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America's finest topiary garden?

Topiary art requires adaptable shrubs, plenty of gently watered acreage, and many years of cultivation--as well as a certain exuberant eccentricity on the part of the gardener. The West, with its arid landscape and more youthful traditions, has lacked all, perhaps, but the latter ingredient, and Westerners must look in Europe or the East to see highly developed topiary gardens.

In the green heart of northern Maryland's hunt country, such a garden has recently been opened to the public. Here in 1929 a wealthy New York Bachelor named Harvey Ladew acquired a large old farm that he would, over the years, transform into a highly expressive personal estate.

Ladew traveled widely, and was full of imaginative conviction, though lacking professional training. When he liked what he saw, he either bought it and shipped it home or created some replication. The result is an entertainingly eclectic and sometimes quite beautiful manor. Within it, a single decorative theme--the fox hunt--is celebrated through an amazing collection of periods and styles.

Surrounding the house are more than 20 acres of gardens designed by Ladew, many of them given over to topiary. The Garden Club of America has called this the finest such garden in the country. There are living sculptures of such subjects as unicorns, swans, a Chinese junk, Churchill's hat.

Ladew Topiary Gardens (3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, Md. 21111) are open mid-April To October 31 from 10 to 4 Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 Sunday. The house is open Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday during garden hours, at other times by appointment; telephone (301) 557-9466.

It's a very manageable half-day outing from Baltimore or a 65-mile drive from Washington, D.C. Picnic tables are provided, there's a tearoom, and a gift shop sells small topiaries. From the Baltimore Beltway (Interstate 695), take exit 27N and continue 14 miles north on State 146.

Garden admission is $2.50 for adults, $2 for seniors and students, 50 cents for children; for both house and garden, it's $4, $3, and $1.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Ladew Topiary Gardens, Monkton, Md.
Date:Apr 1, 1985
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