The garden of Hidcote Manor in Gloucestershire is among the most influential gardens in England, and certainly one of the most visited. Each year more than 100,000 visitors come to this Cotswold hilltop to admire the intricate parterres and exuberant borders, to wander through the fabled series of 'garden rooms' and the mysterious woodland glades and find inspiration in the varied gallery of plants. No garden made in the 20th century has more clearly charted the direction to be taken by garden style. None has offered more vivid inspiration to the makers of gardens large and small.
Profile of the Garden
The Man Behind the Garden
The Grand Design
The Old Garden
The White Garden and the Maple Garden
The Circle, the Fuchsia Garden and the Bathing Pool Garden
The Red Borders
The Winter Border and the Alpine Terrace
Mrs Winthrop's Garden
The Long Walk, the Theatre Lawn and the Stilt Garden
The Pillar Garden
The Bulb Slope and the Stream Garden
The Plant House
The Rose Walk
The Garden Yard
Serre de la Madone
From The Old Garden
Essential to the Hidcote experience is the sensation of always being on terms of easy intimacy with plants; you seem wrapped around by them. This comes from the fact that almost all the flower borders are twins, each resembling its opposite if not being a mirror image, and the paths and vistas are driven through and between them. Only in two minor instances, the Terrace and the Winter Border, does the design depart from from this principle. The effect is like that of walking through a bluebell wood or across a field of poppies . Thus despite the scenic features, the long vistas, the element of theatre, you always feel a participant, never merely a spectator. For want of an alternative, one talks of the garden's 'flower borders', but the term is scarcely appropriate. The 'walking through' experience is as different from watching a play staged 'in the round' as seeing it taking place beyond a proscenium.
Even in the heart of the Old Garden. perhaps the most richly planted section of all, where the twin plantings are divided by the broad panel of turf opening the dramatic scene of the Great Alley, you are still in direct contact with the work of the planter's hand.
To have made the plantings round the chief viewpoint in the Old Garden, from which the Great Alley is seen first and most often, anything but one bland in colouring would have weakened the theatrical impact of an avenue that strides out into the distance with incidents to be explored on either side. It would have distracted the eye at the start and lessened the powerful effect of the overall scheme. The colouring had to be soft and unobtrusive.
Thus it is pure Jekyllian and could be taken as the prototype of all those borders created in recent years with pink and mauve flowers lit by touches of silver and moonlight yellow. Unlike Jekyll's borders, however, it is carried out not purely in herbaceous plants but also with shrub roses, with a scattering of other shrubs and an underlayer of heraceous perennials. In summer a few batches of annual and tender perennial flowers are brought out from the greenhouses and popped in to strengthen the colour and enhance the effect in those places where the tulips that provide spring flowers are dying down.