With my son off to study in Oxford, I’ve been visiting the Cotswolds regularly for the past few months and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, so glorious is that region for photographers. A couple of weeks ago, I published photographs of Westonbirt arboretum, in Tetbury, thinking that little could beat the red and yellow riot in the morning sun. I was wrong!
And if you think the best Stratford upon Avon can offer us togs is a selfie in front of Will’s birth place, you’re wrong too. ’cause you see, only a few miles away lies and absolute must for photo-oriented visitors. Perched on a beautiful South-facing hill on the outskirts of (also lovely) Moreton in Marsh, Batsford arboretum is an ideal place to startle pixels for 30 minutes or a whole day. Batsford arboretum will be one of the highlights of the upcoming InSight: Cotswolds guide.
With a size of 56 acres and countless angles and points of view, there are limitless possibilities for varied compositions.
A Japanese theme garden also lends the place a very spiritual feeling and provides yet more opportunities for creative photographs and colour blends.
The garden owners, a charitable Trust, are also very photographer friendly and the official website offers plenty of interesting information on what to expect at the various times of year.
Being mainly woodlands with a very natural feel, rather than the usual collection of trees on a big lawn that most arboretums tend to be, I’m positive any season will delight. October will probably offer the stronger hues, but that’s not really what this garden is about for me.
Sure, it offers the great estate castle you expect to see in Downton Abbey and similar programs. Sure, it has the great sweeping views over the valley. There’s even a very nice church on the grounds.
But, for me, the real beauty lies in the informal design, with paths taking you through a great variety of plants without ever feeling like anything else than a natural forest.
And the designers and current gardeners seem to own a special talent at playing with the beauty of decay in Autumn and – judging by other photographs than mine, the beauty of resurrection in Spring.
There is no display, no pride of collecting or attempt to master mother nature. On the contrary, the particular genius of the design is the ability to create a canvas where nature can have its way in the most beautiful manner.
Other gardens innovate and display very modern genius. But here, you can feel a very ancient magic at work. The barks are gnarlier, the moss is greener and the scents more bewitching. It’s just plain obvious that Elves come out at night to rearrange the leaves and flowers in a way that’s in balance with Natural Law and maximizes the aesthetics of the scenery for us photographers.
OK, I’ll shut up now 😉 But this really is a beautiful place and I cannot recommend it enough if you’re practising on your photographic skills and possibilities are endless. I probably won’t be able to visit this winter but will be back in spring. Stay tuned. Your pics are welcome, if you visit before I do!
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Some great colour and moods here P. I think I should put the area on my to-do list next time I head to the UK.
Thanks Paul. It’s a very interesting area.