On the southern edge of the Cotswolds, five acres of enchanting and intimate gardens have captured my heart. In the shade of a 12th-century benedictine abbey in Malmesbury, Abbey House Gardens have been dramatically reworked by Ian and Barbara Pollard since they took up residence in 1994. Designed with a playful formality, their devotion to the gardens is evident in every footstep.
A myriad of paths merge from one beautiful scene to another. It would be easy to imagine gossamer-clad, sylph-like figures playing hide and seek in such a place flittering to and fro in its maze of green corridors.
The gardens were once part of the Benedictine Monastery, tended by monks growing medicinal herbs. Now the impressive herbarium is bursting at the seams with beneficial aromatics. Encircled by an oak latticed arcade echoing the arches of the neighbouring abbey, upon which a botanical cocktail of diligently trained Medlar, Pear, Peach and Apple abundantly coexist with roses and clematis.
A dazzling colour wheel of roses in vibrant kaleidoscopic hues vie for your attention throughout the upper gardens urging to become bewitched by their velvet beauty.
Keep an eye out for Brutus the Leopard Spot Egyptian Tortoise...
The garden is full of twists and turns teasing you to explore further to see what you might discover.
There is an underlining magical energy at work here. I'm sure I felt those monks moving amongst us.
Contrary to the upper gardens, behind the main house a network of zig-zagging pathways leading you down to the tranquil lower water gardens. The descent to the river softened with Rhododendron, Azalea, Camelia, Acer, Hydrangea and of one of my favourite plants, Podophyllum virtually unseen in other gardens I have visited!
Known as “The Naked Gardeners” Ian and Barbara are famous for doing it all in the buff and once a month during the summer give visitors to the garden the opportunity if they so wish to also discard their attire.
Even though we chose to remain clothed, there is a sense of freedom that is evident behind the walls of Abbey House, a magical eden where you can leave your inhibitions behind, throwing caution to the wind and your pants in the air, to chase some pretty butterflies in a gorgeous garden!