Ladew Topiary Gardens
Ordinarily I write about places I’ve been to. But these are not ordinary times, and until last week I never heard of Harvey Ladew, much less his world-class topiary gardens. So this is about a day trip I intend to make very soon.
"He played piano with Cole Porter. He rode horseback in the Hollywood Hills with Clark Gable. He partied with Elsa Maxwell. He ate snails with the French writer Colette, in bed. It was all, he often said, "perfectly delightful." Few more colorful figures embellish American cultural history than the late Harvey S. Ladew, wealthy socialite, fox hunter, artist, traveler, and - at his country estate outside Baltimore - creator of the nation's most admired topiary garden.”
In 1929, when he was in his early 40s, Ladew purchased a 200-acre property in Monkton, Maryland called Pleasant Valley Farm to use as a fox hunting preserve. Ladew turned a ramshackle residence with a few lilac bushes into a comfortable home, adding wings to enlarge the interior and renovating the outbuildings before enlisting the help of local farmers to create the lavish gardens.
Today, there’s a butterfly meadow, sculpture garden, freshwater marsh and polo field.