Monday, March 7, 2016

_____________ GARDEN TREASURES (3) - HIDCOTE MANOR _____________

Hidcote Manor Garden is one of the best-known and most influential Arts and Crafts gardens in England.

Hidcote Manor lies in the north Cotswolds at the village of Hidcote Bartrim, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, a stone’s throw from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Created by the talented American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston its colourful and intricately designed outdoor linked ‘rooms’ of hedges, rare trees, shrubs and herbaceous borders are always full of surprises. It is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.

Exploring the maze of narrow paved pathways you discover secret gardens, magnificent vistas and plants that burst with colour. Many of the plants found growing in the garden were collected from Johnston’s many plant hunting trips to far away places. It’s the perfect place if you’re in need of gardening inspiration.

With this garden being the first garden I have ever visited with any sort of concentrated awareness and singularity of purpose I was entranced by the idea of different 'rooms' often containing different themes of planting and colour.

I have always associated a red brick garden wall providing shelter and a backdrop to planting as being a major feature of an English Cottage Garden. At Hidcote and other large English gardens, a high wall is used to create 'rooms'.

All this water feature needs is a few North Island NZ Snapper or Orange Roughy fish to add a bit of interest, surprise and variety to the garden. When I suggested this to other members of the party the universal agreement was, "Yeah, right" delivered with that distinctive sardonic drawl.

Christine underneath the arches. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience and has put the knowledge gained to good use in our own garden.

Every 'room' contained a surprise of flowers and / or architecturally pruned trees and shrubs.

I loved the poppy garden. It was resplendent with yellow flowers that shone like little suns.

Long verdant grass avenues pulled your eyes towards yet another entrance to another garden room.

I liked the large plantings of broad leafed plants of varying textures and shapes.

Large mature trees provided a kind of cradling complement to the gardens, folding everything within their shade and limbs. These gardens were about intimacy and containment rather than a 'Big Skies Montana' experience.

This beautiful adjacent woodland area alive with dappled light provided a harmonious counterpoint to the large expanse of gardens.

I remember Hidcote with some affection because it was my introduction to appreciating gardens and it was one of the best comparatively speaking. As the Tour progressed we were introduced to many other types of gardens but the quintessential English garden remains my favourite.

The small classic English Cottage Garden is really Hidcote (and many others) 'writ very small' and is something achievable by the amateur gardener working on a small scale in their own back yard.

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