I am grateful to Barbara Taylor for giving me permission to reproduce this piece, which originally appeared on one of her blogs. Good to see pictures of a summer garden at Christmas (makes a change from holly) and hear a considered and clear eyed view of a major garden. Anne Wareham
by Barbara Taylor
‘One of the great Arts and Crafts gardens in England’
‘A series of outdoor ‘rooms’
These are just a few of the words used to describe the garden at Hidcote, in the Cotswolds. There is little point in me telling you all the background as you can find some of it here. Needless to say it is a garden that many people have heard of, thousands visit every year and it has been one I have been wanting to visit for some time. A week ago I had the opportunity during a short break in Stow-on-the-Wold.
The view as you step out of the door: vista alert
Some more vistas:
The area near the house is dominated by a large cedar tree.
Paths to look down, viewpoints and holes in hedges.
A wide open space spoiled, in my view, by the tree at the end. A more elegant one might have improved it:
The red border was still looking good :
Some favourite bits! :
So, what did I think?
Initially I thought all the different views and vistas were fabulous; looking down little paths to a different area with something interesting to see at the end, glimpses through gaps in hedges. But after a while I began to tire of being ‘encouraged’ where to look and would have liked the relief of a wide open space where I could just look around in my own way.
I also felt rather claustrophobic quite close to the house; the hedges were very high
and the ‘rooms’ were fairly small. Added to this was the large cedar tree and lots of tall plants coming into autumn looking rather sad & floppy. I wondered if the hedges were supposed to be this high.
I think my view of the garden may well have been coloured a little by the season: the ‘wow’ factor of some of the flower beds was missing, but then a good garden should hopefully be one for all seasons. The advantage of the time was few visitors of course. I really enjoyed my visit, loved many parts of it and could see how the garden had been very influential but personally would have enjoyed a little more freedom to view.
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From Helen Johnstone
I totally agree with Barbara as I find Hidcote claustrophobic. I really don’t like all those high hedges and little rooms. I do however like the red borders and also the yellow garden which I think is named after Johnston’s mother.
When I visited both Hidcote and Kiftsgate this summer on the same day I felt as though Kiftsgate had more soul to it, it felt more personal. I think this is because Kiftsgate is still gardened by the owners, well at least they direct the gardeners! Whereas Hidcote is a National Trust garden and I find these increasingly lacking in atmosphere possibly because they are gardened with the public in mind.