Six Inspiring Garden Ideas from Hidcote Manor

Inspiring garden ideas Hidcote Manor Green Fingered Blog
Hidcote is world famous as one of the finest examples of an "Arts and Crafts" garden. 

It's a quintessentially English garden, full of plants and full of inspiration for all gardeners. I've chosen six ideas from Hidcote that you can use to add a touch of class your garden.

"My Italian friends regard Hidcote as the most beautiful garden they have seen in England"  
Mary Anderson de Navarro, A Few More Moments (1936)

Although it was created by an American,  Lawrence Johnston, Hidcote Manor in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds is in the style that's usually considered as classically English, being comprised of many different "rooms" each with a different style or theme. Some feature specific plants, others use particular colours. 

You might like to read my overview of the gardens at Hidcote from when I last visited:

Gardens to visit - Hidcote Manor - Great English Garden

Most of us don't have enough space to have tall yew hedges separating the garden into many different areas, but there are plenty of things to see at Hidcote which can be incorporated into almost any garden, from ways of pruning shrubs to combinations of particular plants. I've chosen six things that inspired me:

Six Inspiring Garden Ideas from Hidcote Manor

Silver foliage

Grouping together a few plants with similar colour leaves can create an impact even in a small area. 

Here we have, from left to right, a stachys, dianthus and a lamium, with varying tones of silver grey, nestled between the darker green box hedges. 

Together they create a notable effect that shines out from some distance. 

Silver foliage plants Inspiring ideas from Hidcote Green Fingered Blog
Cluster of silver foliage plants at Hidcote

In a large garden like Hidcote you may be able to repeat this several times (see the picture of the white garden below) but if you only have space to do it once then it's worthwhile. 

An enclosed tranquil green space 

You can see the groups of silver foliage highlighting the centre of the white garden at Hidcote in the picture below.

But at the time of my visit there weren't many white flowers on show. There were a few white "bleeding hearts" of Dicentra but most had finished their springtime show. 

In summer the so called white garden reverts to an oasis of green tranquility. The calming effect is striking. 

Tranquil green space Inspiring ideas Hidcote Green Fingered Blog
In summer, Hidcote's "White garden" becomes a tranquil green oasis 
Maybe your garden has a space, perhaps a seating area, that can be completely enclosed by a variety of dark green foliage to create the same effect.

It doesn't have to be a large area, just enclose it as much as you can with evergreens, and in the centre of it you can feel the calming effect for yourself. 

Pleach a tree and underplant it

On the fringes of the "Old Garden" I noticed this small holly tree. All the lower branches have been pruned out, leaving a straight bare trunk which stands out against the dark green hedging behind.

The base of the holly is planted with arching ferns and spreading hardy geraniums, nestling against it softly. This is a delightful detail that adds an extra dimension to this border, but is so easily recreated in almost any garden.    

Pleached holly with underplanting Inspiring ideas from Hidcote Green Fingered Blog
Pleached holly with underplanting

Contrast bright blue and yellow flowers

The garden room known as Mrs Winthrop's garden, designed by Lawrence Johnston for his mother, was intended to be an uplifting space. This is achieved primarily by the use of very bright blue and yellow flowers. 

Blue and yellow flowers Hidcote Inspiring ideas Green Fingered Blog
Mrs Winthrop's Garden at Hidcote

Together, the hemerocallis, irises and salvias create a dramatic contrast, really standing out against each other to great effect. 

This is another example of something that is great even if you can only do it once with a single plant of each - you could even do it in a pot - or repeat it several times. 

A long straight view

Hidcote is perhaps known more than anything else for its long avenues, with packed borders on either side, channelling the viewers gaze towards a focal point in the distance.

Long borders Inspiring ideas from Hidcote Green Fingered Blog
A long view between borders at Hidcote
How do you achieve this in a small garden? Well it doesn't have to be about long borders, it can be about the geometry instead. Some straight lines can create a striking visual impact whatever length they are.

Add some abundant planting on either side, or one or two highlight plants (check out the bursts of red in the hot borders in the title picture of this post) and you'll draw people's eyes along the view.

A focal point of some sort is a good additon at the far end of whatever space it is. This can be as simple as a pot, ornament or feature plant. It doesn't need to be a large gate or massive cedar tree as at Hidcote - make it suit your own space and taste.

Plant as tall as you can

The most impressive thing I saw on my latest visit to Hidcote was in the "Old Garden". A walled courtyard close to the house, it is full of plants, and paths. I promise you there were about ten people standing in front of me when I took this picture:

Tall planting in the Old Garden Inspiring ideas from Hidcote Green Fingered Blog
The Old Garden, with spectacular tall planting

So where are all those people? Well the paths cross the view above several times at various distances but all are hidden by the incredibly tall planting. 

I don't know what all of them were, but they included phlox, hydrangeas, roses, physocarpus, and others, all allowed to reach heights of at least six feet (1.8m) so that they filled the view completely, obscuring the areas behind.

This is one way of creating either a secluded retreat engulfed in planting, or a larger dramatic border, depending on how much space you have. 

At Hidcote it provides an eye level view filled with colour right across to the far side of the courtyard. In a smaller space it could be an extra layer of planting at the back of a border filled with smaller plants in front.   

"Plants grow in a jumble, flowering shrubs mingle with roses, climbers scramble over hedges and seedlings come up wherever they chose to sow themselves. That's how I like to garden" 
Lawrence Johnston.

Hidcote is a fabulous place to wander round. Both the overall appearance and the finer details are enjoyable and inspirational to see. I hope I've managed to give you a flavour of it, and how some of the features can be used in our own gardens. Look out for more ideas from great gardens I've visited soon. Until then you might like to check these out:




  1. Beautiful pictures! I love the tips on how to translate a garden like this into our own yards.

    1. Thanks for your lovely comments. Be sure to visit again as I will be visiting more gardens when I can.

  2. Another beautiful garden! I love your posts about taking trips to other gardens for inspiration. I enjoy how some of these designs can be incorporated into small gardens and even pots. It doesn't hurt that this garden was designed by an American either :D. Thanks for sharing on the August #MyGloriousGardens link party!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Ann, it is certainly very beautiful, one of the best I've been to, but I'll be visiting more, just in case there'e somewhere else even better!