Book review - Kiftsgate Court Gardens

Kiftsgate Court Gardens; Three Generations of Women Gardeners by Vanessa Berridge is published by Merrell  

Situated high up on a north Cotswold hillside, right next to the more famous Hidcote, Kiftsgate Court is a more intimate garden altogether.  This is not least because it’s been gardened by three generations of women from Heather Muir at the turn of the century to current owner Anne Chambers

This beautifully-illustrated book explores the history of the family and how the garden has developed over the last 100 years. The Muirs created the main structure, making a virtue of the steep banks with paths and terracing planted with Mediterranean shrubs inspired by their summers spent on the Northern Italian coast.  Heather Muir’s daughter Diany expanded the planting areas, created the swimming pool and opening the garden to the public, while Anne has added the modern water garden, the mound and nursery.

We then get an in-depth tour of the different parts of the garden from the formal areas around the house, to the bluebell woods and orchard with its meadow planting, going into detail on many of the plants.  Shrubs are used particularly well at Kiftsgate and in the sunken garden – originally planned as a white garden – we learn that the white shrubs include pretty deutzia as well as carpentaria and staphyllea.  Kiftsgate is also famous for its roses, including the giant white ‘Kiftsgate’ ramblera and the book details many of the varieties, mostly in a romantic palette of whites, pinks, purples and lilacs.

This is the first book on Kiftsgate and the author gives us a true understanding of how it manages to balance continuity and progress.  And as a garden packed with gorgeous and unusual plants, it’s a wonderful resource for anyone looking for gardening inspiration.  I read it with a pen and paper making a wish list as long as my arm.  Be warned!