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Hidcote Garden, Cotswolds, England

A GREAT GARDEN HAS MANY ROOMS

Think of a garden like a house: made up of a series of different rooms.

In a house, each room can be quite different to the next, both in appearance and purpose. Each section of a garden can also vary in its appearance and purpose.

This is how some of the best landscape designers think of gardens.

Rooms or sections of a garden can be separated by hedges, dense shrubberies, trellis or walls of stone, timber or any other material. The floor of a garden may be covered with gravel, lawn, paving, creepers, low shrubs or even water. The roof is most often the sky; but it could also be the interlocking canopy of large trees or the framework of some other stucture such as an arched walk or pergola.

One of the best examples of the outdoor room concept is Hidcote Manor; near Stratford upon Avon in England. Even if you only have a small garden, you can find inspiration in some of Hidcotes smaller “outdoor rooms”.

There are 28 distinct garden areas at Hidcote. A series of smaller hedged gardens close to the house are particularly inspiring.

Soon after entering Hidcote, most people find themselves at the circle garden. From this point, paths lead in two main directions; one through the red borders to the stilt garden, and the other down a series of terraces to the bathing pool garden.

The Red Borders is an enclosed rectangular garden filled with plants that have predominantly red and purple coloured flowers (and some red foliage). This creates a “warm” feeling, even in cold weather.

In contrast to the Red Borders, the White Garden is made up of plants with white flowers (and some silver and grey foliage); providing a “cool” feeling, even on hot days.

The Stilt Garden comprises two rows of clipped hornbeam trees on clean trunks (all the low branches are removed), over a clean pattern of gravel paths and patches of lawn covering the ground. At the far end is a metal gate through which you can see distant views across the countryside.

The Bathing Pool Garden is dominated by a large mirror pool (called a mirror pool, because it is large enough to reflect extensive images of the surrounding hedges and trees beyond). Cool colours are featured in the plants (eg. blue poppies and willow gentians) in keeping with the coolness of the water.

Hidcote was the lifes work of Lawrence Johnson, the son of wealthy American parents, born in France and educated at Cambridge. His inheritance enabled him to spend the best part of his life indulging his passion for gardening and plant collecting. In 1948, Lawrence Johnston gave Hidcote to the National Trust who manage it to this day.

Hidcote is open to the public and a must see for anyone visiting Britain; even those not so keen on gardening. Members of the National Trust in Australia are admitted to the garden free if they show their membership card (as is the case with all national trust properties in England).

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