The Courts Garden, Nr Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

Monday 20 April 2020:  Another Garden revisited during lockdown.  I visited The Courts Garden 6 years ago on 21 April 2012

Following a wonderful weekend with family in Somerset, after breakfast this morning we studied the National Trust guide book for a garden to visit on our way home – one that we had not been to before.  My eye fell upon The Courts Garden, Nr Bradford on Avon .  What a beautiful, tranquil gem we found.

This absolute delight of a true English Country Garden is tucked away in the village of Holt, between Melksham and Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire. Parking is  in the small Village Hall car park in the road opposite with overflow parking further along.

We were lucky with the weather, the sun was hot and the sky an amazing blue.  The first thing that struck me, despite the number of people in the garden, was the peace and tranquillity, the birds were singing loudly high in the trees and I immediately fell in love with The Courts Garden.


Created in the early 1900’s the garden is based on the model of  Hidcote and the subtle colour combinations, sense of flowing harmony and balance has a Gertrude Jekyll influence.   Major Clarence Goff and his wife Lady Cecilie purchased The Courts in 1922 and were instrumental for a lot of the planting.   Their daughter continued to live at Courts Garden after it was acquired by the National Trust in 1943 and she planted the surrounding arboretum in 1952.  The house is not open to the public and remains occupied by tenants.

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Courts Garden is absolutely charming with many interesting plants and excellent use of colour.  At this time of the year, as to be expected, almost every border is planted with tulips.  They were all cleverly coloured matched and contrasted, such as a very pretty pale pink and lilac Erysimum with sugary pink tulips as a backdrop.

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The garden and arboretum covers 7 acres but appears larger, because of the various “rooms” enclosed with Yew and Box.  There is one thing about the garden that I didn’t like that much and that was the border of cloud box hedging.   This type of clipped box hedging leaves me cold, mainly because I don’t understand the artistic nature of such a design.

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Back to what I did like.  I particularly liked the combination of dark, almost black, tulips dotted through the Stipa Ornamental grasses.

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The water gardens contain a rectangular lily pond with masses of waterlilies in the large pool and beyond, in a second pool, are Giant Gunnera.

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I understand from the lady in the ticket office that there is a team of 4 National Trust gardeners and 24 dedicated volunteers.   They certainly work very hard, the lawn edges were neatly trimmed and I couldn’t see a weed anywhere –  neither could I see any slug/snail damage!   The small vegetable garden is relatively recent and there are established peach tree espaliers and an apple orchard, with the blossom looking fabulous.

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In another part of the garden, there was a striking border of white and green striped tulips, which I believe are called “Spring Green”,  interspersed with a brilliant white tulip.

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I was loathe to leave this garden, and could have spent much more time just wandering around.  I know I would have found something new every time, but have promised myself that I will return in the Summer.  With the Spring planting about to go over in the next few weeks, there is a lot of Summer planting still to come through and I can imagine that the colours in the herbaceous borders will be magnificent.   With most of the Alliums and Peonies showing tantalising promises with their tight buds, I will leave you with a photo of one Peony that decided it was warm enough to flower.


The Courts Garden is open from 11:00 to 17:30 every day except Wednesday.  If you are in the vicinity I would thoroughly recommend that you don’t miss the opportunity to pay a visit.


  1. What a beautiful garden Ronnie. It looks really tranquil. I loved the black tulips and grasses, a brilliant colour combination. I never seem to be able to achieve effects like that in my garden


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