Friday, 23 September 2016

Gardens to visit - Hidcote Manor - Great English Garden

Hidcote is renowned as a great English garden, but provides fine examples of not only traditional cottage garden and formal styles, but also  woodland and Mediterranean gardens. It blends a range of styles into a coherent whole and fits beautifully into its surroundings, yet occasionally transports you into another place entirely, using abundant planting and clever theming of individual enclosed garden rooms.

The Pillar Garden at Hidcote 
The various axis of pathways and lawns cross each other at various points, meaning that you regularly change direction as you walk round, and each change of direction brings a slight change in garden style. This doesn't seem too incongruous when making a right angled turn, or passing through a gap in a hedge or a gateway, and so the change in style is made to feel appropriate, without causing you to judder at too drastic a transformation between rooms. Yet the progressive effect is that you experience a wide array of gardening styles on your journey.
The White Garden at Hidcote
It is only a subtle change from the absolute formality of the Pillar Garden with its towering, geometric yews, to the White Garden with its light hearted topiary and planting in a relaxed style within the borders but using a strictly limited colour palette. Not far away are the long double borders (top picture), with a straight and symmetrical structure but abundant, colourful, blousy planting spilling over (by just the right amount) on to the lawn and paths.  
At the end of the borders you head out through naturalistic yet controlled woodland planting,  to wander free through more open woodland and grass, drawn towards the boundaries of the property by the enticing glimpse through open gates of the surrounding views. Returning nearer the house there are avenues of trees and a fine vegetable garden to enjoy. There is a real sense of it being the private garden of a single individual (which it was) and the reflection of their personal passion for, and enjoyment of, their garden. Features like the boules area shaded by pleached limes, the Bathing Pool and the two gazebos, all give the impression of a garden that was lived in and used by its owner (which it was). 
The Plant House Border at Hidcote
At this time of year one of the most colourful areas was the Mediterranean sun trap of a courtyard that is known as Mrs Winthrop's Garden. This was lovely and warm for an autumn day, and smothered in bright yellow and blue flowers throughout. Also in full bloom was the bed of exotics in front of the Plant House, full of hot yellows, reds and oranges in the shape of Kniphofia, Salvia and Rudbeckia.  Both are fine examples of how to plant for late season colour.   

Red Borders at Hidcote
There's something for everyone here, whether you prefer formal or informal, mown lawns or shady woodland, roses or alpines, open spaces or grand vistas. The evergreen structure not only provides the transition between areas, but also leaves plenty of beauty in the winter when perennials die down. There were notable colour combinations on show, in both pastels and hot colours. Whether you are looking to learn or just enjoy a day out, Hidcote is well worth a visit.

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