The Broadway Hotel is surrounded by some of the best gardens that the Cotswolds and Worcestershire have to offer. Here’s our guide to gardens that are within easy reach of the village, including some lesser-known Cotswold gems.
National Trust Gardens
If you’re a National Trust member, you’ll be completely spoiled for choice in the Cotswolds. We may as well begin with the greatest of them all:
Hidcote Manor Garden
is the National Trust’s flagship garden. It was, in fact, the first garden donated to the Trust and for visitors from around the world it seems to represent the essence of English gardening. It features a combination of formal layouts, informal garden ‘rooms’ and classic English features from a ‘ha-ha’ to overflowing herbaceous borders. The creator was the reclusive Lawrence Johnston who had a passion for collecting rare plants. Vita Sackville-West described Hidcote as ‘a jungle of beauty controlled by a single mind’.
The garden’s Red Border is a lush and extravagant display which runs into late summer.
Snowshill is a neighbouring village of great charm and the Manor is surely one of the most extraordinary of all the National Trust properties in England. It’s most famous for the owner’s collection of objects from around the world. Charles Wade seemed to collect anything from Samurai armour to his World War 2 gas mask. The little organic hillside garden is set in beautiful countryside and echoes the Hidcote style with garden ‘rooms’ and Cotswold stone buildings surrounding.
Yet another National Trust gem. The house is Jacobean and, to use a cliche, the interior is a real time capsule of an experience. The garden is scenic and features topiary that is strongly evocative of the Tudor and Jacobean eras - so much so that the house, courtyard and gardens were used as locations for the BBC’s ‘Wolf Hall’ series.
The croquet lawn is an unusual feature - this is where the rules of croquet were first codified.
Cotswold National Trust properties can be busy in the peak months - and so it’s a good idea to book in advance in some cases. Alternatively read on for some quieter gardens, or consider a visit to Croome House, where the ‘Capability’ Brown parkland setting ensures plenty of space. The walled kitchen garden is the star attraction here.
Castles and Country House Gardens near Broadway
Sudeley Castle was home of Katherine Parr (Henry’s last wife - she survived him). The setting is wonderful, and the little chapel where Katherine lies is one of those atmospheric places where a deep sense of British history draws you in. The gardens (they claim to have ten distinct gardens) surround the castle and many people plan their visit to coincide with the summer rose season when over 80 varieties are on display.
Kiftsgate Court is not far from the entrance to Hidcote Manor garden. To visit both in one day is a real immersion in Cotswolds gardening history. Kiftsgate’s gardens were created by three generations of women gardeners, beginning in the 1920s and 30s.
As work continued on the garden at Kiftsgate, there was some pride in the fact that there was less of a masterplan than at Hidcote. So, expect fewer straight lines, and more evidence of things being added to over time (‘evolution rather than revolution’ as the current owner describes it). There are many highlights, but the annual flowering of the Kiftsgate Rose (Rosa filipes ‘Kiftsgate’) which here rises to the height of a house, is spectacular. Early to mid July is the time to look for this.
Adam Frost, from BBC’s Gardener’s World. was clearly smitten on his visit to Bourton House. “Probably one of the best summer gardens I’ve seen” he enthused in 2019 and, ever since this previously lesser-known garden, has risen to the top of the ‘must visit’ list for many Cotswold visitors. The praise is deserved, the colour combinations in the garden’s terraces and deep herbaceous borders are terrific.
It’s a good garden to visit later in the main summer season when many gardens have already peaked - they have worked here on providing what they call a ‘late summer flourish’.
‘India in the Cotswolds’ says their website and it’s hard not to have your spirits lifted by the sight of the weathered copper dome on top of this 200-year-old Mogul Indian mansion, all set in Cotswold countryside. The landscape is romantically dotted with spring-fed waterways, temples, grottoes and waterfalls. If you plan to visit several Cotswold gardens during your stay, Sezincote is a wonderful ‘wild card’ to add to the list.
At the time of writing, the main snowdrop season is nearly here. As you travel around, you’ll spot them in woodland or tucked up against Cotswold stone walls, but for large scale displays head to Colesbourne Park
or Painswick Rococo Garden,
where spectacular banks of little nodding white flower heads await in February. Always book ahead at snowdrop time.
The National Arboretum is at Westonbirt
in the Cotswolds. Understably, it’s hugely busy in autumn. Closer to Broadway, Batsford Arboretum
is another popular autumn hotspot (it’s worth booking ahead here too), but in fact Batsford is well worth visiting at any time of year, for its snowdrops, spring-flowering bulbs or spectacular springtime Japanese flowering cherries. In the summer the trees make Batsford a cool breezy setting to escape the heat.
Special praise for Batsford’s garden centre, which is the perfect place to pick up a real, living Cotswold souvenir.
Incidentally Batsford is very close to Bourton House Garden and Sezincote House - an extraordinary grouping of spectacular gardens to visit with almost walking distance of each other.
Some Lesser-Known Gardens
Most visitors to Chipping Camden are duly impressed by the 14th and 15th century frontages along the town’s historic High Street. Not quite so many visitors make it as far as the Ernest Wilson Memorial Garden
, a tranquil spot set behind a featureless wall in Leysbourne, which is the name given to the High Street as it leads out of the centre of Campden.
The Memorial Garden is an easy walk from the centre. You’ll discover a quiet little botanical garden named after Ernest Henry Wilson who was a well-known plant enthusiast around the year 1900. He brought, for example, over a thousand individual plants over from America and joined plant hunting trips to China, amongst other places.
If you enoy discovering smaller gardens, do check the National Garden Scheme website to see what is open during your visit. Several Broadway gardens are involved and for a small charitable donation you can usually met the owners, have a good look around and often enjoy tea and scones.
One garden that we rate very highly and isn’t so well-known is Cerney House Garden. It’s a 45 minute drive, but the route back can lead past many of the most famous Cotswold villages. Cerney House’s Victorian walled garden was described by Country Living as "what most people aspire to in their gardens – and few achieve”.
If you’re visiting in the summer, our best tip is to look out for village fetes and garden shows in the villages around Broadway, such as at Snowshill, Upper Slaughter and Notgrove. Very often the local Manor will open up its garden and there are always afternoon teas to be had. You’ll meet the locals when they’re ‘at play’ and get up close to cottage gardens and village greens. There will almost always be a bargain plant stall too. We especially recommend Stanway House
Fete, which has all the great features of an English fete, but with the unusual bonus of an on-site brewery and the extraordinary gravity-fed fountain which is one of the great Cotswold experiences.
It’s clear that garden lovers should stay in the Cotswolds for more than just a couple of nights. Fortunately, we have a Cotswolds Mini Break offer on the website to help you. You might also consider one of our lovely, award-winning cottages to really immerse yourself in Cotswolds' gardening culture over the course of a week or two.