I hade the opportunity last week to hear Glyn Jones, Garden and Countryside Manager at Hidcote Manor Garden, talk at a conference here in Boston. Hidcote is a very famous garden in Glouchestershire England. Created by Lawrence Johnston (an American!) the garden is known for its different outdoor rooms, perfectly pruned hedges, and arts and crafts style. I haven’t been to Hidcote, but it is now on my list of gardens to visit.
Throughout the talk Glyn presented gorgeous photos of the garden, and information on its history and restoration. One of the topics I found most interesting was the concept behind the garden area known as the “Red Borders”.
The painting Madame Suggia by Augustus John served as the inspiration for the plant design, where the folds of the cellist’s dress display a spectrum of different red tones, from bright crimson to dark cherry. When the gardeners at Hidcote planted (or now maintain) the Red Borders, they literally reference this painting when selecting plants, to keep the color palette true to the inspiration (Glyn said he keeps a copy of the photo on his iPhone for quick reference when plant shopping).
In the book Best Borders, Tony Lord describes the borders as “lying along the main axis of the garden… the Red Borders are processional, a long gallery connecting the other rooms, meant to be walked through and not a place to stop and rest. Johnston’s choice of flower color reflects this character, exhilarating, uplifting, but far from restful.” I think that red, as a color in the landscape, is one of the most unusual and energizing. From a fiery red sunset to fall foliage, it is hard not to notice this color.