picnic and tour of Pettifers open garden

Visiting Pettifers garden tour and picnic

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It’s been a long time since I’ve seen most of my work friends in person. Some I’ve seen on screen, very few I’ve seen face to face. So when one suggested a girls evening doing a garden tour and picnic at Pettifers garden near here, I decided I needed to make it work and go along. After all, friends, chatting, food, and floral photo opportunities. It had me written all over it.

picnic and tour of Pettifers open garden

Pettifers is a beautiful garden in north Oxfordshire. The vision and creation of it was brought to life by the house owner Gina Price. She took advice from other gardeners, but otherwise created it the way she wanted it and has developed it further over the years since 1984. 

She’s made changes with the seasons, or as and when she wanted. The full time gardener Polly, led our tour, telling us about the start and development of the garden, explained her work there, and answered our questions.

looking down across Pettifers garden
overlooking a seating area at pettifers garden

Pettifers open for private tours, which is a great idea if you can get a group of friends together. I’d never have thought that private gardens open for tours, but maybe I need to do a bit of investigation into other places I can explore.

The garden is beautiful. 1 ½ acres of huge floral borders, a parterre, sculpted trees, paddock, seating area, and a pretty greenhouse

looking down wider floral borders at an open garden
yellow leaf like flowers
white onion like flower buds

We were able to explore, ask questions about the flowers, and just enjoy the beautiful space at our leisure.

The biggest tip was always to have wide borders.  It really does make a statement.  Although perennials are too much effort for me. I’d want flowers that just come up every year with no effort.  

smelling the roses in a raspberry lighthouse jacket
purple alliums i front of other flowers
pink flowers in the boreder at Pettifers
big ferns in front of flowers

They also stick with flowers rather than having lots of shrubs or trees. It means there’s so much colour. Perfect for me wearing my Lighthouse coat. Everyone laughed at how I colour coordinated with lots of the flowers!  It’s a great coat for a summer evening once the sun goes in. And handy to have just in case it rains.

sitting posing on a blue bench amongst flowers
selfie in front of pink flowers
formal garden decoration
beautiful multicoloured irises
pettifers yew designs and views down the garden

Pettifers kindly let us have our picnic there too. It was a great spread that we all brought food for. We laid everything out on stone benches, pulled up our seats, and ate well. It was a lovely sociable evening catching up with everyone. There was a little drizzle by the end of the night, but it was time to pack up anyway. We even saw a little mouse coming in and out of the stone wall gaps, but it didn’t come near us or our food.

blue green house above us
standing in front of a wall amongst garden flowers
mini white and burgundy colour succulents in a tub
pink and green cabbage like succulents in a pot

It felt like a really civilised summer evening. A shame the sun didn’t stay out for longer. But hopefully we’ll have another evening like that before the summer’s out.

I’d definitely recommend looking out for any gardens local to you who do private tours. It makes a nice evening out for a group of friends.

Have you ever done something similar?

Like this post, try these other tips for nearby days out.

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