Hidcote Manor Garden is one of the most famous gardens in England, and it lies well hidden in the beautiful Gloucestershire just a few hours’ drive from London. The garden was created by Major Lawrence Johnston, who came from a wealthy American family.
When his mother, Gertrude Winthrop, bought Hidcote Manor in 1907, Lawrence Johnston moved in with her. There were only a few trees and very little garden around Hidcote Manor, but before long, the major began to transform the surrounding fields to garden.
Johnston was very interested in horticulture, but he was not trained as a gardener and had to resort to contemporary inspirational books. The combination of inspiration, ingenuity and a good portion of his mother’s money was all he needed. He planted hedges of yew, beech, holly and boxwood, and gradually they formed larger and smaller rooms, where the plants could be sheltered from the elements.
I have visited the garden at Hidcote Manor in different seasons, and one of the things I love the most is the variability. Every time you turn a corner or go through an opening in the hedge, there is something new to find; something new to admire. Some areas are wild, others have close-cropped shapes, and every garden space has something special to offer. I guess that this was exactly what the major wanted – to create surprises and impressions.