Preserving Hidcote’s lavender legacy

Herbaceous flowers in the Pine Garden, with lavender `Hidcote' in the foreground, at Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire

Hidcote is famous for its lavender and gives its name to the most famous English variety. Creating the Arts and Crafts garden was the life’s work of garden designer and plantsman Lawrence Johnston and preserving its lavender legacy is the task of Hidcote’s dedicated garden team.

Johnston the plant collector

Lavender has been a key feature of the Gloucestershire garden ever since Johnston – famous for collecting wild plants from around the world – planted two varieties in the 1930s. These were Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote' and Lavandula × intermedia 'Hidcote Giant’.
The most famous species, ‘Hidcote’, is a bushy plant which produces beautiful, pale blue flowers and a fantastic perfume on warm, sunny days. The rarer variety, ‘Hidcote Giant’, is much taller than its cousin, giving it impact in the gardens, and has a more aromatic scent.

Looking after Hidcote’s lavender

It’s not unusual to find Hidcote’s gardeners deep amongst the beds and borders on a visit and maintaining the lavender is an important part of the job. Both the ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Hidcote Giant’ can be enjoyed in the three main areas of the garden, the Pillar garden, rock garden and Lily pool garden areas.
As one of Hidcote's most popular plants the gardeners work hard to keep the lavender at its best. ‘If the lavender flowers early, we deadhead it quickly once it’s flowered,’ says head gardener Glyn Jones. ‘This way it’s very likely it will flower again later in the season even into September and October.’
‘I really love Hidcote’s lavender,’ adds Glyn. ‘Walking past it on a summer day is just fantastic. The colour and smell of it just lifts the spirit and if you simply run your hands through it you can smell the scent on you for the rest of the day.’

A feast for the eyes and the taste buds

Hidcote’s lavender is at its best from mid-June until August and can even be enjoyed in the restaurant where the catering team has created a lavender ice-cream and syrup. It’s also possible to buy lavender plants from the plant centre to take home with you.
The lavender displays at Hidcote will also be lighting up our screens in BBC Two’s Great British Garden Revival. Hidcote is one of 10 gardens featured in the series alongside Mottisfont, Stourhead, Hanbury, Bodnant and Calke Abbey.
Video courtesy of Outline Productions.

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