England’s Finest Gardens & Chelsea Flower Show 2009
May 19th – 27th, 2009

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

After breakfast we enjoyed a full day excursion to Bedford to visit The Manor House Garden at Stevington then we traveled to the Cotswolds to visit Hidcote Manor

The Manor House Garden at Stevington has been created by owners Kathy and Simon Brown over the last 18 years and includes contrasting areas; typical English country style with cottage garden plants and herbaceous borders; wild flower meadow; an orchard; major ‘pot’ displays; a formal French style garden; as well as six art gardens based on work by Rothko, Monet, Mondrian, Hokusai, Hepworth and Kandinsky. Several of these are planted with naturalistic prairie plants such as grasses and Echinacea.

The end of May is particularly glorious for the long arches of wisterias, laburnum and robinias underplanted with hundreds of purple alliums. At this time various Clematis montanas are in flower as well as early roses and blue ceanothus. Herbaceous borders will be looking promising and the French Garden should be vivid with new growth. Kathy is well known for her use of edible flowers and has a large border devoted to them, as well as many others scattered around the garden. These include rosemary, cowslips, sweet cicely, chives, thyme, sage, elderflower, marigolds, roses, lavender, dianthus, violas, hemerocallis, bronze fennel, sunflowers, hyssop, mint, etc. Kathy will take us on a tour of the garden, explaining the art connections, and stories about inspiration for the garden. She will also include ideas for using the edible flowers. Both the English Garden Magazine and BBC Gardeners World have made recent visits.

Hidcote Manor Garden

'The twisting lanes of the Cotswold countryside lead to one of the most inventive and influential gardens of the twentieth century. Hidcote Manor Garden, with its structure of outdoor 'rooms', linked by vistas and furnished with all sorts of topiary, recalls both the English garden style and the European connections of its creator Major Lawrence Johnston. Laid out over seventy years ago an astonishing variety of effects
have been created. Hedges, walls, water and paving were all combined to create a garden that has its originals in the Arts and Crafts movement. Profuse and 'jungly' planting, rich colour and texture, contrast with areas left deliberately plain to give calm and restful interludes, so increasing the impact of the garden's lavish and exciting progression.'

Hidcote Manor Garden is one of England's great gardens. It was the life's passion of one man, self-taught gardener Lawrence Johnston who created his 'garden of rooms' here. Lawrence Johnston was born in Paris of American parents. He came to England to study at Cambridge University. After graduating, he fought for the British Army. He was so badly wounded in the First World War that he was laid out for burial.
His colleagues realized that he was still alive only after he moved slightly. In 1907, Johnston's mother, Mrs Gertrude Winthrop, bought the Hidcote Manor Estate. Johnston came to live at Hidcote and soon took to gardening. Johnston spent 41 years creating what would become one of England's most influential 20th-century gardens. Again as with many of these gardens, you will find pictures under past Chelsea tours to look at.



  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row