At 2:00 a.m. this morning I found myself absorbed in recording a May 2008 visit with my sister to Ladew Topiary Gardens. So I could get a few hours sleep, I paused overnight in the Yellow Garden (see A Favorite Garden—Ladew Topiary Gardens, Part 1). Now I am anxious to show you the rest of what we saw that lovely spring day.
In this section of the garden, the Yellow Garden, there is an iron arched tunnel covered with Laburnum and our late May visit was perfectly timed so we could admire the golden panicles as we passed underneath.
Soon we encountered the Tivoli Tea House and Garden. The Tea House was fabricated using material that once was the Tivoli Theatre’s box office facade in London. Sadly I did not get pictures of the building except as it happened to be near these flowers.
What really stood out to me in this area was the hillside below of peonies just beginning to flower. I wanted to camp out and wait to see the entire slope in full bloom.
We moved on toward the Sculpture Garden, but actually it was about here we were both tiring. My sister found a shady spot to rest while I peeked into just a few more places.
Style is such a personal thing. While I am not a big fan of whimsy in the garden, I recognize it has its place. This is a topiary garden after all and Mr. Ladew was apparently a witty person. He bought the property for fox hunting originally and near the house stands a huge topiary hunting scene (sorry, I did not get a photo of that).
In the Sculpture Garden there were lots of animal forms. On the left is a victory sign and in center is a heart and arrow. Walking around in this area one can also find Churchill’s top hat.
My favorite topiary at Ladew was a collection of swans. The yew hedge was shaped to form waves for these creatures and the hedge itself surrounds an oval pool (originally a swimming pool). This 2-acre area is known as The Great Bowl and now in summer it serves as a venue for outdoor concerts.
I will also mention another interesting use of topiary is found nearer the house in the Terrace Garden. My sister and I had passed by this scene at some point earlier. I admired the Canadian hemlock hedges in the Terrace Garden with windows cut into them and garlands draping above.
I knew my sister was waiting for me, but before I could leave Ladew I had to see the Iris Garden with over 60 iris varieties. She was very patient with me as I tried to take it all in.
It probably was here at Ladew I first saw such a rich darkly colored Iris. I cannot recall if most of the plants were labelled. I think so but made a point to learn this one’s name: Iris ‘Hello Darkness’.
Apparently designed as a lean, Tibetan Buddha I read on the Ladew website this taxus buddha in the Iris Garden is on a diet. Timidity in pruning had allowed his girth to increase. In 2011 the gardeners began a more aggressive program to streamline his shape.
After seeing the Iris Garden I reconnected with my sister. By then we were exhausted and hungry. Plans for a cafe at Ladew were not yet realized in 2008, but someone at the house gave us directions to a nearby, local establishment for fine dining. We lingered over our food, relaxing and chatting before making the drive back home.
I would love to return to this garden someday to see the rest. It was a fine mixture of long views of the estate balanced with private niches and careful details. Not bad at all for a self-trained gardener Mr. Ladew!