Many ericaceous plants not usually seen in the Cotswolds grow on the 5 acres of Kingham Lodge Gardens, planted over 2 decades. Big display of rhododendron, laburnum arch and azaleas. Formal 150-metre border, backed with trellis, shaded walks with multi-layered planting, an informal quarry pond, formal mirror pond, massive pergola, parterre and unique Islamic garden.
The gardens at Kingham Lodge have been planted over the past two decades, and it has been an enormous family project. Unusually for the Cotswolds, it is situated on sand over gravel, which is suited to growing several ericaceous plants not usually seen in the Cotswolds.
From the cottages, you can walk up past Kite’s gate to the main lawn and then choose your route. Along the 150 metre border, backed with trellis, are two sections – the first, broadly blue and white, and the second, in shades of red, from oranges to purple.
Between this border and the tennis court hedge, there is a quiet green walk leading firstly to the vegetable garden and the tennis court, secondly to the chickens (and compost/bonfire area), and then into, what is called, the Newbury plantation.
Now becoming mature, this area has an over-storey of pine and many varieties of eucalyptus, some badly hurt in the winter of 2010-11. It is underplanted with a layer of lilacs, magnolias, prunus, malus and cherry varieties, and then at ground level, there is a layer of rhododendrons, azaleas, and many other shrubs.
Through the Newbury, you can cross the waterfall by the quarry pond. In May, the laburnum arch to the left and the azaleas look stunning. Carry on walking round the Plantes, named after the circular tree areas that surround Cracow in Poland. These shaded walks have a top storey of deciduous forest trees and a lower level of flowering trees, and a base layer of shrubs and herbaceous planting.
The year starts with aconites flowering under trees. In February, there are thousands of snowdrops giving way to anemones, and species tulips, and then daffodils, tulips, erythronium and many more other later bulbs and irises. There is a rhododendron in bloom from January to July, although the big displays are in May, along with the azaleas.
From the walks are longer views, first of the park areas around Kingham House (a lovely William & Mary house that was once the rectory). Through the gates, commemorating a family wedding in 2006, there are views over the valley to the hills on the Stow-Burford ridge, and then over to Stow, where the tower of St. Edward’s Church can be seen on the horizon.
The return walks take you past the rectangular mirror pond that links with the Islamic pavilion. The unusual green stone sculpture in the middle of the pond was carved in Zimbabwe. After the pond, there are choices to be made between the pergola, flanked with espalier apples and hung with wisterias, clematis, roses and other flowering climbers, or down the Parterre with its complicated patterns of box bushes.
The repeating rhythm of sections each contains a different contemporary design. In celebratory years (such as daughters’ weddings!), these designs are planted with flowering annuals making a rich carpet of colours. At the bottom of both these walks, you will come across an armillary sundial, installed in 2020 to commemorate the 70th birthdays of Chris and Delphie.
This is the best south-facing seat in the garden, so do sit on the large curved oak bench and enjoy the warm sun if it shines during your visit. A wander back across the large main lawn brings the walker back to the path to the cottages, with views of the croquet lawn, the main house and the coach house.
Over the years, Chris and Delphie have used many local tradesmen, including one carpenter Rob who said, ’’I always like working for Chris. I never know what the next mad project will be.’’ That neatly encapsulates the thinking behind Chris’s vision. To date, Rob has made a barrel-shaped roof, lanterns for The Loft and Chris’ office, the shutters in Kite’s Gate, and the pergola in the garden.
Located within the grounds of Kingham Lodge is Kingham Cottages – which offers fabulous self-catering accommodation for a long weekend, mid-week break, or even a lengthier holiday. The four cottages and the holiday apartment have been designed as traditional Cotswold properties. Throughout your stay, you are free to enjoy the 5 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens in the heart of the Cotswolds.
Additional facilities that guests of Kingham Lodge can freely enjoy include an indoor 11m-long heated pool, a hammam (traditional Turkish bath), the Moorish Pavilion that stands in the centre of the garden, and an all-weather hard tennis court.
There is disabled parking on gravel at the entrance and level access to all areas of the garden.