Water lilies at Hidcote, Gloucestershire

Why is it that water lilies fascinate us so much?

Perhaps it’s because they are like people: they worship the sun.

Perhaps it’s because they float serenely and effortlessly on ponds and lakes, giving those looking on a sense of stillness and quiet.

And perhaps it’s because they often form the centrepiece of a pond or water-feature that, in itself, is the central attraction of a garden.

Whatever the reason, they always seem to catch our eye.

This was especially the case during a recent visit to Hidcote Manor Gardens in Gloucestershire.

This garden is reputed to be one the most celebrated (and visited) gardens of England.

It was designed by an American called Major Lawrence Johnson who, with his mother, came to England at the turn of the twentieth century.

After buying the manor house in the quaintly named village of Hidcote Bartrim, in Gloucestershire, he set about transforming his fields into what’s now one of the UK’s finest gardens.

He was very much influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, the international artistic moment that made traditional craftmanship and folk-art very popular.
He designed his garden into separate areas of ‘rooms’, each with its own distinctive features. He used water features and topiaries to connect these ‘rooms’ He also selected particularly hardy plants that would survive and thrive in England to creative fantastic beds.

Major Johnson was a bit of a recluse. And in his later life spent more time in Southern France, building another garden the Jardin Serre de la Madone, and in 1947 he gave Hidcote over to the National Trust.

Although it was incredibly busy when we visited, we really enjoyed exploring the gardens. Walking around all the different areas really did give us a sense of discovery and adventure, as we moved from one area to another.

For us, though, the most impressive section was the water-garden.

The water lilies were just amazing.

There was a trellised area just to the side of the water-garden in which we sat and quietly took in all the beauty, tranquillity and positive karma around us.

The lilies will soon duck under water and hibernate for winter.

No doubt they will return again next summer…it now seems such a long time to wait.

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