Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ladew Topiary Gardens, Monkton MD.

My Mom and I visited Ladew Gardens on my last trip home and it was a fantastic day!
My passion being travel, especially local travel, I'm always looking for the prettiest places to visit.  I had known about Ladew for a while now, but it is north of Baltimore, so with me living in Southwestern Virginia and my family living in the metro DC area, Monkton wasn't exactly easy to get to on a tight schedule.
But this particular day worked out, I was home with my Mom, and she was off work, so we agreed over tea and toast to make the two hour trek from her place to Ladew, we were glad we did:)

Ladew Topiary Gardens is the masterpiece of Harvey Ladew, it has survived and thrived years after his death in 1976.
Harvey was born into money in 1886 in New York, he grew up in high society, speaking French before English and was treated to drawing lessons from curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The family traveled through Europe regularly to visit family and Harvey was there when World War I broke out, he began working as a liaison officer for the American forces.  After the war, Harvey returned home and stepped out of the family business, he wanted to pursue his own interests and that is when he created his legacy!
Having grown up riding horses, Harvey rode throughout Europe and America, he found passion in Fox Hunting in 1914 and went on to set an international fox hunting record for foxhunting on both sides of the Atlantic in a seventy-two hour period!
In 1929 he purchased an estate in Monkton, Maryland, right next to the Elkridge- Harford Hunt Club, where he spent hours riding.  He completed several additions onto the original house and by 1937 began work on creating the immaculate gardens you can visit today!

Your visit will start at The Visitor Center pictured below which served as the garage and carport when Harvey lived here. 

After you purchase the tickets for your tour, feel free to wander around the property.  My mom and I started with the back of the house and slowly made our way into some of the nearby gardens, since we only had an hour till our tour time.  As we made our way through the first of many archway's and stepped into the backyard, my heart skipped a beat....I just knew we were going to love this place!

It had everything you'd want in a backyard, a stretch of flat ground where a vintage white iron bistro set sat awaiting guests, two covered verandas, with seating and hanging plants, and small rooms at each end for playing cards and smoking cigars well into the evening.  Huge, old trees covered the house and yard in shade which was lovely as this particular day got up to almost 100 degrees!

But as I am always the planner, I made sure we came equipped with the essentials: a vintage parasol for each, a hand fan and a cold bottle of water.  We wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes without our survival kit;)

As we stepped off the veranda we began our journey into the gardens.  It was as if we were children again, chasing after the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland!  The gardens beckoned you, pulling you forward, their mystery and beauty whispering in your ear.
Stone steps and topiary peaks reminiscent of a castle guide you this way and that, you'll bend down and walk through hidden archways in the greenery and you'll find cherubs playing in fountains of glistening cool water.

Walk a little further down shaded pathways and you'll happen upon a croquet court where if you stop and listen, I swear you can hear the knocking of mallet on ball and the cheering of a small band of friends upon the breeze.

Harvey had discovered the art of topiary in England during the 1920's.  From his trips throughout Europe he envisioned the kind of garden he wanted and began work on making it a reality.  His grounds were to have two axes to allow for long stretched vistas, like those he saw in Italy, with garden "rooms" off each axis.  The axes meet at a central oval fountain, which was once Harvey's swimming pool in what is called The Great Bowl.  Here you'll see the Pink Garden. 

The Rose Garden, with the central swimming pool in the background...I gotta tell ya, it took everything we had not to jump right in!!!

The garden of Eden was just as beautiful as it's title with cool shaded areas where butterflies danced from bush to bush and birds flirted in the trees.  As we followed the path we came to a shaded area which was home to a scalloped edge lily pond and blooming hydrangeas.

Beyond Eden, was probably my favorite part of the visit, The Tivoli Teahouse!  Once the box office to the Tivoli Music Hall in London, Harvey rescued this beautiful little structure from being demolished and planted it too, among the flowers.  This house joined the countless other curiosities he brought over from England to add to the folly of his estate.  This little place just reopened to the public this past June after undergoing serious restoration, now you too can experience it, just like Harvey!

I imagined myself sitting with other ladies around the small tea table, enjoying a cup of blooming jasmine tea, wearing my best lace gloves, a small caplet perched atop my curls.  My light blue dress falling around my lower calves, my eyelet heels one crossed over the other.  I swear I'm from another time;)

As you enter the house look directly across the room and find the framed window named "Ever Changing Landscape".  As an Art History major I am in love with art, in almost every medium, and this truly delighted!  This gilded frame actually frames a window to the garden beyond, the view or "picture" shows the day's blue sky as well as many flowering tree's, leaning from the weight of their heavy blooms, fluttering in the breeze.  This captured my heart in a way I can't even begin to describe, I literally stood there, captivated.  I could live happily in that tiny room for the rest of my days! 

The view back towards the house from the tea house is beautiful, like a hidden oasis!

In the white garden you'll find more shade and many flowering trees and bushes bursting with white flowers and then you'll make your way into the sculpture garden.

And by sculpture, I don't necessarily mean heavy monuments to a faraway time, instead you'll find topiary in it's many shapes and sizes.  Everything from fish, to swans, to unicorns all live together in this magical place!

Alas it was time for our house tour and I was thrilled I was able to take pictures, up until recently, you couldn't, so this was a real treat!
It's important to note that in his later years, Harvey founded a non-profit organization called the Ladew Topiary Gardens, Inc which sole mission is to maintain and promote the house, gardens and facilities just as he left it, for public benefit and educational, scientific and cultural pursuits:)  Everything you see inside the house is from his personal collection, as he had it.  You'll walk the same rooms as he did and many other close personal friends of his, like Cole Porter, Charlie Chaplin, Clarke Gable and many members of European nobility!!!

The Dining Room!

The Sitting Room!

The Living Room!

The Smoking Room!

The Library!
The oval library was built for Harvey's oval desk which had room to seat two!  It's so big that it simply couldn't fit in his office, or drawing room.  When a friend asked what he was going to do, he replied, "Why not build a room around it?"  It is home to over 3,000 books which span art, architecture, biographies, French literature, gardening and travel editions.  He called it his "circulating library". 

Take a close look at the photo below and then at the one after it, my mom was the only one in our tour group to spot the hidden door in the bookcase!  For the groups enjoyment our tour guide opened it up for us to reveal a secret passageway out onto the covered veranda beyond, one of the ways Harvey would slip away during a party going on too long:)

After our tour we recharged at the cafe on the property.  We needed to sit, eat and drink lots of water before venturing back out into the gardens we hadn't yet explored.  Do try the BLT with added avocado or the chicken salad!  The cookies are excellent too, and everything is made in house from scratch!

These little dioramas were all over the property, inside the cafe, inside the house in several spots and I just became obsessed with them!  Apparently, Harvey was obsessed with them too, and collected them as he found them throughout his travels.  They are so cute!  Be sure to stop and check them out! 

After our re-charge it was back to the gardens!

Follow the stream down the hill and you will come to a Japanese Ship made of topiary!  Along the walk you'll enjoy the trickling sound of the water flow and the luscious scent of the flowers.  Leaning Japanese maples will greet you as well!

There is also a butterfly exhibit behind the house!

And another smaller, sitting garden, as you make your way back around toward the cafe:)

I couldn't resist a snap of this little dog topiary!

A spring House!

There is also a private residence on the property, and it is truly my dream house!  A modest house, with two window filled wings on either side, crawling ivy on the facade, flowering plants around the perimeter!  Truly a dream of a home:)

After your lovely afternoon you are going to be so inspired to spruce up your own home!  Stop into the B&B Antiques, located just down the road.  Shop owners Adrianne and Adriane have carefully curated their shop with items from local creatives, primitives, antiques, consignments and art!  This shop is filled with lovely goodies and lot's of fox hunting antiques and the owners are just as lovely and welcoming as their products!!!

After we got our Antique Fix we drove a little further and stopped at G.Beaumont Pottery!  This charming shop offers up some of the most beautiful pottery I've ever seen, in an array of beautiful, vibrant colors!  Vogue magazines editor-in-chief Anna Wintour thought so too, and has one of his mugs!  Talk about Star Quality!!!  I myself couldn't resist a beautiful red vase!

Owners Jerry and Janet welcome you into their shop like family!  They are there to tell you the story of their pieces and help you match the perfect piece to your personality and Jerry is a pro!  He has been making pottery since he was 10 years old, influenced highly by his mother Alice who took him to his first ceramic studio in Long Island, and his father was just as supportive, he helped him build a gas kiln in the backyard for his wares.  Love Family supporting Family!!! <3

So next time you have a day free and you're sipping your tea, with nothing but cleaning the house on the to-do list, skip the cleaning and go exploring!  You'll be glad you did!

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