I'm a real garden lover and really enjoy visiting a special garden or two on my travels so when I was visiting the Cotswolds in 2013, I made sure that at least one of England's most famous gardens was on my itinerary. Europe and the UK are home to many famous gardens, a couple of which I've already managed to visit, including Italy's Isola Bella, but there are many more that have eluded me to date, so my visit to Hidcote Garden was highly anticipated.
We visited in late-June and couldn't believe the number of cars streaming into the car park as we arrived. Granted it was a gloriously sunny day, but it was a Tuesday and we'd made sure we arrived shortly after opening time. By the time we departed after lunch, the car park was jam packed with cars and buses so if you plan on visiting Hidcote Garden, particularly on a weekend, I'd encourage you to arrive early and beat the worst of the crowds.
Hidcote Garden (the full name is Hidcote Manor Garden) is located at Hidcote Bartrim, about five miles (8 km) from Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds region of England. The gardens, now managed by the National Trust, were started by American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston, on his mother's property, Hidcote Manor, in 1907.
Siting high on a hill overlooking the rolling Cotswold fields below, the exposed gardens required protection from the harsh weather so Johnston designed a series of 'rooms' which still exist today. As you wander through the various rooms you begin to appreciate the size of the garden and the work that is required to keep it in tip-top shape today.
Hidcote Garden is a mix of formal hedges and topiary, herbaceous borders, winding paths, espaliered archways, a thriving kitchen garden and natural-looking parkland gardens which include a beautiful 'glen' complete with stream and azalea and rhododendron-filled banks.
There are plenty of places to sit and reflect as you explore the beautiful gardens on your own. I love formal gardens and found myself returning to the well clipped topiary and hedges for another look, but the pond, with its flowering water lilies, was also a highlight - and inspiration for my garden at home (my husband sighs!!).
After a couple of hours spent wandering the gardens, we browsed in the National Trust gift shop and then enjoyed a delicious lunch at Winthrop's Cafe. There's also a farm shop (with nursery) and the Barn Cafe on site.
Need to know:
Entry to Hidcote Garden costs £12.70* per adult. We had a 2-for-1 voucher courtesy of our B&B host so check tourist brochures if you're staying nearby for similar offers. (*2018 prices)
The gardens have limited opening times from October to April, but open daily between 1 May and 30 September from 10am to 6pm.