Fall Day at Ladew Topiary Gardens

It is still warm during the day, but a little nippy at night, when I decided to visit Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, MD, to see some colorful fall foliage and berries. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that flowers were still cranking out blooms and that caterpillars in the Butterfly House were still making chrysalises.  In the Butterfly House, I was treated to a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar turning a bright orange color prior to shedding his skin and forming a chrysalis (the stage forming a butterfly).

The spice bush swallowtail caterpillar which is normally lime green, turns bright orange right before making its chrysalis
Spice bush swallowtail caterpillar

Ladew Topiary Gardens, in  Maryland, is a world class garden, that I am fortunate to have in my backyard. Visiting frequently to experience the events, classes, and workshops, gives me an opportunity to see the gardens in every season and I am never disappointed.

Probably the most famous topiary at Ladew is the The Foxhunt scene
Hounds chasing the fox

A colorful figure, the late Harvey S. Ladew (1887-1976) was a  world traveler, artist, and the creator of an extraordinary garden, Ladew Topiary Gardens. Born into privilege in New York City, Ladew was treated to a world class education. It was during Mr. Ladew’s early travels that he became inspired by the gardens of Europe, and in the early 1920’s, he discovered the art of topiary in England when he saw a clipped hunt scene atop a hedge in England.

The fox hunting environment of the Maryland countryside attracted Harvey Ladew where he purchased the 200+ acre Pleasant Valley Farm in Baltimore County, not far from where I live. The old white farmhouse was in primitive condition – it had neither heat, electricity nor plumbing, and the garden consisted of some old lilac bushes.

The old white farm house is surrounded by a glorious meadow
Goldenrod and asters in the meadow

After renovating the house,  Mr Ladew turned his attention to the farm fields surrounding his estate, into 22 acres of exquisitely designed gardens. From his trips to England and Italy, he knew what sort of garden he wanted – lots of clipped topiaries and garden “rooms”, a revolutionary idea at the time.

Callicarpa’s white berries shine in the sun
The Pink Garden Room was awash with pink Japanese Anemones
Japanese Anemones are the queen of the fall garden
The Butterfly House is surrounded by meadow
The fall containers were fabulous
Wow! I love this one!
Antique Plant Stand

He designed topiaries depicting a fox and hounds, a  Chinese Junk with sails, swans, and a giraffe, among others.

Trimming the hedges is a constant ongoing task
Chinese Junk in Topiary

Ladew is open for business and the day I visited, there were a fair amount of people, but nothing alarming and crowded. You are asked to wear masks in any congested areas, but for almost the entire time, I never needed to wear one.

Topiaries dot the landscape
Asters, an American native that attracts pollinators galore,  were everywhere!
The Cottage Garden was a glorious fall blooming extravaganza
Ladew Cafe is closed for now, but you can pick up a picnic tote, from Classic Catering, to enjoy on the grounds

Garden Glow, which I have attended and presented at will be virtual this year. My Monkton Garden Club, created a Garden Lady last year out of pumpkins and floral arrangements that was showcased at Garden Glow. A different experience this year with COVID,  I am anxious to see what people come up with! This year  Ladew says  – “It’s Your Carving. Ladew is Your Garden. You are the Glow.” Love this! Some past creations:

Pumpkins dotting the field with the fox and hound topiaries before dark
Our ‘Garden Lady’ Scarecrow in daylight
‘Garden Lady’ lit up

Owl family

Creative umbrella scene

For a delightful fall visit, go to Ladew Gardens to check out their visiting hours and other virtual events.


7 Replies to “Fall Day at Ladew Topiary Gardens”

  1. Great post Claire. How fortunate you are to be able to visit this garden often. My sister took me there once and we had such a wonderful day inspired by the plantings. Irises were in bloom then. It would be fun to visit in all seasons. Thanks for sharing your time there.

  2. Thanks for sharing your visit. I live in Maryland and have never been to Ladew garden, but have wanted to visit. Now I will definitely go!

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