Welcome to the secret suite of rooms: a sanctuary for learning and harmony.

Website last updated on: Tuesday 12th. November 2019

"PURPOSE of the TRUST:  To offer charitable programmes and projects of education, horticulture, wildlife,  conservation and heritage, for the improvement of human well-being in general based upon the founder's garden, library, writings, teachings and spiritual philosophy."

(Registered Charity number: 1174239)


Introduction by the Founder:

" Welcome to my charity garden: a place of wildlife, spirituality, education, art, peaceful repose and harmony.

Here I strive to attain   'Arcadia' - or my  spiritual philosophy of relationship with Nature:  a vision of pastoralism and harmony with nature and the landscape. It is something I feel  to the very core of my being. Nature, wildlife and gardening has always been a passion for me. This  began when I was a child and was engendered by my parents and by my rural upbringing. It was there my sense of and commitment to certain eternal principles and values of the beauteous Oneness was first sparked.

I have a deep love for and empathy with Nature, the landscape and wildlife.  To me my garden is a broad canvas of a spiritual vocation: there I try to delight the eye, gladden the heart, enrich the mind and uplift the soul -not only for myself but for others.

My home and garden is on the Bowood Estate and I have tried to reflect its principles of community and harmony by activities of education and service to the local area.

Hence the establishment of a Registered Charity for the advancement of education in horticulture and conservation. I now have students coming for private free residential study placements from all over Europe and elsewhere additional to placements for British students. The  potential of education and of enriching the next generation is important .

I am sometimes  asked  if my garden is finished-  I reply "NO!" I  take the view  that if you think you have fnished your garden, then you are ready to die! I am firmly of the mind that there should always be more to do, new adventures, challenges. I believe Lord Lansdowne (a keen and expert gardener himself) was bang-on when he said to me: "One should always have a project!" And that is a principle to which I try to adhere.  To wake up each morning with excitement as to what one can achieve with a whole new day.

And whilst one's overall vision, philosophy and theme of the garden may be set for a life's purpose or dream the individual elements or sections therein should not be carved in stone. Don't box yourself in: be prepared to experiment, to re-arrange, or even start again. Give scope to your sense of curiosity and adventure.

And the future? To keep gardening, writing and creating 'til my very last hour of life. And to be assured perhaps that the garden I have created can live on after me for others to enjoy and learn from.

The Trust has no income other than donations. The garden is not open publicly, is entirely private and run for educational and community charitable purposes. Neither is it commercial or business oriented. The garden and the house are a private residential property. But it is possible to book private group visits. Additionally there are a range of educational opportunities and also local community projects. It is especially important to give young people opportunities for learning, teamanship, public service and helping others.  

I believe that if one is lucky enough to do, learn, create, or achieve something then it is only fully realised if it also enriches others, especially one's local community. And that that no matter how great or humble our station in life we all have the capacity -and indeed the duty- of 'noblesse oblige'."


Ego partum Arcadia


Contact: stephencox.gardentrust@gmail.com

(Note: only enquiries dealing with the garden or its projects are accepted)


I would like to express my thanks to Lord and Lady Lansdowne (and the Bowood Estate) who have been so encouraging of my efforts and kind in their comments. Also to Sarah Goodall at the Estate Office who has been most supportive and encouraging.

And to my Trustees (and my Council of Advisers). And credit to my students and volunteers (past and present) many of whom have become friends.

A special note of note of thanks goes to my Trustee and friend Simon Kerstan and his family who have been so kind and supportive. And to „Ingenieur-und Planungsbüro LANGE Gbr“ of Germany for supporting some of our educational programmes and other projects.

Garden World: film by Vito Spiekermann

A film about the garden of Stephen Cox and his philosophy of life and horticulture and the education charity he has created.
Made by Vito Spiekermann from Berlin, a student volunteer at the Trust for 3 months in 2019.


1. THE PUBLIC GOODThe Trust is a Registered Charity (nr.1174239) for the advancement of education in horticulture and conservation. 

It fufills these goals in a number of ways including but not restricted to: 

● Training/skill enhancement for young unemployed.

● Weekly sessions for adults with learning difficulties via Wiltshire Council under supervision.

● Projects/information for local  conservation and wildlife, and publishing articles.

● Library access for scholars & researchers.

●Relaxation visits for residents (with their professional carers) of nursing & retirement homes.

●Residential  placements for European students  for 2 to 6 weeks to interact with the local community, learn skills, enhance international friendship, and improve their understanding of Britain.

● Making our extensive library  available to students.

2. PRIVATE GROUP VISITS by prior appointment: (June/July) day-times or evenings. Tea and biscuits. Personalised introduction. Garden map.

School and College groups are also welcome. Or projects by College or University Departments.

For full details please go to Bookings page



NOTE:  All programmes/courses take place at different times/ days and do not overlap or mix in any way.

3. STUDY PLACEMENTS (Free) Enable persons age 18-28 to get work experience/gain skills in :







Separate programmes have been created for each of the above. Day or half day weekly,  or part time.

Tuition is given. No previous experience required. Tools & gloves & refreshments provided.


 (Free) These are residential placements for individuals age 18-27. Via the "Workaway" international friendship & volunteering network. They stay for 2 to 6 weeks studying and helping out and connecting with the local community. We have had many volunteers from : Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy,  USA, South Korea.The scheme has proved popular with students across Europe and with the local community. We have  students from the E.U. booked until 31st. March 2020.

5. GERMAN SCHOOL LINK: This year (2019) sees the first association with a School in Europe. We  have a student from a school in Berlin for 10 weeks. We look forward to links with other schools in Germany.

6. UNEMPLOYED FACILITIES: (Free) Special programmes for age 18-28 offers: learning skills; cv improving; interview techniques; confidence building; general education.

The atmosphere is non-formal and supportive. No previous experience or qualifications are required.

To apply for any of these opportunities simply send brief details of yourself to:


(NB: Only enquiries directly about the work of the Trust are accepted)

EXPLORE: Further information about my free educational opportunities and how to apply by clicking clicking here >>>>Studies


7. ADULTS WITH LEARNING DIFFICULTIES: (Free)  In association with Wiltshire County Council, tye trust is prepared to provide voluntary learning placements (umder supervision) to gain skills and build their confidence. 

Young Offenders: the Trust has previously provided placements under statutory supervision.         ______________________

8. WORKSHOPS on wildlife, conservation, environmental studies, habitats, and other subjects will be held at various times throughout the summer months.           _____________________

9. COMMUNITY PROJECTS : A variety of communuty projects. For example:

Wildlife audits;    Talks on  wildlife, gardening, conservation, and environment;    Open days for local villages;    Walks;       Wildlife trails;     Butterfly Watch;   Birdwatch;     Meditation;     Garden spirituality;     Art classes; Local environmental studies;     Apiary;    Garden sacred spaces.

10. ELDERLY SUPERVISED VISITS: (Free) We welcome group visits to the garden by small groups, with their carers, from retirement homes. 


VOLUNTEERS to help  in any aspect of the garden. No expertise or experience required. Tools and refreshments provided. 

Volunteering is also a C.V., improvement tool: many employers look for such experience in prospective employees. It is also a good way to broaden one's life horizons and develop new skills.

EXPLORE: For further information about my Workshops, and Community Projects;  and also my Society of Friends please click here >>>Community Projects

THE GARDEN OF ROOMS: short guide

The garden has been painstakingly landscaped from a small field, wherein there was nothing except grass and two large conifer trees. For a former artist like me it was verily a blank canvas! It is on the Bowood Estate, and the entry drive to Bowood House & Gardens is less than 200 yards away. 

Conversion to my garden of delights and spiritual reflection commenced when I moved here in 2012. It has been an intense labour of love 7 days a week in all seasons and weathers. One might describe the garden as a series of small rooms area each with a different theme (e.g. Grasses, Conifers, Cottage garden, Pond, Coastal, Alpines, Wetland, Urns Garden, Herbarium, Begonias, Dianthus, Ferns, Fuchsias, Heathers, Roses, Exotics, Vegetables, Acers, etc) each being linked and divided with sections of lawn, large wooden pergola archways, patios,  low walls, and brick stepping stones and slate paths.

Some areas are formal others informal. The eye is led from area to area like a journey to hidden vistas. On one of his several private visits Lord Lansdowne called it "an exciting space".

A place where I hope your imagination and love of gardening and nature can be recharged helped along with the sound of water, statues of griffins, cats, sphinxes, lions and Greek gods.

Planting has been chosen to help and encourage butterflies, birds and bees. On average 25 species of butterfly visit each year. A variety of visiting and resident wildlife include: frogs, newts, dragonflies, moles, badger, mice, voles, shrews, bats, rabbits, and a wide range of bird species. Overhead can also be seen red kite, and buzzards. Throughout the summer swallows dart low over the garden and engage in acrobatics above it.

Special features are the thirteen free-standing stone fountains; a Buddha meditation quad; a bridge; large fish pond; wetland; beach; waterfalls; life size stone statues of deities, mythological creatures, cats and lions; large summerhouse (a teaching room also housing our library), and over 17 separate seating areas (including 6 covered arbour benches). There is seating for at least 56 people.

Throughout the garden are 30 specially commissioned slate plaques of verses/wisdom words to reflect on garden and life -some humorous and some philosophic and spiritual.

The garden is also used for:  educational workshops and student training placements; young unemployed people looking to learn skills and improve their career prospects.



EXPLORE: For more detailed information about the Garden and a guide please click here >>>>

Full Garden Guide


Private Group Bookings

(The garden is run for charitable and educational purposes. All income is specifically used to support the Trust and enable it and its work to continue. Neither Stephen Cox nor the Trustees or Volunteers etc receive any payment for the work they do)

Groups and organizations can book a private visit & conducted tour of the garden by prior appointment. You will be personally shown around by Stephen Ben Cox and given an introductory talk on entry. Garden maps/guides are loaned to help your way around.

There are no toilet facilities. Children must be accompanied at all times. Regrettably no dogs (we have cats). The garden is difficult for wheelchair access. But there are lots of places to sit and rest. Dates available: TO BE ANNOUNCED. Please see the 'Bookings & Links' page.



If finance/support is forthcoming events and lectures will be arranged from time to time. The subjects will include:

Conservation; History; Landscape; Heritage; Well-Being; Sprituality; Art.


View of lower half of garden looking from the Rose Walk towards the Pond, Wetland, Summerhouse, etc


Sponsors & CreditsWe gratefully acknowledge the sponorship, donations, support of the following componanies, and bodies.

go to: Sponsors page



Calne Without Parish Council

Grant award for new garden benches 2018 from Sun-Edison Community Fund

Whetman Pinks

Ice Alpines

Pepperpot Herb Nursery


(i) Background

Stephen Cox created his garden born of his love for nature, the landscape and his concept of connectivity and balance and renewal in all things. This applies especially to Nature and the landscape and the way we treat it. It also applies to our need to change our ways as a species to cherish the planet and the ecosystem and better harmonise with Gaia. His garden strives to be a place of repose and a sanctuary for learning. This has so far resulted in many educational opportunities . And an international element: students so far have come from Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, U.S.A. and South Korea for residential study placements. A core principle of the philosophy of Stephen Cox when he created the Trust gardens from a small field, is that of his interpretation of 'Arcadia': the principle of humanity at peace with and in harmony with the landscape and Nature. To further develop this principle and at the same time continue the charitable objectives of the Trust (to advance education in horticulture and conservation) he proposes a dynamic and international opportunity to address some urgent issues. He invites educationists, specialists & scientists, innovators, companies and public bodies and especially students to contact him to discuss possibilities and to consider: a Proposal.

(ii)  Introductory Statement

The achievements so far and the essence of the philosophy on which it is based (his version of Arcadia) and the urgent issues which are being addressed and needs to be further addressed and researched prompts the idea of the value of a modest research and visitor educational centre which can act as an hub for bring minds together in a neutral environment. Ongoing research in the fields indicated below would possibly benefit from some form of cross fertilisation and amicable contact to learn from each other, share ideas, find areas of collaboration, provide a peaceful and neutral environment for research and investigation., And additionally offer a facility for international friendship where variety is cherished and harmony engendered. It would in no way impinge on the projects or research of other individuals or companies or institutions, or work of our partners, or of individual researchers, or projects and courses of universities etc. Since it does not seek to be a specialist organisation or an alternative to the work being done in various areas. It would act as an add-on, a facility, a pod of reflection which can be accessed by a variety of institutions, companies, researchers etc.

(iii) The Proposal:

Bearing in mind the background above and what has been created so far: namely a unique fully functioning (albeit small 1/3acre) educational garden which receives visitors and a library and a Registered Charity (#1174239), it is worthwhile to briefly consider The Proposal. Which is: To greatly extend the Charity as it stands to establish an educational centre with its own building and gardens (which will feature aspects relevant to the core subjects of the centre). Some suggested areas of concern which it is felt would benefit from some cross-fertilisation and mutual understanding would be a facility for work, study, research, symposia including:

Renewable Energy; Landscape Architecture; Environment & Energy; Conservation; Wildlife; Horticulture; Ecology; Traditions/development; Past innovations; Land & Society so far

He invites educationists, specialists & scientists, innovators, companies and public bodies and especially students to contact him to discuss possibilities and to consider: 

The Proposal

About Stephen Ben Cox

Stephen Ben Cox was born and brought up in rural Gloucestershire and took his 4-years honours degree in fine art with art and architecture history at University. After teaching at a leading British public school he then became a  British Council post-graduate Scholar and researched for a year in Romania (this was during the Communist dictatorship under Nicolae Çeauşescu). On return to the UK he taught in secondary schools  then took his Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE: state teaching qualification) at University and then was the production manager for a small independent British film.

He has been a teacher in the state and private education secondary sectors and in further education in Bristol, Bracknell, Reading, and Slough. For several years he was an interior designer/ decorator/restorer. (working mainly on Victorian and Georgian houses in the University area of Reading but also in London, Henley-on-Thames,, Devon, Hampshire, Berkshire, and Shropshire). He also designed and ran conversion projects of various buildings.

He was also a professional artist (painter and sculptor) creating sculpture, installations, reliefs, large and medium size paintings with mixed media,  and also watercolour miniatures. For several years he was very happily working from a large studio in a rural location, often working a 12+ hour/7 day week. This also entailed extensive travel exhibiting his art in many one-man exhibitions all over England, Wales and Scotland for 25 years, sometimes with a small team of assistants. Additionally he took on apprentices; and also organised a scheme to arrange for artists to visit schools. He delivered several lectures about his art.

Over the years he has written extensively in the fields of history, heritage, ancient religions, prehistoric & ancient sites, folklore, mythology, customs, traditions etc. This includes several small books and over 600 articles. He currently writes a monthly article for his local parish magazine (local history alternating with local wildlife). And is writing a website on North Wiltshire history.

In the field of international education he devised and ran: distance learning courses; heritage lectures;  residential programmes for students from all over Europe; cultural tours; ancient sites visits; as well as many group student heritage adventure expeditions to Dartmoor. He also taught English as a Foreign Language with various companies  for several summers,  and one year was a director managing 3 centres. In 2002 and 2003 he undertook lecture tours to the Netherlands and Belgium talking about his approach to philosophy and spirituality and also about Dartmoor. Also a film was made about a 1 week Dutch group course he ran on Dartmoor.

He is a member of ALCS (the Authors Licensing & Copyright Society) and of DACS (the Design & Artists Copyright Society). He was a director/member of the Board of Management of the latter regularly attending its meetings in London. He also briefly ran its news and presented DACS findings/proposals to the Parliamentary cultural reps of all 3 main parties for the Copyright Act.

Currently he founded and runs the local Neighbourhood Watch; was a Police Custody Visitor; runs Studley & Derry Hill Wildlife Group; & Derry Hill & Studley Conservation Group. He wrote the initial outline environmental policies for the local Neighbourhood Plan then put together a working group which produced the researched submissions.

And he offers private tours of his garden as well as wildlife studies and gardening education. He is also available to give lectures on: history;  heritage; spirituality. He can be consulted privately on: garden landscape design; and also how to make sacred spaces.

He is very keen to work with and support local causes such as the Parish Magazine, Building Bridges, Wiltshire Young Offenders Unit, Wilts Volunteer Connect amongst others. He strongly believes in the power of Nature and gardening to improve society, enrich human experience, strengthen spirituality, turn lives around and aid the healing process.

He is a life-time member of the Woodland Trust; the RSPCA, the Ramblers Association, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

His love of landscape, wildlife and gardening began as a child in the hills and valleys of his native village. A series of memoirs of life in 1950's rural Gloucestershire is being written. He is in the final stages of writing a major book on life coaching/self-help: "The Keys of Life".


The garden is private and is not open to the public on a daily basis. The Trust and the Garden is not a business or commercial enterprise and is strictly not-for-profit. It is a private educational Trust serving charitable objectives for the public good as defined by Charity Law in England and Wales. However in the interest of education and public benefit and to help enable others appreciate its work Stephen Ben Cox invites schools/gardening clubs/w.i's and other groups to arrange a private tour of his garden by prior appointment (the private visits season 2019 is: 14 May to 01 August). The Trust (registered charity number: 1174239) is unfunded except for donations. All income is used entirely to support the work and goals of the Trust. Stephen Ben Cox, the Trustees and Volunteers work unpaid. The Trust is seeking business sponsors to support the goals and activities of the Trust. Individual donations are also gratefully received .


Any opportunity, event,  facility or activity listed is philanthropic and offered in a private capacity in a spirit of good will for the benefit and enrichment of society.


No project or activity or anything published on this website grants any rights or assumptions of private access, or any other rights to either property or possession thereon or therein.

All visitors, volunteers, students, etc assume full personal responsibility for any accident/injury/ damage/loss to themselves or their possessions. Any visitor/volunteer/student etc visits/partakes of their own volition and at their own risk. No claims will be accepted.  Visitors should take note with regards to such things as: uneven ground, spiky/thorny plants, deep water, loose  rocks & walling, slippery paving etc

Students and volunteers must accept all our guides/terms produced for their well-being, health and safety.