Painswick Rococo Garden

Our current snowdrop catalogue is on line here.

Known as the Exedra, this curving Gothic screen is the most famous of the many follies found at Painswick Rococo Garden.

When we traveled to England last year, we visited Painswick Rococo Garden in Gloucestershire.  We went there to see the snowdrops and found tens of thousands of them blooming in one of the most quirky and extravagant gardens I have visited.

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.  Gate leading to Painswick House, which is next to but not part of the garden.

Rococo is a style of art and architecture that originated in France and Italy in the early 1700s.  Rococo gardens were designed as theatrical sets for lavish parties rather than horticultural undertakings.  Garden historians describe them as flamboyant, frivolous, and capricious.  Rococo gardens were laid out with sweeping vistas, framed views, and serpentine paths designed to lead the visitor to explore extravagant water features, staircases, statuary, and especially follies, costly ornamental buildings in diverse architectural styles with no practical purpose.

.Painswick House

Painswick House was purchased and expanded by the Hyett family in the 1730s.  In the 1740s, Benjamin Hyett, the son of the original owner, built the fanciful garden nestled in the hidden valley behind the house.  The garden was created to entertain guests in flamboyant outdoor rooms and to intrigue them into exploring extravagant follies. 

In 1748, Hyett commissioned a painting of the garden, which was used by Lord and Lady Dickinson, direct Hyett descendants, to restore it beginning in the 1970s.  In 1988, the garden was turned over to the Painswick Rococo Garden Trust.  It is the only surviving rococo garden currently open to the public.





Painswick House has a beautiful view of this folly, the two story Pigeon House.

.Visitors entering the garden find themselves on a hillside with a sweeping view of the garden in the valley below.  Here you see the orchard and kitchen garden.  The Exedra is visible on the middle right.


The other half of the view looks towards the bowling green, fish pond, and Snowdrop Grove.


In February, the hillside is packed with the very tall and iconic snowdrop ‘Atkinsii’, which was discovered at Painswick in the 1800s by James Atkins, an estate worker.


Galanthus ‘Atkinsii’


‘Atkinsii’ snowdrops and bearsfoot hellebore along the path to another folly, the Eagle House.


Looking across the orchard at the Eagle House, you can see its lower vaulted chambers built into the hillside.


The Snowdrop Grove is a large woodland area carpeted in white in February.



Many of the snowdrops in the woodland are the double common snowdrop ‘Flore Pleno’.  I have never seen it growing so beautifully.


The garden nestles up to Painswick House on the right in the photo.

.The garden features a gigantic maze.  For scale, find the visitor inside the maze on the outermost path on the right.


Although the garden is only six acres, views like this one from the maze make it seem much larger.


The largest folly known as the Red House.


the orchard


Standing behind the Exedra, you can see its formal garden and beyond that the kitchen garden, bowling green, fish pond, and snowdrop woodland.

We really enjoyed visiting this unusual garden.  I only wish that the weather had cooperated in helping me produce better photos.  During our 12 days in England, the sun never came out, and it rained or snowed, sometimes both, every day.  However, that has not deterred us from contemplating another trip this February.



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16 Responses to “Painswick Rococo Garden”

  1. Hello Carolyn,
    A great review. We’re at last hoping to visit Painswick this season at snowdrop time….and interesting your comment about the UK weather for your visit – throughout the UK.
    We can’t do anything in the garden here right now, everywhere is so wet – no more than 3 dry days in a row since early July.
    Still enough of the UK, after reading about Erie’s enormous snowfall, I do hope that you’ve been spared significant weather?
    Best wishes to you both for 2018 and I might email you photos of a special snowdrop a local gardening friend gave me last year, which no one has yet been able to identify – its a BIG strong elwesii type hybrid,
    Julian & Fiona

    • Julian, I purposefully said England when I mentioned the lack of sun as it was partially sunny when we visited you in Wales—that was the only sun we saw! I wish we would get snow. It is very dry here and extremely cold: temperatures as low as 5 degrees F at night and 18 degrees F during the day—and it’s going on for at least ten days straight. Best wishes to you and Fiona, Carolyn

    • Darla Anderson Says:

      Good Morning Julian & Fiona,
      I am from the US near Washington DC & from your comments assume you live in Wales. I have been researching my ancestors (Davies & Jones) from the St. Ishmael’s Parish in Pembrokeshire. I have made 3 trips to your beautiful country, most recently in Sept & plan to return in July 2019 for my next visit. I have met many Davies cousins & stayed in Skerryback Farm which is where my great great grandparents lived in the 1840s & 50s. It is currently owned by a distant relative who runs a B & B there. My husband & I love hiking the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path & are hoping to eventually cover it all. Where do u live in Wales? We are enchanted by your beautiful country & can’t wait to return!

      • Good morning Darla, Thanks for your interesting comment. If you come over in July and fancy venturing into our neighbouring county of Carmarthenshire, do drop us a line – our garden which opens for charity for the National Gardens Scheme isn’t officially open then, but I’m sure if we’re around, you’d be most welcome.
        Meantime I’m sure you love the coastal path. I gather from Kevin my brother in law who walked it all in one 15 day session that it’s ranked as one of the top 3 walks in the world – with some justification. You might enjoy Kevin’s fascinating blog about the whole of his trip, which can be found here. I joined him for his last short day and couldn’t have managed anymore I don’t think in one session!
        Best wishes
        Julian & Fiona

    • Darla Anderson Says:

      Julian & Fiona,
      Thank you for the interesting blog post…I can’t wait to read all about Kevins’s adventures on the Coastal Path. We would love to visit your garden in Carmarthenshire on our next trip to Wales. We will be visiting the week of July6-13th. 2019. I know that is a ways out, but I like to plan ahead. My email is I and would love to get your contact information. It’s a bit awkward communicating through this garden blog, although I’m excited to have communicated with you both and thank Carolyn for giving us this opportunity. Please contact me via my email. We are finally getting a break later this week from our brutal weather and perhaps our frozen tundra will start to thaw!
      Darla Anderson

  2. One of my favourite snowdrop gardens, I don’t think there were quite that many when we went. Always worth a visit.

  3. What a fascinating garden! The stately homes in the UK are real treasures and the gardens are exquisite: it looks like you so enjoyed your time there around the magical Cotswolds 🙂

  4. Incredible to see those snowdrops drifting along the grounds. So beautiful. Happy New Year to you. /susie

  5. Sylvia Eckles Says:

    Hi, Carolyn.  Your posts are truly enjoyable, particularly those relating to your visits to England and discovering the different varieties of snowdrops. This takes me back to my childhood when, each Spring, I would walk to the woods to gather the sweet-smelling, pale yellow primroses, white anemones, and bluebells nestled among the bracken. In my mother’s garden, the harbingers of Spring – the crocus – would “bravely” appear after the snow receded. I remember my mother’s delight at the first sight of them. Thank you for your beautiful photography and displays. Sylvia Eckles

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  6. Darla Anderson Says:

    Beautiful pics…worth the weather. I’m near DC and we just had an inch of snow last night, but not nearly enough moisture this fall. I went outside yesterday (our 1st day above freezing in 8 days) and sprayed my camellias, Daphne’s, acuba, nandina and ilycium with Wiltpruf. Hope it helps them survive with temps the next 2 days in the single digits, high winds and windchills below -10. It’s been a brutal winter so far & it’s just started!

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