Today the 10 acre garden at Hidcote Manor in Gloucestershire is known throughout the world as one of the finest of all English country gardens.
Lawrence Johnston designed and built the garden in the early years of the 20th century.
He was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and Thomas Mawson. He also had some good advice from well established garden makers such as Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens… lucky chap.
Visitors enter the garden through the house where a door opens into the old garden under the stately Cedar of Lebanon. The mellow stone walls provide a perfect backdrop to the plants.
Close to the manor house the garden is quite formal in character and divided into small rooms or compartments. The walls of these rooms are formed by tightly clipped hedges. Each area has its own unique atmosphere created by beautiful old buildings surrounding it and collection of plants within.
The white garden is often featured in gardening books and rightly so. The design is simple with smooth stone paving, clipped box hedges, topiary birds and beds filled with beautiful white flowers. You can’t help but linger on the steps under the tree to take it all in.
Away from the house the garden becomes less structured… almost wild in places. This is exactly what Lawrence Johnston had in mind. From all accounts he wanted a wild garden tamed within a formal framework.
Since my last visit to Hidcote I have noticed that there are more wild areas than before. Wild flowers and grasses are allowed to grow tall in the orchard, there are wild flowers and foxgloves in the wood and a special area for bee hives is full of nectar rich plants.
Hidcote has undergone some serious restoration since 2002.
A generous cash injection from an anonymous donor has allowed the garden to be renovated in stages. The 12 full time gardeners and 35 volunteers have worked hard to improve Hidcote for the enjoyment of more than 150,000 visitors each year.
Hidcote is a popular garden all year round but it’s easy to find a quiet spot to take it all in. Most visitors stay quite close to the house and formal areas. For a bit of peace just head to the edges of the garden where you can see the naturalistic planting schemes and Cotswold landscape. There are plenty of volunteer guides who can point you in the right direction and answer your questions about the garden.
What I particularly love about Hidcote is the human scale of the gardens. Paths are narrow and everything seems straightforward and more to the point achievable. Yes there are rare and exotic plants but there are plenty of widely available undemanding plants at Hidcote. Where ever you look there are good ideas that can easily be transferred to your own garden at home.
Gallery of good ideas to try at home. Just click on the first image to open the gallery.
Hidcote has it’s critics but I love this garden… from the drive in through winding country lanes, through the pastel old gardens close to the house, to the exuberant hot borders, scented wild areas within the garden and views of the landscape beyond… everything about Hidcote is magical to me.
Top ten things to see at Hidcote
1) The White Garden
2) The Red Borders
3) The Orchard and Wild Flowers
4) The Stream and Bog Garden
5) The Old Garden & Heavens Gate
6) The Plant House & Lily Pool
7) The Stilt Garden & Ha Ha
8) The Bee Hives
9) Watch swallows sweep across the Theatre Lawn in summer
10) Buy a Hidcote Lavender plant from the plant centre
Gallery of my favourite areas of Hidcote Garden in June 2013:
I hope you enjoyed this review of Hidcote Garden.
This is only a fraction of the beautiful garden you will see if you visit.
Hidcote Manor Garden is currently looked after by the National Trust. There’s a restaurant, a book shop and a lovely plant centre.
For directions & opening times please see Hidcote on their website.
Thanks for reading this garden review on Garden Visitor.co.uk.
Comments are welcome from readers… I would love to know what you think:
- About the gardens I visit and feature here or
- About gardens that you have visited and can recommend.