Thursday, 18 June 2015


KIFTSGATE -  A garden to experience

For some reason,  I found it quite difficult to photograph Kiftsgate.  This is a garden for the senses and one 'feels'  it rather than observes meticulous lines and clipped topiaries.   Three generations of women gardeners, have made Kiftsgate what it is today.  The garden is still privately owned by Anne and Johnny Chambers and they work very hard in the garden, and share it with thousands of visitors each year, giving them the delight that it gave us.  As we waited for the gate to open at precisely 12.00noon, Johnny Chambers drove up in his car to open it.  

These beautiful Irises against the stone wall greeted us as drove up to the manor house and parked.

The  house and garden are positioned on the top of a rather steep hill with magnificent views towards the Vale of Evesham.  Kiftsgate Court was built in 1887-91 by Sydney Graves Hamilton.  The Georgian front with high portico was physically moved, using a light railway, from his ancestor's home in Mickleton to this site.  It is hugely impressive, even though an 'unfortunate' Victorian back was built behind it!

In the early 1920's, Anne Chambers' grandparents bought Kiftsgate.   Her grandmother,  Heather Muir, began creating the garden.  She and Lawrence Johnston who created Hidcote, enjoyed a close friendship over the years and no doubt inspired each other enormously.

Looking through the Scotch Firs towards the Vale of Evesham

Anne Chambers' mother, Diana Binny, had this pool built in the Lower Garden in the 1960's.

The Wide Border, rather pre-Summer.  I couldn't help wishing we had visited a couple of weeks later!  "The grass path which runs down the middle, is far from straight and we encourage plants to fall over the edge of the borders much to the annoyance of the mower!"

The owner's mother, Diana Binny bought the well head fountain seen above at the Chelsea Flower Show and had the small pond and fountain installed into the White Sunk Garden in 1972/3.  This garden was originally designed as a white garden by the owner's grandmother.  Other colours have since been added.

The White Sunk Garden

The other side of the White Sunk Garden

Looking through the tapestry hedge, now dominated by Copper Beech, through the Rose Border towards the arch of clipped Whitebeam.

After passing through the Whitebeam archway,  we came across this little fernery.  I love the Aliums peeping over the gate.

The New Water Garden was added by the current owners.  Simon Allison produced twenty-four stainless steel stems topped with 'golden' leaves moulded from a philodendron.  Their gentle swaying and reflection in the dark water is captivating.

Stepping down towards the semi-circular pool

The views are magnificent

The Tearoom at Kiftsgate enjoys an excellent reputation.  We had a salmon salad, followed by  Victorian sponge cake and coffee.  The tearoom is run by Jenny Glover who has spent a lifetime in catering.      


  1. What a fabulous garden - so loved the softness and abundance of plants and then the lovely contrast to the new water garden with clipped hedges.
    Definitely will be one to add to my list Jenny, I can see why you loved this garden so.
    Enjoy your family holiday in Provence
    Best Wishes Marilyn xx

    1. You will definitely adore this garden Marilyn... it needs to be experienced and one cannot do enough justice through photos or text. xx

  2. Gorgeous, love all the photos and am dying to visit Kiftsgate having loved hearing about it from FF as well. I too like having my borders spread over the lawn, but it does indeed make mowing difficult… and as my husband is the mower he does not understand why I want it like that and will hack everything back. Grrr! Especially love the composition of the sunken garden - the fountain looks like it was always supposed to be there - a perfect fit!

    1. The softness and lack of absolute perfection makes this garden enchanting Heidi. It is difficult to believe that anyone wouldn't love it...

  3. Kiftsgate is a very difficult place to photograph- I felt it had a beautiful soul and had such a different feminine feel after the strength of Lawrence's Hidcote. It had a special feeling and perhaps it is the meandering paths and views. I hope you luffed it and thought of me! I had an amazing time there. All love x

    1. After visiting Kiftsgate, I totally understood your comments after your visit FF. There is SO much soul and emotion to be experienced while walking around. The love bestowed on the garden by the three generations is very evident. xx


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