Sunday 9 June 2019

Hidcote Garden

A visit to Hidcote garden on a warm, sunny day is a real treat - Hidcote is at its best in the spring when the whole place is a riot of colour. 

Hidcote is an Arts and Craft garden, the product of a socialist ideology which began in the late 19th century, as an antidote to the advancing technology and materialism of Victorian society and which promoted a more traditional focus on the craftsperson and artist. Arts and Crafts Gardens were seen as an extension of the house where architectural elements of the building were echoed in the garden, creating a series of formal 'outside rooms' that were viewed from the house. Beyond these 'outside rooms'  the garden gave way to the landscape - rock gardens led to woodland glades and wild areas with rustic paths and water gardens.

An Arts and Crafts garden has the following characteristics: enclosures that provide small intimate spaces, anticipating surprises around the corner; the use of traditional materials, such as stone and oak, used in an imaginative way to construct walls and steps; ornamental structures such as gazebos, formal pools, fountains, sundials; carefully considered plant choice where plants are given freedom to grow within borders, culminating in the famous over-flowing look of an English garden, with carefully considered colours; yew hedges are favoured creating a dense backdrop and because yew accommodates topiary.

Lawrence Johnston incorporated all of the above in the creation of Hidcote.

We started our walk with the series of 'outside rooms' that surround the house

and which include mature trees

each 'room' is surrounded by hedges with narrow gaps that give way to the next 'room' or to the thatched cottage in this photograph

the planting is dense and carefully planned

view of the house

a clearing

iris dominates at this time of year

and so we moved on from room to room

and arrived in the area dominated by the fountain

washing up liquid? Probably

some of the planting is very carefully planned

while in other areas nature has been allowed to run its course

The gardens were very busy and we felt the need to move away from people so we took a path that would lead to what Johnston called the 'wilderness'

which leads to an open area that affords great views of the Cotswold countryside

these gates led us up back to the formal gardens

along this long vista with one of the gazebos at the end

the rhododendrons in full blossom

and interesting planting on the ground

it's such a pleasure wandering around here

lots of poppies, but unfortunately, the Himalayan blue poppy which was one of the reasons I wanted to visit at this time of year, had not flowered yet

a small stream runs through the garden

back to the long vista

but we got sidetracked by this series of gaps in the hedge

a series of topiary that forms paths

this is a slow walk allowing for frequent stops to admire the planting

We came to a clearing where a lot of people had chosen to picnic

this little boy spent a long time trying to entice the sheep to come closer

Two rows of trees that just invite you to walk under their shade

and then we got to the first gazebo which was built by Lawrence Johnston in 1915

and then the second one, facing the first. The placement of the two gazebos adds to the structure and design of the two central vistas in the garden.

We then moved on to the second vista

which leads on to the woods.


Small, but perfectly formed

a cool oasis after the heat in the gardens

we wandered here for a while

left the woods

and made our way to the green house

and the lily pond which was covered with chicken wire in an attempt to protect the newts from the ducks.

More iris here

We took the path that leads to the orchard

stopped to admire more iris

such inspired planting

two wisteria trees at the end of the path

and then we entered the orchard

moved on to the tool shed

a thatched cottage

and we had come full circle back to the house

a lilac bush

and the handkerchief tree which I remembered from our last visit

and then it was time to head back home.


  1. Hidcote is a wondrous place indeed. My husband once declared it to be his favourite garden. I always think about how many hours of work it must take to maintain such an effortless-seeming result!
    I am sorry that you missed the blue Meconopsis.

    1. I think I agree with your husband, Olga. It's so wonderful being there, and as you say, so many hours and hours of work.... I am also awed by the knowledge and skill and vision that is required to create such a garden.

      Aha! I now know the name for the blue Meconopsis! It's the only garden I have ever seen one, and I was really looking forward to it. Never mind, next year.

      Still have not visited the garden near Oxford that you wrote about a while ago - it will have to wait until the autumn now but I am looking forward to it.

    2. You will have to plan a visit to the Scottish Borders next June - to Dawyick Botanic Garden.
      Meconopsis love the conditions in Scotland, and the Scottish Borders are not too far to go.

    3. Dawyick looks wonderful, Olga, so there's another addition to my list. Thank you.