Monday, 28 July 2008


(NB You can clic on the pictures to enlarge them in case you didn't know.)

The Sock visited Hidcote at the weekend and was expecting some rather pretty Beardshaw borders and Cotswold cottage-style planting. It therefore came as a total revelation to find her socks completely blown off by it!!

The Sock has never fallen so deeply for a garden. It led in a series of rooms from one cacophony of colour to another explosion of form and texture, from a room of cool peace and tranquility to a vibrant hotbed of raucous reds. Yet none of it jarred the senses - just stimulated and excited.

So here is the Sock's tour of the gardens. Mind the gap of plant names - the Sock knows what she likes not always what it's called.

So first room out of the house is a charming courtyard in pinks, silvers, purples which is exactly what you are expecting - so far so predictable.

But then the next room looks like a load of plants have been thrown upwards by an earthquake in a melange of textures and shapes that shouldn't work together but somehow do. The excitement is already bubbling under

Onwards into another room with my absolute favourite planting. The combination of some sort of globe thistles and holodiscus discolor (?) looked like some futuristic city spires against fluffy white clouds

A lovely soft summery planting with the versatile verbena boniarensis

Thistles seemed to be a common theme here as well as being prominent at the Hampton Court show this year. What was billed as 'The rose walk' appeared to have been denuded of roses and replaced with eryngiums creating a silvery glow down each side of the path. A brave and interesting plant scheme. The Sock had been wondering where to plant the eryngium "Jos Eijking" she bought at Hampton Court and now feels inspired to fuse it into a border position previously discounted as the spikeyness seemed wrong.

The eryngiums were attracting lots of happy bees too

Another room - another change in concept and colour - a lush green oasis filled with texture

A bold and in your face yellow garden

A shady woodland area filled with drifts of astrantia and in the background a red lily(?). So unexpected and lit by a shaft of sunlight filtering through the branches of the tree above. As usual the ONE photo that you really, really want to work turned out badly despite several attempts with different camera settings (there is a limit to how long you can hold up the people behind on narrow pathways). It's been included anyway just to give an idea of something the Sock found totally exquisite..

Just as you are thinking that you must surely be satiated already and nothing else will pique your appetite you hit the long red border

As you leave the heat of the red borders to enter a cool ceanothus blue garden you espy a reminder that you are due to go back to the hotel for tea on the lawn. Egg sandwiches with the crusts cut off, toasted tea-bread, two different sorts of scones with clotted cream and jam and three different types of cake!



VP said...

I went to Great Chalfield Manor (another NT property with an Arts and Crafts garden) on Sunday and was disappointed. I was expecting the kind of thing you saw at Hidcote, but the borders looked very tired in comparison. I was charitably thinking 'oh borders do tend to go over at this time of year', but your visit (and Christopher Lloyd's lovely book on succession planting) proves that it needn't be so. I suspect the number of gardeners/volunteers at each property goes some way to making such a big difference, as well as the perceived difference in the 'importance' of each garden. Will be posting on my visit later on this week and will compare with your Hidcote visit.

Arabella Sock said...

I think that was what really surprised me... the expectation that it would all be a bit faded and past its prime but it was just glowing with vitality and everything seemed at its peak!!!

I visited Great Dixter several years back (must go again) and whilst I thought it was lovely it didn't have the same impact on me as Hidcote did.

Fat Rascal said...

It does look truly inspirational, I'll be studying the red borders very closely for my own one-day-I'll-have-it red bed!

I think the rosewalk is very clever - they've made it romantic and feminine which is what you'd expect from roses.

The "Gloire de Versailles" ceonothus is lovely too - mine struggles even though it's allegedly the hardiest. And the latest flowering, mine has only been out for a week or so. There is a space near it so I could plant eryngiums there -that's another inspiration from Hidcote!

Didn't you take a photo of your tea?

Anonymous said...

And i think we should have a photo of you and the Bedsock in the gardens.

Dishwasher Crab said...

I'm with Fat Rascal on this. We need to see those cakes.

Sylvia (England) said...

I am glad that you enjoyed your visit to Hidcote more than I enjoyed mine. My day was spoilt by several areas being closed off: the red garden due to ware and tear on the grass path and the white garden to cut the hedges! They were filming in another area with bright lights so that was a no go area as well. On top of that it was very crowded and there were lots of volunteer working in the garden adding to the crowds. I had expected the crowds but the rest was disappointing at the areas closed.

We went to another NT garden on the same holiday that had the garden closed for weed killing. For those who don't know the NT gardens are not open every day of the week so these jobs can be done when the gardens are closed.

I would like to visit Hidcote again because as you say the planting is lovely, most of the areas within the garden are small and so are always going to feel crowded - but I was disappointed.

best wishes Sylvia

Arabella Sock said...

Hi Sylvia

What a shame your Hidcote visit wasn't up to scratch. I wonder if NT gardens have an updated section on their websites to say if filming or work is taking place in their gardens. It sounds like in this case you missed the two (for me) best bits of the garden. Given it was such a lovely sunny day and the first Saturday of school holidays it was surprisingly uncrowded so I think I must have been very lucky.