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Restored semi-tropical plant house in Gloucestershire

Created by American-born horticulturalist Major Lawrence Johnston, Hidcote is one of the most inventive and influential gardens of the 20th Century

National Trust has announced that a newly restored semi-tropical plant house, a bathing pool and a summerhouse mural are just some of the results of 10 years of hard work and £3.5 million investment at Hidcote Manor garden in Gloucestershire.

The National Trust has now officially completed a major phase of reinstating many of the key historic structures in this world-famous garden thanks to the support of an anonymous donor, who matched every pound raised by the Trust up to £1.6 million.

Created by American-born horticulturalist Major Lawrence Johnston, Hidcote is one of the most inventive and influential gardens of the 20th Century. His creation was built around outdoor 'rooms' linked by views and design features influenced by the fashionable 'Arts and Crafts' style.

However, elements of the 10 acre garden fell into disrepair during the 1950s and as a result, 10 years ago, the National Trust set itself a target to recreate Hidcote as Johnston planned it.

National Trust gardeners and volunteers have spent a decade researching and piecing together Johnston's original plans for his Cotswolds garden, putting in many thousands of hours of work into reinstating former structures and garden rooms which formed part of Johnston's vision, with 'habitats' ranging from hi alpine to the sub-tropical.

Head gardener at Hidcote, Glyn Jones, who led the team working on the project, said:"This has been a huge undertaking but one that we're very proud of. We really feel that we have managed to bring Johnston's vision back to life. Visitors will be able to imagine Johnston and his guests enjoying the gardens, tennis courts and bathing pool back in the 1920s, 30s and 40s as they wander around."

In Hidcote's new incarnation, Johnston's unique plant house has been given a new lease of life. It is once again filled with semi tropical plants such as citruses - orange and lemon - Fuchsias, South African Plumbago, Begonias and Oleanders. Fully glazed in the winter, in the summer the plant house was designed to have the panels along the front removed turning it into a floral arcade.

Mike Calnan, head of gardens and parks at the National Trust, said: "Hidcote is one of the most famous and important 20th Century gardens in Europe. It is of particular importance to the Trust because it is the first property acquired purely on merit for its garden.

"The team has done a fantastic job in turning the garden around, reinstating many structures, lost features and installing behind-the-scenes services to make it easier to maintain.

"Painstaking research has also been put into tracking down the plants Johnston used and reinstating former beds and planted areas. We may never know exactly how he arranged these to create the celebrated 'Johnston' style, but our challenge over the coming years is to move even closer towards that vision of perfection."

Mike Beeston, property manager at Hidcote, said: "With Hidcote already attracting 150,000 every year, we hope the completion of the restoration will inspire new visitors to take a look - and also to inspire past visitors to visit again."

by S. C.
07 november 2011, Food & Fun > Travel