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This is the fourth installment of multiple reports from the week-long educational trip some of our team members took in the summer of 2022.

I remember the feeling of absolute joy and excitement when my parents took me to Walt Disney World when I was a young kid; around every bend was a different ride, a life-size character, and a thousand other kids who were as stoked as me. Well now I’m a horticulturist in my mid-thirties and my interests have changed. My new Disney World is Hidcote Garden in Chipping Campden, England and I just came back from an epic tour.

The amount of care and effort that each gardener takes with this garden is clearly represented. The yew and boxwood hedges were clipped into tight geometric forms providing structure and intrigue while the perennial gardens brought incredible color and texture to the grey English sky. At one moment I was surrounded and engulfed by an herbaceous “room” and in the next I was meandering through a planted stream bed that seemed too natural to be designed. I made a point to inspect the soil throughout the gardens as well and it was full of organic matter and pore space which helped explain why the plants grew so well.

As a gardener it is so important to see other gardens in order to get inspired and also determine how different gardeners deal with similar challenges. Hidcote helped me to understand how we can improve our soil, cultural practices, and plant selections. For example, prioritizing using the right soil, additives, and mulches can help to bring more organic matter to our heavy clay soils. This should ultimately help plants withstand the stresses of our area including pest pressure, extreme heat and humidity, and drought. It also raised the bar for me of what is possible with pruning techniques and plant combinations. I am so happy to work for a company that understands the value of this experience and I believe I will be a better gardener and manager for it.

I encourage any gardener or outdoor enthusiast to visit this garden if traveling through England. It is only an hour or so outside of London and the entry fee is well worth it. For those who live in Charlottesville, this area is very similar to our “hunt country” and may inspire you in other ways as well. Happy gardening everyone!

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