Summer gardens in Oxfordshire

Alliums in bloom in the Cromwellian Garden, Greys Court, Oxfordshire, in May.

There’s nothing like an English garden on a summer’s day. Small flowers tumble in tangled profusion in herbaceous borders, bright spikes thrust for attention in bedding displays and intrepid climbers splash walls with their colour.

Walking around a garden, drinking in the sight and scent of those full blooms hanging heavy in the languid air of a warm afternoon is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. The National Trust cares for some of the biggest and most beguiling gardens around Oxfordshire.

Chastleton's garden has a wonderfully relaxed, cottage feel. The Jacobean house nestled in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds has been deliberately allowed to retain its air of romantic neglect. The garden has the same dreamy, otherworldly atmosphere with its cloud-shaped topiary and abundance of flowers spilling over the grassy paths.

Greys Court’s garden near Henley-on-Thames was virtually derelict when Lady Brunner took it on in 1937. She transformed it into a series of peaceful, room-like walled gardens, each with its own planting scheme.

In August, there’s a profusion of kitchen garden produce which is used in the café and kitchens and the surplus is available for visitors. In the Rose Garden, the hydrangeas are coming into their own. The award-winning Rosalba and Preziosa open white then gradually age through pink to rich reddish purple. 

The garden at nearby Nuffield Place is gradually being restored to complement the Arts and Crafts former home of philanthropist and Morris motors millionaire Lord Nuffield. The garden is a fitting tribute to a practical, generous man as there’s a thriving kitchen garden, lush planting at the front of the house contained in neat – though not formal – beds, a rockery, woodland garden, wildflower meadow and croquet lawn with mallets for visitors.