Great British Gardens: Hidcote Manor Garden – A Hidden Garden of Eden in …

November 28, 2014 - garden totes


Hidcote Manor Garden was built in a early 20th century by a Anglo-American Lawrence Johnston. The garden is in The Cotswolds and is famous for a countless garden ‘rooms’, enclosed by clipped hedges and containing a far-reaching accumulation of both common and outlandish plants. The settlement had a clever change on garden settlement for a rest of that century.

The Story of Hidcote

We routinely assume that gardens are designed by professionals, landscape architects, master gardeners or in progressing times architects and artists. So when saying a gardens during Hidcote it can be a startle to learn that this ground-breaking garden was a work of a arrange amateur, and not even a loyal Englishman.


Lawrence Johnston circa 1927 in Mrs Winthrop’s garden with Frank Adams

Lawrence Waterbury Johnston was innate in Paris in 1871, a son of a rich Bostonian stock-broker, so he was technically an American, though after graduating from Trinity College during Cambridge University he became a naturalized British thesis in 1900 and as if to infer his patriotism, assimilated a British Army and served in South Africa in a Second Boer War.

Shortly after his troops use he assimilated his now re-married mother, Mrs Gertrude Winthrop, during a residence she bought in 1907, Hidcote Manor. This was a 300 hactare skill in The Cotswolds circuitously a encampment of Hidcote Bartram, that in spin was circuitously an expat village of American artists during Broadway, Worcestershire. John Singer Sargent was a many distinguished of them and they were assimilated by British composers and artists such as Edward Elgar, Vaughan Williams, J. M. Barrie and many significantly for Lawrence Johnston’s life, a good Arts and Crafts engineer William Morris.

Major Johnston, as he was now known, lived a really private life and was bashful to a indicate of being a recluse. An seductiveness in plants had been total by his bearing to a singular flora of South Africa during a Boer War and so he began to settlement and build gardens around a 17th century Manor residence during Hidcote. When they took possession there was no genuine garden during a Manor, usually a vast kitchen garden, lawns and shrubberies.

Johnston total a singular garden during Hidcote. Although a skill was large, a tangible gardens usually occupy 10 acres of it. Because there was no garden before, Johnston took a margin and started from scratch, an knowledge many pledge gardeners can brand with. He did not have a ancient hedges and vistas seen in many comparison English gardens and indeed a open, wind-swept inlet of his margin might have been his impulse to emanate not a grand estate though a array of companion rooms, many with sold themes and some so tiny as to opposition a smallest city garden today.

We will expected never know a influences on his design, given he was too bustling gardening to do many essay and too bashful to exaggerate of his achievements. We can usually see his mind by his work. He was substantially desirous by gardening books of a time and one that seems a really expected claimant was The Art and Craft of Garden Making by Thomas H. Mawson, a garden engineer of a time. Johnston did not however sinecure Mawson or for that matter his some-more famous associate professional, Edwin Lutyens, though he was shabby by a partnership of Lutyens and a equally famous Gertrude Jekyll. It was Jekyll in particular, with books like Colour in a Flower Garden, published in 1908, that seems to have strongly shabby his innovative growth of singular colour gardens.

Although he started a gardens shortly after relocating into a Manor, a First World War interrupted his gardening, given he was still in a Army. He fought in Flanders and when a fight finished returned to his garden. There never were fully-drawn adult skeleton and Johnston substantially worked directly on a ground. The gardens during Kiftsgate Court, owned by Heather Muir were really tighten and a dual became friends and exchanged gardening ideas. Edith Wharton, who also lived circuitously and was a partner of Italian gardens, might also have been an influence.

As a garden proceeded he hired a Head Gardener, Frank Adams, and they done an glorious group They visited a Chelsea Flower Show together, as was a character of a time, with owners and gardener consulting over what ideas to incorporate and what plants to buy. During a 1920’s he employed 12 full-time gardeners, that was not such a vast series as it might during initial seem, as vast numbers of domicile and gardening staff was standard of many British homes in this period.

He became generally meddlesome in singular plants and frequently visited a Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, Surrey. He collected alpine plants that were in practice during a time and grew hundreds in pots and a rock-garden. He also assimilated a famed plant gourmet George Forrest on a plant-collecting speed to Yunnan, China, and saved expeditions by other collectors.

One of a plants he collected in China, Mahonia siamensis, that was too proposal for Hidcote, is still flourishing in Johnston’s second garden, Jardin Serre de la Madone in a hills behind Menton, France. It was normal during a time for a better-off to winter in a South of France and Menton was a renouned finish for a British. Johnston owned this garden from 1924 to his genocide in 1958 and as a years went on spent some-more time there and reduction time during Hidcote. That garden too has been easy and can be visited.

In 1930 Country Life repository published dual articles on a garden and a few years after a famous engineer Russell Page done a radio expose on it. This increasing a a celebrity and a garden began to be open in a singular proceed to a open – or during slightest to invited visitors. In 1948 Johnston gave Hidcote to a National Trust and it was a initial garden owned by a Trust, who before that had been meddlesome usually in houses. For some years a garden was underneath a control of Graham Thomas, a National Trust’s garden consultant and himself a famous gardener and author. In new years a plantings have been easy as many as probable to Johnston’s strange intentions, that were some-more decorated and Edwardian that formerly recognized, with some-more use of pleasant plants and annuals for summer display.

The Garden


The Arts and Crafts transformation precious a Gothic and early Renaissance. In gardens, that meant elementary shapes, rectangles, squares and circles. Part of a talent of Hidcote is a proceed in that a blueprint is ‘formal’, with elementary geometry, though a spaces are filled with a cottage-style plenitude of plants. A identical proceed can be seen in many of a work of Gertrude Jekyll. In gripping with a Arts and Crafts tradition, all materials used in a garden are healthy – several forms of mill as paving and low walls, gravel, joist for structures and wrought-iron for gates.

Hedges rather than fences and walls are used to emanate a enclosures, and Johnston grown a tapestry hedge, regulating a accumulation of plants, rather than usually one, for some of his hedges. Others are done of a normal English hedging plant, yew.

The simple blueprint is a cross, with a shorter pivot using from a back of a Manor House and dominated by a vast open grass area – The Theatre Lawn, 400 feet prolonged surrounded by 7 feet Yew hedges. The cross-axis is shaped on one side by a 600 feet prolonged slight grass called a Long Walk, that is flanked by deciduous Hornbeam hedges. The pivot on a conflicting side is not distinguished and is simply a slight alley flanked by clipped beech trees. This is also a range of an area adjoining a residence containing work areas and a kitchen garden, as good as a Rose Garden. To possibly side of a Long Walk is a network of tiny gardens, any with a opposite thesis and enclosed by several hedges.


Some of a hedges are clipped as topiary, a many distinguished being a span of peacocks in a Fuchsia Garden, that is a block garden with an perplexing tangle settlement clipped in boxwood. Other themes are a White Garden, a Stilt Garden, with hedges lifted on purify trunks and a famous Red Borders, where Johnston total maybe a initial singular tone garden, a breakthrough allied to Gainsborough’s Blue Boy in art. Other reduction grave gardens follow a healthy tide using opposite a skill and embody a woodland areas around a core of a gardens. In all there are over 20 graphic tools to this masterpiece in a accent of space and a classification of color.


Hidcote has a good change in gardens that were to follow it. Most directly associated is substantially Sissinghurst, a garden total by Vita Sackville-West in a 1930’s. The ubiquitous judgment of sequence total by lines and hedges, total with spontaneous planting became a widespread thesis of British and to a obtuse extend North American garden settlement for many of a 20th century. The Room Outside, by John Brookes, arguably one of a many successful garden books of a final decades of a 20th century, was desirous by, and promoted, a small-scale chronicle of Johnston’s approach.

Johnston had an change on plants too and one of his plants, a comparison form of lavender called Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ is a dwarf English lavender still grown really widely today.

Further Reading

The Garden during Hidcote, by Fred Whitsey and Tony Lord (2011)

Hidcote: The Garden and Lawrence Johnston, by Graham S. Pearson (2009)

Hidcote a Making of a Garden, by E. Clarke (2009)

Hidcote Manor Garden, by A. Pavord (1993)

Hidcote Manor Garden: Hidcote Bartrim, by V. Sackville-West (1952)

There is a television documentaryHidcote: A Garden for all Seasons (2011) featuring a work of a stream conduct gardener, Glyn Jones, to expose some-more about a really private Major Johnston and his garden.

Practical Information

The residence of a Manor is Hidcote Bartrim, circuitously Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. The garden is tighten to Stratford-on-Avon and could be propitious in with a revisit there.

The gardens are open any day from May to a finish of September. They are usually open on Saturday and Sunday from Nov to a finish of February. In March, Apr and Oct they are open on some weekdays as good as weekends and we should deliberate a National Trust for accurate days in those durations and for tangible opening-hours any day, that change with a seasons.

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