I’ve been meaning for years to visit Painswick Rococo Garden near Cheltenham, and this year finally got there during snowdrop season. Thank you flexi days which mean I can go wherever I want with my camera, where N would refuse to go.
Mid February was a good time to visit. The snowdrops were still out although nearing their end, but I also had the treat of their daffodils being out. Much earlier than ours at home.
The history of Painswick Rococo Garden
Painswick Rococo Garden is a historic garden originally designed in the 1740s for the owner’s guests to party and be entertained in during this ‘Rococo’ period. The garden was designed within the valley, its high sides protecting it with paths throughout and follies to enjoy the views. This over the top Rococo style fell out of favour, so was adapted to a more landscape garden look after that period.
A local artist painted the garden in 1748, and it was this painting which inspired and helped the restoration back to its Rococo roots, from the 1970s onwards.
Enjoying the garden
I arrived early, so there weren’t too many people around. You’re free to walk around the garden however you want, and there’s plenty of paths and follies to enjoy.
The snowdrops are a carpet on the valley sides and in the woodland areas. They’ve got 15 known varieties of snowdrops, so you can try spotting the different versions.
They’re even around the pond, and created some lovely reflections in the sun.
The woodland area is lovely to walk around, with wooden carvings in the trees to spot. There are also large wooden sculptures standing and hanging around the garden. Most have plaques to explain them although some were a bit of a mystery to me. The giant snowdrop amongst the real flowers was lovely to see.
As well as the snowdrops, there were hellebores and the carpet of daffodils which looked beautiful under the orchard trees.
At this time of year obviously the archway and Beech Walk aren’t showing their leaves, so it would be good to enjoy those later in the year.
Around the garden there are follies built. Places to sit and enjoy the views. In some there were guest information panels, and a second hand book library. One I also spotted etched words on the windows which were interesting to read.
As well as the main pond, there’s also the plunge pool and the gorgeous white Exedra arched folly which overlooks the main area of the garden.
One end of the woods there’s also the rustic children’s play area. They also run children’s trails during holiday times. So it’s not just a garden for adults to enjoy.
I didn’t get up to the maze, but it’s up on the hillside, where parents can direct children from outside it to one, or each of the 3 centres.
On the way out there’s the temporary cafe with limited food options, and a warm teepee you can have your refreshments in during the colder months.
I have to admit I was expecting the garden to be larger. Just walking round and enjoying the views, follies and flowers took me an hour, so allow for longer if you’ve got children wanting to explore the maze or play areas. Or in warmer drier months when the kitchen garden area is open. It was closed off when I was there as the grass paths through it would have been more boggy.
Check out what flowers are in season through the year to plan when to visit gardens.
If you’re visiting Painswick you need to know that being in a valley it’s very steep on some of the paths and getting down into the garden. Not much is accessible to wheelchairs or buggies. There’s also a lot of building work going on at the moment (Spring 2023) as they’re redeveloping the cafe and welcome centre and have temporary toilets.
Although the paths are generally woodbarked, parts of the site could be a little slippy in wet or icy weather. So stick with sturdy shoes or boots if it’s been wet. There’s also open water, so keep an eye on small children.
Seasonal times of year, like for the snowdrops, you do need to book in advance. And the main car park isn’t large, so you may end up parking on a sloping field if you’re a later arrival in the day.
There are picnic bench areas, so you can take a picnic, but I didn’t notice bins around the garden, so make sure you take any rubbish away with you.
I really enjoyed walking around the snowdrops at Painswick Rococo Gardens, and I might head back there later in the year when more of the flowers are out and blooming.
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