I never quite understood topiary. The urge to shape shrubbery into animals just seems like a force fit to me. Just let those poor plants be! But I have to admit, the Hunt Scene is genius. And the shrubs look awfully happy to be portraying hounds. So maybe I should let it go.
Harvey Ladew started creating these gardens in 1929. He was self-taught and was one of the first American gardeners to incorporate "garden rooms". The result is 22 acres of themed gardens that go way beyond topiary. Before his death in 1976, he arranged for his home and the gardens to be preserved for the public. I loved watching my kids take turns deciding which places to explore: from the Tivoli Tea House to the Garden of Eden. But without a doubt their favorite was the koi pond at the far side of the Iris Garden.
For little ones, this trip requires a lot of walking. Everything is spread out, but manageable, even with a stroller. Picnics are permitted everywhere except the Great Bowl and the Hunt Scene, so bring a blanket and soak up that last little bit of summer.
3535 Jarrettsville Pike
Monkton, MD 21111