Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
To celebrate the birthday of my lovely wife we decided to treat ourselves to a mini break whilst we were visiting the UK.
We chose Oxford and The Cotswolds, primarily due to the location of a few notable gardens and a long-term desire to spend the night at Raymond Blanc’s famous hotel.
How to get there
It’s an easy drive from London on the M40 and a 10 minute trip out of Oxford to get to the gardens. We were staying the night so were able to explore the gardens in the evening and first thing in the morning. The grand gates signal that you’ve arrived outside the hotel but you have to get very close to be able to read the golden signs clearly. I drove past this entrance twice!!
For me the best parts of the garden were the potager / greenhouse area and the Old Orchard which has recently been redesigned by Chris Beardshaw with perennial underplanting.
List of Gardens
- English Water Garden
- Old Orchard
- Japanese Garden with Tea House
- Mushroom Valley
- Herb Garden
- Vegetable Garden / Potager
The Vegetable Garden
Walking around the quiet vegetable garden as the sun went down was a highlight of our recent visit back to the UK. We could smell the open fires burning and the air was crisp and cool. A perfect dry winter day. The paths are easy to traverse and the display of world-class productive gardening was impressive.
I spent a long time exploring the greenhouse shown below. I’ve taken the details to furnish my imaginary future garden. At this time of year they had a wide variety of chillies and peppers still producing in the sheltered environment. Also, as seen above, were the winter squashes seasoning.
At the furthest point of the grounds, on the other side of the main car park, you’ll find the new orchard. This is a fantastic display of over 800 varieties of fruit. The gardener encouraged us to take an apple to try with no hesitation. They were beautiful.
The Old Orchard
The most popular twitter post I’ve ever had came from this image of Chris Beardshaw’s perennial planting design under the old Orchard. It is a magical area of the garden. I wish I could have spent more time sitting in there but it was dinner time and needs must.
How to visit the garden
One way to get access to the garden is to spend the night at the hotel. For those on a more sensible budget you can join one of the garden group tours which run regularly during the year. I haven’t done this tour but for Thirty Pounds and tea and biscuits included it would definitely be worth the money.