Visiting friends at the weekend we were delighted to hear they had booked tickets for a visit to the rococo gardens at Painswick in Gloucestershire, a short drive from where they live. The gardens are famous for the spectacular annual snowdrop display but I was pleasantly surprised by how many other fascinating things there were to discover there. Pigeon House conundrum anyone?
Designed in the 1740s as a pleasure garden with a number of fanciful follies and features for the owner of Painswick House (not open to the public)
In case you are as baffled as I was, the conundrum is that the outside of the pigeon house (pictured above) has corners while the inside is circular which you can see if you are brave enough to climb a narrow curving stone staircase.
There were sadly no pigeons in it but I can understand the need to keep them out of this beautiful old building. Destructive little buggers, pigeons.
I was also very taken by the plunge pool, one of a number of water features around the grounds. Fed by a natural spring so always cool, you are invited to dip your feet into the water. I decided on a windy January day that I would save that adventure for a return visit on a warmer day. Some of the attractions you can spot along the woodland walk are not as old as others including a nice play area for children, a maze and a cute fairytale castle perched atop of tree trunk.
The gardens are on contoured ground but we didn't find any of the hilly areas particularly steep even though I have fibromyalgia and my husband has interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. There are lots of benches anyway to catch your breath or admire the view in this stunning valley.
The pathways can get muddy and whatever time of year you visit I would recommend using a sling or a robust (probably three wheeler) buggy for babies. Parts of the garden are wheelchair accessible - check in the FAQ section on the Rococo Garden website for the access routes map.
There is a cafe and toilets and a small gift shop. You are also welcome to take a picnic to enjoy in the garden - there are picnic tables dotted about. We commented that it would be lovely to have an annual membership to see the gardens through all the seasons as well as the beautiful snowdrops.
If you want to see the snowdrops it's suggested that this week (first week in February) will see them at their peak. There is a space on the website space dedicated to the snowdrop spectacular which has been named by The Observer newspaper as one of the best places to see snowdrops in the UK.
Expect to spend a couple of hours at Painswick Rococo Gardens, exploring and enjoying a cuppa in the cafe.
Disclaimer: I was not rewarded in any way for sharing this information.