The White Garden at Hidcote
The Red Border
The Stilt Garden
Bertie Bainbridge and Hidcote gardener, Philip Bowell
Philip Bowell in The Central Stream Garden
The Central Stream Garden
We spent a damp day at Hidcote, the famous National Trust Garden of the late Lawrence Johnston in Gloucestershire. I can never get enough of this garden with all the rooms, focal points and interesting plants. The downside is that no one else can either and Hidcote can be very busy making a cold, damp day an asset by being a crowd deterrent and producing excellent light for photographs.
I was very pleased to run into fellow blogger, Bertie Bainbridge, author of his information-packed blog called What ho Hidcote! Bertie is a trainee gardener at Hidcote and gives insight into the daily life there. He had just returned from a work placement at Monet’s Garden in Giverny and I was actually surprised to run into him. Unfortunately, I didn't have a long visit because our group was about to leave for another gem of a garden called Kiftsgate a short distance away.
With just a few moments to spare, Bertie took me to the greenhouse to show me some of the tender plants that were about to be placed in the garden once the temperatures became more cooperative. This had been an especially cold and wet spring in England and the garden was behind schedule. Interestingly, in NH we have had a very early spring and I was taken aback to find lilacs blooming in both places.
The highlight of this year's visit to Hidcote was meeting Philip Bowell, one of the gardeners. Philip has been gardening at Hidcote for some 30 years now and probably has the most intimate knowledge of the garden of anyone alive today. In those days, the gardeners, including Philip, were often trained in the garden. When he first arrived, there was a very limited budget and many groundcovers and time-saving devices were implemented resulting in a watered down version of Johnston's masterpiece. Gradually, as the budget increased, the garden was brought back to its former glory. They now have a staff of gardeners and a training program for apprentice gardeners like Bertie. It is quite a thrill to see this garden in mint condition.