"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Hidcote Gardens

On the final day of B and E's trip to the Isle of Man I took myself off to Hidcote. I've visited Hidcote twice before many years ago when D and E were younger and fell in love with the gardens especially the idea of "garden rooms" and the huge amount of perennials there. We went in August so the famous "red" borders were at their best. I've wanted to return for years and really should have visited again before now as it is only one to one and a quarter hours from home. It was very busy there but I would imagine these world famous gardens always are.

The gardens cover 10.5 acres (4 hectares) and follow the "Arts and Craft" principle consisting of formal garden "rooms" near the house and a more naturalistic style further away. They were created by Major Lawrence Waterbury Johnston (1871-1958) who was an American who had taken British citizenship. He enjoyed hosting garden parties there where tennis, badminton and squash were played. He made friends with many gardeners of the era who thought along the same lines as he did and he was also a plant hunter who collected rare and exotic species for his garden. He introduced over seventy plants into cultivation for example Hypericum "Hidcote", Lavendula "Hidcote" and Verbena "Lawrence Johnston" which are still grown today.

In 1907 he bought Hidcote and lived there with his mother Gertrude Winthrop. He began to redesign the gardens working in phases first creating the garden "rooms" near the house in Arts and Craft style. Following service in the First World War he returned to Hidcote in 1919. His mother had bought additional land enabling him to extend the gardens. By the 1920's and 1930's the garden was complete and Johnston started to stock it with plants many of which he had collected himself.

Johnston's horticultural "bible" was "The Art and Craft of Garden Making" by Thomas H Mawson who followed the Arts and Craft style. Johnston also drew influences from many other plantsmen and garden designers of the period.

The gardens were even more beautiful than I remembered and so there are quite a lot of photos in this post! although not too many words. I have mentioned the name of various parts of the garden where known which I hope are correct but there again I did go back and forth a lot and returned to areas which may somewhat have confused the issue!! Sadly, I didn't have a huge amount of time as I had to get home for family chauffeuring so there were some areas I did not have time to explore such as the Wilderness, the Great Lawn, the Alpine Terrace, The Beech allee, Limes Arbour, Long Walk and the Central and Lower Stream Gardens.

East Court Garden

The Series of garden "rooms" close to the house were my favourite area

The Maple Garden

I didn't get names of all the gardens I visited in this area but they included The Green Circle, The Poppy Garden and the White Garden

The Fuschia Garden

The Cosmos flowers here will look lovely when in full bloom

The Bathing Pool

Mrs Winthrop's Garden? - there are that many garden "rooms" it is easy to get confused!

The Upper Stream Garden

Great Lawn

Pillar Garden with clipped yew pillars

Rock Bank

I've seen these flowers in other National Trust gardens and they always attract bees and hoverflies. I looked in the plant centre before leaving but unfortunately couldn't find any to buy.

A viewpoint over the Gloucestershire countryside.

Stilt Garden with its pleached hornbeams.

The Red Borders - this part of the garden was cordoned off - it will look stunning in a few weeks.

Gazebos - sorry the second photo only shows part of the gazebo - there were too many people round this area to get a photo of the whole building.

The Lilac Garden

The Kitchen Garden

The Plant House - again heaving with people so I couldn't get a photo showing the whole of the interior

Lily Pond

The Long Borders (again a lot of people so I only managed one photo of the whole borders)

The Orchards

And finally back at the manor house

I visited the shop and then had a cup of tea and a blackcurrant flapjack in the tearoom. Note the scones to take home!!

A quick wander round the plant centre and I did buy one of these Hidcote Lavenders.

I certainly plan to return more regularly as these gardens would look gorgeous whichever time of year you visited. A few hundred yards from Hidcote are the Kiftsgate Gardens which also look worth a visit.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera

Reference - NT Guide Book to Hidcote