Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hidcote Manor Garden Style: Lawrence Johnson's Masterful Gardens

Hidcote Manor Garden Photo © Copyright Neil Kennedy
When American expatriate, Lawrence Johnson created the garden at Hidcote Manor, Gloucestershire in 1907, he created a stir among the gardening elite. His care-free view of flowers, garden design and gardening in general took the romanticism of earlier periods to a new level.

Vita Sackville West's Views of Hidcote

According to Vita-Sackville West, a well-known English gardener and garden writer in the last century, Hidcote "did not seem a promising site" on which to make a garden." In her view, the property was shapeless, with no foundation hedges, trees or old walls for protection against the wind, and the soil was impossible to work. Vita took note of the amount of energy, creativity and optimism the garden took for it to become the famous and beautiful garden it became.

Gate at Hidcote  Photo © Copyright Carol Walker

Hidcote and Sissinghurst

There are many similarities between Lawrence Johnson's style of gardening to that of Vita Sackville-West's and her husband Harold Nicolson's garden at Sissinghurst. The major design features in both gardens are the series of garden rooms – walled or hedged enclosures that offer a sense of intimacy. Both garden designs considered the vistas, so that each path or alley through a lime walk or rose walk drew the eye to another garden view, a seat or a statue.

Hidcote was given formal hedges and gardens rooms within those enclosures, but the garden "rooms" within were less austere than the gardens of most of the grand manors in England at the time. Numerous flowers were added. Herbaceous borders were filled with color and they included flowering trees, shrubs, and roses. Lots of roses.

Romantic Garden Style

In more formal gardens of Britain, stray plants were pulled and climbing roses only climbed as high or wide as the head gardener allowed – the classical style always at odds with romanticism. A neat and tidy appearance was the order of the day. But Lawrence Johnson fought against those strict gardening ideals and let the garden dictate how it would evolve. This style of gardening had always been practiced in the lowly cottager's gardens, and was now showing itself in the gardens of the gentry, quickly becoming accepted as the new romantic garden style.

A garden "room" at Hidcote: Photo © Copyright David Stowell

Hidcote Manor and the National Trust

Hitcote Manor is now under the care of Britain's National Trust whose purpose is to care for and maintain the property and allow visitors to the sites under their protection. It is located in the heart of the Cotswolds. Visiting times and more details can be found at the National Trust's website.


    The Romantic Garden, Graham Rose, Penguin Books,1988
    The English Gardening School, Rosemary Alexander and Anthony du Gard Pasley, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987
    The Principles of Gardening, Hugh Johnson, Simon and Schuster, 1979
    Sissinghurst: Portrait of a Garden, Jane Brown, Harry N. Abrams,Inc., 1990

1 comment:

jess said...

I am a new follower and so happy to have found your blog, it's lovely! Of course, it is giving many, many ideas for the dream garden I'll have someday :)

La Quaintrelle

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