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Hidcote Manor Garden (NT) | by Dave Catchpole
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Hidcote Manor Garden (NT)

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Hidcote - the most influential English garden of the 20th century - and Lawrence Johnston, the enigmatic genius behind it. Hidcote was the first garden ever taken on by the National Trust, who spent 3.5 million pounds in a major programme of restoration. This included researching Johnston's original vision, which in turn uncovered the compelling story of how Johnston created such an iconic garden.

 

Until recently, little was known about the secretive and self-taught Johnston. He kept few, if any, records on Hidcote's construction, but current head gardener Glyn Jones made it a personal mission to discover as much about the man as possible to reveal how, in the early 20th century, Johnston set about creating a garden that has inspired designers all over the world.

 

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Hidcote is an Arts and Crafts garden in the north Cotswolds, a stone’s throw from Stratford-upon-Avon. Created by the talented American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston its colourful and intricately designed outdoor ‘rooms’ are always full of surprises. It’s a must-see if you’re on holiday in the Cotswolds.

 

Explore the maze of narrow paved pathways and 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.

 

Find a quiet spot and sit on one of the ornate benches and watch green woodpeckers search for their lunch or listen to the calls from the buzzards circling overhead. Time it right and you might catch a glimpse of the elusive hummingbird moth.

 

Meander through the intricate gardens and into the Wilderness. This secluded stretch of tall trees is just right for a picnic. Take a glimpse beyond the boundary and see the garden blend effortlessly into the countryside beyond.

 

The Monarch’s Way path runs close-by. Follow it for a brief time from the car park and into the chocolate-box Cotswold hamlet of Hidcote Bartrim. You’ll be treated to traditionally thatched stone cottages that were once home to Johnston’s gardeners.

 

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Hidcote Manor Garden

 

Hidcote Manor Garden is a garden in Britain, located at Hidcote Bartrim village, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. It is one of the best-known and most influential Arts and Crafts gardens in Britain, with its linked "rooms" of hedges, rare trees, shrubs and herbaceous borders. Created by Lawrence Johnston, it is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.

 

History

 

The Americans, Lawrence Johnston and his mother, settled in Britain about 1900, and Lawrence immediately became a British citizen and fought in the British army during the Boer war. In 1907 Johnston's mother, Mrs Gertrude Winthrop (she had re-married), purchased the Hidcote Manor Estate. It was situated in a part of Britain with strong connections to the then-burgeoning Arts and Crafts movement and an Anglicized American artistic expatriate community centred nearby at Broadway, Worcestershire.

 

Johnston soon became interested in turning the fields around the house into a garden. By 1910 he had begun to lay out the key features of the garden, and by the 1920s he had twelve full-time gardeners working for him.

 

After World War II Johnston spent most of his time at Jardin Serre de la Madone, his garden in the south of France; and in 1947 he entrusted Hidcote to the National Trust.

 

Character of Hidcote garden

 

Lawrence Johnston was influenced in creating his garden at Hidcote by the work of Alfred Parsons and Gertrude Jekyll, who were designing gardens of hardy plants contained within sequences of outdoor "rooms". The theme was in the air: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson's Sissinghurst Castle Garden was laid out as a sequence of such spaces, without, it seems, direct connection with the reclusive and shy Major Johnston. Hidcote's outdoor "rooms" have various characters and themes, achieved by the use of box hedges, hornbeam and yew, and stone walls. These rooms, such as the 'White Garden' and 'Fuchsia Garden' are linked, some by vistas, and furnished with topiaries. Some have ponds and fountains, and all are planted with flowers in bedding schemes. They surround the 17th century manor house, and there are a number of outhouses and a kitchen garden.

 

Johnston's care in selecting the best plants is reflected in the narrow-leaved lavender, Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote', in the Penstemon 'Hidcote Pink' and in the hybrid Hypericum 'Hidcote Gold', acclaimed as the finest hardy St John's Wort, Alice Coats records.

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Taken on August 10, 2013