Reflection of Hidcote and Life in England

It’s stunning how fast time has passed by this Summer. On Sunday, our time at Hidcote concludes and Christina and I will be on a plane to Japan.  While I am excited for what is ahead of me in Japan, I am sad to leave England. For four months, I have worked with an amazing team of passionate horticulturists who care so much for the garden they work at. Like Longwood, Hidcote became a second home for me, which means it’s actually my third.

The Perks of TRIAD: A view of Old Garden from my bedroom window.

The Perks of TRIAD: A view of Old Garden from my bedroom window.

What I found odd living in England was how much stuff from America was still available. Of course, you would have to walk in the back corner of the super market to find the exemplary cuisine (e.g; Hotdogs), but it was still all there.  I especially enjoyed the biscuits. The English have a great respect for sweets, but I still shock them with the amount I sugar I use for tea.

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What kind of cheap knockoff product are these people trying to sell me?

The first rule of Pudding Club is that you actually eat cakes, but call it pudding.

The first rule of Pudding Club is that you actually eat cakes, but call it pudding.

The largest struggle I experienced when working at Hidcote is space. Hidcote is a 10 acre Arts and Crafts styled garden. Instead of an emphasis in large open areas, with exception to the great lawn, Lawrence Johnston divided the garden into small garden rooms with the use of masonry and hedging. This gives the garden an intimate experience to anyone who would have visited during Johnston’s time, as it was a private garden in the countryside away from London.

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The Long Walk. The farther down you walk, the more narrow the space between the two sides of hornbeam hedge becomes. This makes the walk seem longer than it actually is.

Today, Hidcote is a very popular tourist attraction, so while it is deservedly admired by many of the public, it looses the intimacy that it previously had. I have always enjoyed working in public and talking to guests, but it can become hectic on an average  day and challenging to navigate the narrow pathways with a wheelbarrow while behind a guided tour of 25 guests.

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The Maple Garden

One of my favorite times of the day was when Hidcote was closed. The atmosphere of the garden completely changes as the only sounds I would hear were pigeons cooing and sheep baa-ing.

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The Stilt Garden.

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The Beech Allee became my favorite area of the garden. Serving as a buffer zone from harsh winds in winter, this area was always quiet even when open to the public.

Summer in England was perfect in terms of weather. Not too hot and humid, and not a lot of rain, which I have been told by every English person that I met that this is very uncommon for this season.  There were occasional days when it did rain, then stop, then rain again, then stop again, which would continue the whole day through. Those were the days when I wished I was under glass again.

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It rained the whole day planting Mrs. Winthrops’ Garden. It’s been years since the last time I was rolling in mud!

The advantage of starting in May was that I could see through the whole season how plantings progressed. I was glad I had this experience as it showed me that I have a problem over planting. In Mrs. Winthrops’ Garden, I placed too many Coreopsis plants, to have an immediate color within the bed, however it completely crowded out my Salvia plants. I was disappointed in my end result and wish I could return to replant next year, knowing what I do now.

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The end result. The bottom left has too much yellow, the Salvia’s blue flower would have broken up the over saturation of yellow.

Hidcote’s plant collection differentiates it from other similar styled gardens. Johnston, an avid plant collector who would travel around the world in plant expeditions, wanted the greatest exotic plants he could find. One of my goals when applying for TRIAD was to expand my plant knowledge and Hidcote as well as other gardens were great places to help with that as I was constantly running into plants that I never knew.

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Protea cynaroides in the Plant Shelter.

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Begonia goegoensis at Edinburgh Botanic Garden.

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Rhododendron ericoides. That’s right, it’s a rhododendron!

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Making my list of ‘Worst Common Named Plants’, it’s the wedding cake plant. Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’.

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I know this plant somewhere…

One of the best parts working at Hidcote was the gardening team. I always looked forward to work because of whom I was working with. The most thrilling part of my workday was tea time in the mess, where a hilarious 30 minute performance took place every day. The most mundane tasks were a joy to undertake as the team was always entertaining and very passionate of Hidcote. Of course, they pronounce everything wrong, from zebra to vitamins, and they’ll spend all day saying “coffee” just waiting for the only person with a proper New York accent to say it (This experience made me realize that I really do have an accent).

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Eric with his magnum opus.

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Tearing out blighted boxwood with the Hidcote team at Westbury Court. Fantastic day of character building!

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Mike going all out tearing boxwood!

It’s sad to leave everybody, they made my time at Hidcote an amazing experience that went by too fast, but Christina and I are only a third through the TRIAD fellowship. I’m looking forward to Japan for our next exciting journey.

(Some of) The Hidcote Garden Team.

(Some of) The Hidcote Garden Dream Team. Teamwork makes the dream work.

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Using a closing picture with a rainbow is way better than the generic sun setting picture!

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