Managed by the National Trust, Hidcote Manor is a grade one listed garden consisting of ten and a half acres incorporating twenty one garden areas or rooms providing colour throughout the seasons.
It was created in the early 20th century on a windswept Cotswolds hilltop by wealthy American turned naturalised Brit, Lawrence Johnston, who had been influenced by French garden design in his youth.
He decided to combine two popular but opposed styles - the older, quite heavy formal designs from France mixed with the lighter, more free-form, cottage garden style popularised by Gertrude Jekyll.
Johnston was an accomplished plantsman with his skills earning him great repute and awards from the RHS. He collected rare and unusual plants from around the world and today Hidcote is a showcase for a wonderful collection of trees and shrubs along with exotic and herbaceous annuals and perennials.
But it is the architectural nature of these gardens that also makes a powerful impression. Using stone, yew, hornbeam and box, he created a collection of garden rooms that reveal themselves slowly to the wandering visitor. The effect is that of discovery and delight as each 'room' delivers its own distinct character and personality through the use of plants and form.
This garden offers more variety than most with so many styles and moods to indulge in. From the softly busy mixed borders, to elegant and regimented avenues of tall trees, neatly clipped pillars of yew and artful topiary, wild and leafy woodlands, overflowing rows of vegetables and an abundance of water features of many shapes and sizes.
The White Garden predates the one at Sissinghurst and the Bathing Pool Garden is quite stunning even if the water is rather green.
The Central Stream Garden features many moisture-loving plants and lush foliage while the Fuchsia Garden uses a novelty brick path to accentuate the symmetry of the planting beds.
The Long Borders are a delight in summer as they overflow with colourful annuals and the Maple Garden shows off many of Johnstons collections from China and the Far East.
The Old Garden is reminiscent of Great Dixter with its deep beds of crazy cottage garden chaos while the Wilderness Walk offers a break from the intensity of planting to enjoy the cool air of the beech understorey.
This garden is a unique and original achievement that has been much copied. It is intricate and complex but rarely offers a glimpse to the countryside in which it sits. As such it is quite inward looking, but the result is quiet and contemplative, providing that you don't visit on a weekend when it can get rather congested.
The National Trust do a very good job of managing this 'shrine to plantsmanship', (not normally their forte, being best at castles and grand houses), but they have assigned the cream of their horticultural team to this place along with provision of very good facilities and access.
With 100,000 visitors a year, it needs to be good.
Author: Bob Saunders.
Barn Cafe: Refreshments and light snacks alfresco.
Winthrop Cafe: Hot and cold lunches along with afternoon teas and snacks all in an indoor dining room and conservatory.
Plant Centres Sales: The National Trust's biggest plant centre
Gift Shop: Full of inspiring gift ideas from tasty treats to exclusive knick-knacks for the home and garden
Dogs: Not allowed unless assisting disable visitors
Prams: due to path variability it is not advised to bring pushchairs or prams.
Disabled Toilets are available.
One wheelchair is available to borrow - though only one third of garden is accessible by wheelchair
Hidcote is close to Mickleton village, around one mile east of the B4632 (originally A46), off B4081 and there is free parking with 100yd walk, mobility parking only a 20yd walk.
Honeybourne station is about four and a half miles away. It is best to book a taxi in advance of visit as the station does not have a dedicated taxi rank.