Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Hidcote Manor Garden I

The first public garden that we visited during our vacation in England in June this year was Hidcote Manor Garden, located in Hidcote Bartrim, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire.

Hidcote is a world famous and very influential 20th-century country garden, known for its extraordinary design and plantings. The garden covers 10 1/2 acres (4 hectares) and is designed in the Arts and Crafts style by the American anglophile Lawrence Johnston (1871 - 1958). It is divided into formal garden "rooms" close to the manor, each with its own character and planting scheme, and spreads out into a more naturalistic planting style the further you come away from the house, that blends with the surrounding beautiful landscape of the Cotswolds. Hidcote is under the custodianship of the National Trust since 1948 and is one of its most visited gardens.

Given the reputation and description of Hidcote, understandably my expectations were quite high, when we arrived and I couldn't wait to finally explore the garden myself. The photo above is taken from the The Circle looking back to the manor house showcasing the magnificent, attention commanding old cedar tree and part of the Old Garden.

But let's start with the beginning of our garden visit. The entrance of Hidcote is quite nondescript and if you didn't know better, you wouldn't guess that you are about to visit one of the world known English country gardens.

Once you are through the entrance gate you are finding yourself standing in this courtyard. I like how the huge climbing plants are softening and embellishing the buildings. You enter the garden through the door that both signs are pointing to. We were one of the very first visitors there that day, but after we had renewed our membership with the National Trust and were ready to enter the actual garden, unfortunately already coach loads of tourists had arrived and flocked into the garden.

You can't visit the manor house itself, only two rooms are open to the public that you have to cross through to get into the garden. Loved the build in bookcases.

I tried to imagine that Lawrence Johnston has been standing here looking out into his garden already plotting the next garden room that he was about to develop.

Johnston transformed this former stone barn into his personal chapel.

I don't know anymore in which part of the garden this white flowering shrub was located except that it was relatively close to the house, nor what its name is, but I think it is quite beautiful.

Looking back at the manor house from the Old Garden. I was surprised that in June so many alliums were still in bloom. They always look great when planted in masses. 

In this part of the garden the color scheme was rather traditional, with different shades of lavender and pink blooms at the time of our visit. I think these colors go rather well with the house and are soothing and pleasing to the eye. To me this area looks like the quintessential English country garden.

I did love the old cedar tree,...

...but wasn't so keen on the gaps in the borders where lots of bare soil was to be seen. Maybe the cold and wet spring this year in England had taken its toll?

This extraordinarily beautiful shrub caught my eye. Could it be a type of mallow?

Here are two close-ups of the flowers.

Aren't they pretty?

A long tunnel constructed out of beech, I believe.

One of the parts of the garden that impressed me the most were The Red Borders. I think they are truly a masterpiece. At the time when we were vising there weren't many red flowering plants in bloom, but the combinations of green, dark red, burgundy and purple foliage were exquisite.

Zooming in at the green and burgundy (Beech?) hedge. A lush foliage feast for the eyes.

Beautiful combination of bright green ferns, purple-leaved smoke bush, gunnera, cannas and bronze colored cordylines.

People, who read my blog regularly probably know by now, that if there is one color that I don't like, it is red. But I was so fascinated by these borders, they truly changed my mind. My biggest takeaway from Hidcote is that there is no color per se that I dislike. It all depends on the color combinations and surrounding plants, then any color can be totally stunning.

The Red Borders seen from the other side. Unfortunately there were boundaries made out of pliable wood branches that prevented you from strolling over the grass path through the Red Borders to admire the plants up close. Such a pity! But they probably tried to preserve the lawn.

I have read that there are red flowering roses and dahlias and orange-red daylilies planted in these borders. Imagine the vibrancy that these blooms would add.

There are big patches of bare soil to be found in these borders, too. I am surprised by that, since one of the planting principles that Lawrence Johnston would follow is to "plant thickly".

Love the beautiful terracotta container with the cordyline planted in it.

One plant, that was in bloom, was this red beauty, which identity is unknown to me. I would love to find out what it is. So if you, dear readers, have any ideas about its name, please leave a comment.

The Red Borders were created by Lawrence Johnston between 1910 and 1914, and I wonder how original the planting scheme is that you see today in comparison to what Johnston may have used when he designed these borders.

In any case the color scheme and plant selection of these borders must have been mind-boggling at the time of their creation and probably have caused quite a stir. Even nowadays you can't help but be in awe of them and admire Johnston's braveness in garden design and his great plantsmanship. No wonder that Hidcote is considered to be one of the most influential gardens of its time.

I intend to write more entrees about our visit to Hidcote, so if you liked this one and are curious to see more of this great garden, please come back and pay my blog another visit until then:

See you in the garden!


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  1. I remember we had a lot of rain in June so as you say they were probably trying to protect the grass. Such a pity because it does look like a border worth exploring. I visited Hidcote many years ago. It was one of the gardens that really sparked my imagination, even before I had a garden of my own.

    1. Jessica, how lovely that Hidcote had such an inspiring effect on you! I wonder how many gardeners Lawrence Johnston has influenced and will be influencing in the future. Amazing what one determent and very passionate person can do and very encouraging!

  2. I envy you your visit, Christina. I was enamored with that cedar tree too - what a beautiful form it has. I can't identify the mallow-like plant but the red-flowered one may be a Cestrum, maybe C. elegans.

    1. Kris, wow, you are able to identify the red flowering plant? I am thoroughly impressed with your plant knowledge!
      Hope you get to visit England yourself in the future! It is such a beautiful country and I am pretty sure you would enjoy seeing all these great gardens!

  3. I agree with Kris, Cestrum elegans. The flower earlier in your post that you thought might be a Malva is a tree Peony, Peony suffruticosa.Needs winter chill--you need to move to Julian if you want to grow them ! Thanks so much for taking us to Hidcote. I dream of visiting in person some day.

    1. ks, another plantswoman here on the blog :-)! Thanks for confirming Kris' identity of the red flowering plant.
      Hmmm, Peony suffruticosa, maybe, I have to look up this plant. At Hidcote the bush was growing in quite a bit of shade and they grew the tree peonies in another corner, so it didn't even occur to me that it could be a tree peony, but judging about the flower and even the leaves you could be right. Thanks for helping to give the unknown plants in this post a name :-).

  4. Oh, gosh, I wish I would have had time to visit Hidcote when we were in the U.K. a few years ago. Everything there looks "yummy," but the stone barn and its plantings is my favorite spot from what you've shown. Sigh...

  5. Enjoyed the walk with you in Lawrence Johnston´s garden. We have been there 6 years ago in May and it´s nice to see your photos of a month later. The long border where you saw lots of gaps was at time full of flowering peonies. The shrub with the wonderful pink papery flowers of which you did not know the name is a tree peony, probably a late flowering one. First white flowering shrub is a Rhododendron variety, I saw this by enlarging of the photo on the foliage.
    I wonder if you also visited Kiftsgate Court, another wonderful garden, only 5 minutes from Hidcote. But.....England has so many, many great gardens, I could spend a lifetime over there only visiting gardens and teashops, haha.

  6. We really ought to visit this famous garden, and your photos have captured it well (looking forward to the next instalment!).

  7. Die roten Beete habe ich so noch nicht gesehen. Kommt sicher daher, dass wir meist im Frühling und Herbst unterwegs sind. Sehr spannend, einen Garten zu vielen Jahreszeiten zu sehen!


  8. Always love the look of old brick/stone building covered with climbing vines. The natural arbor tunnel is very unique. Planting thickly is beautiful to look at, myself trying that at home hasn't worked out to well. Colorful foliage is always a winner. Smoke bushes are new to me, we some locally and they do add a pretty look to the garden.

  9. Thank you Christine! I visited this Garden in May 2015. May and June... It's interesting to see what difference one month makes!

  10. Dear christina, I am thrilled to read you visited Hidcote this year. It is a lovely garden. I have visited the garden later in the season (August) the soil was completely covered by plants. In the red borders red dahlias were flowering. Maybe I post a blog about the garden. In winter? Groetjes Hetty

  11. The garden border had probably been newly cleared as they were most likely preparing it ready for their next planting scheme which they do throughout the season - the pink plant is a Peony Tree which appears to be Ezra Pound.

  12. Muy lindo jardín. La flor creo que es una peonia. Besitos.

  13. That's really interesting place! Thank you for sharing!

  14. Wow what a lovely garden you have been to. I always dreamed about having a garden of a large size but at the moment of dreaming I forget how much work it must be to keep a large garden in scape. And about the gaps I think you are right. We are always afraid for having heavy frost overhere in winter but I learned that a milder wet winter is more dangerous. I lost all my geranium's, campanula's and other perenials one's I had for many years in my garden. Gaps everywhere. Never mind time to buy something new.
    Have a wonderful sunday and I am looking forward to see your next blogpost.

  15. This is so very pretty!! I love the traditional English garden. What a beautiful example this is! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  16. This public garden is so nice, The color and the place.