My first week at Hidcote Manor Garden has been quite incredible. I graduated on Saturday, flew overnight to the UK on Sunday, settled in on Monday, and started working on Tuesday! Now one week later I am over my jet lag, beginning to comprehend that I live here, and am (mostly) accustomed to driving on the opposite side of the road. I could type for pages about my first experiences this week, but I will just hit the highlights…
Hidcote has a very talented staff. The important part for my experience is that they are also good teachers, taking the time to demonstrate what needs to be done as well as the reasoning and history behind the decisions. Since Hidcote is an historic garden and part of the National Trust, original practices are used as often as possible to maintain the garden as Lawrence Johnston would have envisioned it. One example of this is in the natural plant supports that we created this week in the cut flower garden. For these, coppicing (in this case hazelwood) is collected. The hazel is pliable and can be bent and weaved to support the plants as they grow. Twigs are then trimmed down and inserted into the soil. The branches are weaved together around and through the plants. In this usage, the supports will help the flower stalks from falling over as they develop.
Next, we traveled to London for the Chelsea Flower Show. This is an annual horticultural display show in Chelsea, London. Visiting the Chelsea Flower show was an intense experience; intense beauty and intense crowds of people! It is interesting to see how many people in the United Kingdom are familiar with and excited about horticulture. The flower show included plant displays as well as landscape installation displays.
Over the long weekend, we traveled to several different gardens: Buscot, Kiftsgate, and Stowe. Buscot and Stowe are both part of the National Trust, the same network that Hidcote is in. Kiftsgate is independently owned. Buscot was an inspiration, with surprises as we moved across the property. Kiftsgate is a smaller garden that incorporates old world charm along with modern elements. A unique feature of this garden is the terrace garden from the house down to the pond below. Lastly, Stowe was vast in both garden size and architectural splendor. The crown piece of the property is the mansion that is currently under restoration, but the grandeur is not diminished.
All things combined, it has been an experiential first week in England! I am eager for my second week of this great adventure in horticulture and self-discovery.