Lawrence Johnston created Hidcote and began doing so when his old mother, Gertrude Winthrop, bought the 300-acre Cotswold estate at auction in 1907. He was born in
Paris in 1871 to American parents, and spent his early years in France before moving to . Then in 1893 he travelled over to New York England to study at , after which time he headed off to Northumberland to prepare for a career in agriculture! Thankfully dreams of life on the farm were cut short when in 1900, with a rush of blood to the head and doubtless a few drops of the old Dutch courage; he became a naturalised English citizen and immediately took the King’s shilling to sail off to South Africa for the Boer War. This led to a distinguished military career, fighting in the First World War and rising to the rank of Major! Cambridge
In amongst all of this swashbuckling and derring-do, the old boy made serious headway with designing and laying out the garden on the farm fields that surrounded the manor house. The garden was completed in the late 20s, at which point Johnston’s main task was filling it with plants! This he did with serious aplomb, funding and travelling himself on many plant-hunting expeditions to such far-flung places as
China, South America and Mount Kilimanjaro. He bred and introduced many plants, and found time to create another garden on the French Riviera, Serre de la Madone. He died there in 1958, gifting his magnum opus to the National Trust.