Thank heaven for the eccentric rich who leave their accomplishments in trust for us to share. Ladew Topiary is such a trust and an extraordinary work of art. The whole of it was designed and built through one man’s effort and the assistance of only two gardeners. As one of the top 5 gardens in the US, it should be a destination for many and yet, it goes largely unknown outside gardening circles.
In part, this is due to the deliberately rural location of the gardens. Mr. Ladew loved fox hunting and so chose countryside suited to his horses and hounds. A café now occupies the stables and yet they have retained the stalls. It is worth a look inside.
This Ladew house (he had several, including NYC and Florida) is dedicated to the sport of hunting. The décor includes horse art from his travels around the world, dinner china with hunting scenes, stained glass windows imported from England, Persian horse prints, Chinese porcelain horses, oil paintings and a settee depicting hunting scenes in petit point. As interesting as the house is, the sometimes whimsical topiary is the star. And yes, that too includes horses and hounds in a one of a kind topiary of a fox hunt with two riders hurtling fences, a pack of hounds and a clever fox far in the lead.
The grounds are inviting. Strolling seems the proper pace for wandering in the woodland trail, the pond trail and each of the themed gardens and hidden spaces. Even a gray, early October day was enjoyable. Spring beckons. Returning is certain.