

Surrounding a central wrought iron gazebo in front of the house is The Parterre; the extravagant topiary swirls, curves and spirals require many hours of clipping by the gardeners.

There is nothing subtle about the magnificent overflowing hanging baskets and urns, they seem to be shouting out ‘Look at me!’ and always enchant visitors who leave with new ambitions for their pots at home.

Jacky Rae has been at Bourton House Garden for 17 years and took over as head gardener from Paul Nicholls a year ago. She is enjoying her role and the opportunity to introduce some exciting new ideas whilst still maintaining the integrity of this much-loved garden. Gareth Griffith, assistant gardener, loves the variety of trees, especially the magnificent beech in the corner of the garden. Tom Benfield is the newest member of the team and is particularly taken with the architecture of the magnificent 16th Century Tithe Barn, where visitors can have a light lunch or enjoy a delicious home-made tea.

Bourton House Garden has a special atmosphere and many visitors return often. People say that it lifts their spirits, calms them when they are stressed and that it has a magical atmosphere. Whether you intend to visit soon on a bright summer’s day or later in the early autumn, you are sure to be enchanted by this special garden.

Bourton House Garden is open Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm until the end of October. The Tithe Barn Tea Room is open May to September.

Bourton House Garden, Bourton-on-the-Hill,
Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 9AE. For more information
call 01386 700754 or email

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