November's Featured Garden
Batsford Arboretum and Woodland Garden is one of the finest places in Britain to view autumn leaf colours.
It was originally designed and created in the late 1800s by Algernon Freeman Mitford - later Lord Redesdale – who, as a diplomat for the British Government, had spent much of his career working for the Foreign Office in China and Japan, where he fell in love with the plants and planting styles he encountered.
During this time Lord Redesdale became an accomplished plantsman and in particular, an authority on bamboos. On his return to England in 1890 he began to create a wild garden with an oriental theme at his Batsford home in the Cotswolds.
Lord Redesdale imported bronze statues of Buddha, a Foo Dog and Japanese Sika Deer; planted hundreds of Asian trees and shrubs; built a life-size replica of a Japanese Rest House and created a 600 metre-long artificial stream complete with pools, cascades and a Japanese-style bridge.
All of this still exists today and the tree collection has developed into one of the best in private hands.
Batsford has a very different character to its larger arboreal Cotswold cousin at Westonbirt. In addition to the oriental influences, Batsford sits on a southeast-facing limestone escarpment with spectacular views towards the Cotswold town of Moreton-in-Marsh and the Evenlode valley beyond. The grounds, covering 20 hectares (50 acres), role gently down the slope – as does the original stream – bordered by great clumps of bamboo and frothy plantings of astibles, hostas and rodgersias. This sloping topography allows visitors the chance to get above the surrounding trees, providing opportunities to look down upon (or sometimes even meet at eye level) such botanical delights as flowering magnolias, cherries and the amazing Pocket Handkerchief Tree.
Containing close on one hundred different species of Magnolia and holding the National Collection (NCCPG) of Japanese Sato-Zakura village cherries, Batsford is a fine garden to visit in spring, however autumn leaf colours in October are also magnificent. Situated alongside the arboretum is the Batsford Falconry Centre with daily flying demonstrations.