Design, In the Garden


Hidcote: of Hedges and Vistas

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While I have been very enthusiastic about visiting many gardens, both here and in Europe as time permits, my list of “to see” seems to be getting longer and longer. A garden lover’s plight. With every issue of the English “Gardens Illustrated,” I add another name…or 2 or 3. But there are those classic must-sees that keep their top billing. Hidcote is one such garden, and deserving of its own exclusive post created from images taken in May.

Designed (coincidentally) by an American, Lawrence Johnston, Hidcote covers 10.5 acres and impeccably carries out the owner’s stated vision of “a wild garden in a formal setting (although what I saw did not fit my definiton of “wild”). Johnston, a passionate plantsman, designed in phases from 1907 to 1938 with newly discovered plants and exotic rarities he gathered during plant hunting expeditions around the world. His strong sense of design and “good eye” are deservedly responsible for Hidcote’s reputation as one of England’s most celebrated gardens. What made it special for me was the intimate formal areas that revealed a different atmosphere or new vista at every turn.

The pair of famous follies look down upon a bed of mixed red tulips, whose vista ends at the great cedar of Lebanon.

And in the other direction, pleached hornbeams comprise the Stilt Garden that ends at an elegant gate which provides a look out upon the Malvern Hills of the Cotswolds.

Given the number of hedges at Parterre, I was very admiring of the immaculate pruning of their miles of sculptured “walls.” And particularly the design concept of this “tapestry” hedge of green and copper beech encircling a small garden room.

Even the “Pillar Garden” uses vistas to create interest.

Another version of pillars lead your eye down the length of the herbaceous borders and beyond to the grand trees of the property.

In 1948, Hidcote was gifted to the National Trust which does a magnificent job of maintaining and honoring the design vision of its original owner.

Making plans to return to check off more English gardens next May…

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

3 thoughts on “Hidcote: of Hedges and Vistas

  1. What I recall so vividly of my visit is the color scheme. Purples, red, maroon, deep blues! So glad to see my memory hasn’t failed me! But I do see a flash of pink in one of your wonderful photographs!

  2. It’s interesting to note that the English call them “pleached limes” instead of hornbeam. Makes one think of citrus, but it’s not that sort of lime.

  3. Hello, Bettie, thank you so much for your beautiful photographs transporting me to Hidcote – hard to bring myself back to reality – the view from my office window at H&DE, beautiful as it is!! What is the purple blooming shrub at the sharp corner hedge?

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