the grove - david hicks

it's time i got into the gardens of england.

on our first day of garden touring the first garden we saw was highgrove, prince charles' private home and garden.  no cameras were allowed so i can't share any pictures.
it was unbelievably beautiful.  hard to put into words really...after we finished touring it we were treated to a beautiful champagne tea and i wondered how any of the gardens left on the tour could possibly measure up to highgrove.

and then later on that cold, dark and rainy afternoon we pulled into The Grove, the private garden of david nightingale hicks.  we were all tired and i don't think any of us were prepared for what we were about to see.

his son ashley gave us the tour.
hands down the best garden tour guide ever.  he was so gracious, funny and had no problem talking about his dysfunctional father's eccentricities.
it is those eccentricities that helped create this amazing garden.
he was obsessed with sight lines.  so much so that he often bought or tried to buy adjoining properties in order to improve his sight lines.
the garden is a series of rooms that rely on structure and balance and it is amazing.

this is actually the back of the house.
it was rainy, cold and dreary but lady pamela was snug inside that window knitting.

a shot looking back at the house.

...and to the side.

from the house looking at the first sight line of many to come.

the garden is dotted with incredibly old and gorgeous statuary.

just look at those brick walls!

i thought this was such a fabulous idea for hiding the hose.
i hope to put together a post compiling all the small but effective ideas that we can all use in our gardens.  this would be one of them.

the mowing lines help the sight lines too.

this area of the garden is just spectacular.
pictures do not do it justice.

the side of the house facing the pool.
ashley invited us up to the patio to look inside and see his dad's famous wallpaper and carpet.

ashley added on this part of the house for his office.
adore the black against the green.

if you have a few minutes take a look at this clip
you see the garden in the winter and you can see the good bones it has.

i feel so incredibly lucky to have seen this garden in person.

i hope you enjoy it.


  1. Oh Janet! How stupendous!!!! I love a good sight line and David Hicks certainly did them right!!! I am in absolute heaven looking at these - wish I had such a large plot of land (though I am incapable of that kind of order!) many thanks!

  2. OH......MY......GOODNESS!!!! I love, love, love English gardens! Thank you so much for this wonderful post!!!

  3. Love all the hedges and green lawns. So formal and grand.
    Your garden travels make me yearn to go abroad Janet!
    I watched a special on Highgove on PBS it was amazing. You might be able to find it and watch it. Was about a year ago.

  4. Wasn't Ashley hysterical, I loved his quirky & irreverant style! Remember just how bleak the weather was & how we'd been on that bus for hours....was like a fantasy gardenland once we finally arrived. Am day dreaming of a plethora of topiary box in my Hobart garden.....and maybe a you think a moat might be just too much?! How are your garden ideas and plans materialising? Rx

    1. romy i have not done anything to my garden yet. just looking at these photos though get me excited to do things. i really should wait til fall b/c it's hard to plant in this heat. a moat may be pushing it. ;)

  5. Will put you next to 'professional' garden photographers. Your choices of framing, axis are wise.

    The grass/meadow/mowing in Europe is far different than USA. They never had cheap oil.

    The hose reel? There is no element left undone in the best historic gardens. NONE.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  6. Such stunning photos!! I absolutely love getting to see your trip through these incredible photos. I agree, you are an amazing photographer!

    Thank you so much for doing this. For those of us who want to travel and can't right now, this is the next best thing.

  7. Hi JANET!!!! I loved this garden- and I don't think people realise how hard it is to get a garden shot free of people!!! Well done! Remember after this day I decided I needed Provisions for the bus??

    I keep thinking of you looking round Highgrove and thinking about Diana and saying "I would have made it work!!" Ha!

    Both those gardens and the experiences were magical weren't they? Plus there's the nice link with Ashley's maternal grandfather being Charles's favourite uncle and all etc.

    I wish I could do it all over again!! It was just so interesting and inspiring.

    Love the travel posts xxxxx

    1. yes the whole thing was incredible. still can't believe all we saw. i still stand by my statement re diana and i'll never forget the provisions. :)

    2. "I would have made it work!!" lol! Love it!

  8. Superb! Your photos really capture the sight lines that are such an integral part of the garden. Ashley Hicks was hilarious, but informative and gracious. What a wonderful reminder of the day. Paula x

    1. hello paula, he was indeed gracious and so funny at the same time! missing it all.

  9. Gorgeous!! I bet you are still pinching yourself that you were standing right there in that amazing garden. Love the boxwoods. Wonder how large of a staff it takes to keep everything so perfect;)? I do not fantasize about a maid, or cook, a butler, a fancy car....but rather garden staff;) Can't wait for the details post on things we can all incorporate into the garden. As Tara says... garden and be well!

    1. i'm with you joan re help in the garden. i think the number 8 was mentioned in re to the people needed to keep everything tidy. 8!

  10. As I scrolled through your photos I was almost speechless - just kept saying, "wow" to myself. If the garden looks that incredible in pictures, I can only imagine what it looks like in person! I saw a couple things I want to copy, I'm looking forward to your post on ideas such as the hose "box". Thanks for sharing your delightful trip with us.


  11. well written but please use capital letters when appropriate. It was driving me insane reading i instead of I.

  12. Certainly got the sight lines right...they're perfection. So are your photos, so crisp and clear, sorry to ask again, but what camera did you use?
    Thank you.

    1. ooops so sorry linda, i apologize for not answering. i used a canon powershot a2300. i got it at target on sale with a giftcard i had. it's not very expensive at all. i'm really surprised at the quality of pictures too. thanks for asking!

    2. All your pictures are beautiful, and thank you for the reply.

  13. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos and all of the rest of your trip! I am enjoying it vicariously!

  14. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos and all of the rest of your trip! I am enjoying it vicariously!

  15. It seems so strange to see such typically English gardens on your blog! You've captured our great gardens beautifully and glad to see that you also captured some traditional British weather, too! Lovely to see you back, I've missed you. xxx

  16. Wonderful photos--thanks-- and the clip!! What discipline!!! I giggled that my garden would give him nightmares, what with color visible from the house and nearly every straight line messed up with something. Would love to go.

  17. You are not kidding when you say sight lines. Wow, really amazing Janet. You ARE so lucky to have gotten to see these gardens in cool!

  18. I enjoyed this post. I've seen a lot of formal and informal gardens in my time and I
    always come away with thoughts about sight lines. Something speaks to me about order, and with order, calm; all in its place. A surprise, concise, compact "spot" like a light at the end of a tunnel, but it's a garden fountain at the end of a quiet, crushed shell path; hard to describe. I love coming around a corner and seeing a bench, or a statue; its own little special place...the eye trained down a alley of trees to a urn at the end on a pedestal.

    Your photos really are beautiful; good camera, good shooter! I was hoping you'd give us a synopsis at some point on garden tips based on what you saw and what you can reasonably/feasibly incorporate here at home back in the States.

  19. Gorgeous and so jealous! I must talk to you before I plan my trip to Europe - you have the inside track! Loved all these pics!

  20. I used to live just 10 or so miles from The Grove, but that was before I learned about David Hicks and his gardens. I went back last autumn to introduce my daughter to our old friends there, and a dear friend and I took a walk in the surrounding countryside and skirted the gardens at The Grove on the public footpaths. We finished up at the local pub (formerly Michelin starred) for lunch. One of the most gorgeous days of my life. If I ever find my self fabulously independently wealthy I will be moving to that beautiful corner of Oxfordshire...


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