*This article originally appeared online at Horse & Style Magazine.*
Not too far from my farm is Ladew Topiary Gardens. I have visited multiple times, but I really enjoyed the private tour I received last October on behalf of Horse & Style Magazine. My husband, James, took all of the pictures. Below is a brief history about the owner, the late Harvey Ladew. I will probably do multiple posts in order to share the many photos!
Nestled deep into the heart of Maryland horse country lies Ladew Topiary Gardens, the estate of the late foxhunter and cultural icon, Harvey S. Ladew. Ladew purchased the 200+ acre Monkton, Maryland property, which he called, “Pleasant Valley Farm,” because it bordered the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club, of which he became a member.
A quick look around Ladew’s manor house and surrounding property and it’s clear his life revolved around his two passions, gardening and foxhunting. Ladew transformed 22 acres into 20 separately themed gardens, turning Pleasant Valley Farm into, “the most outstanding topiary garden in America,” according to the Garden Club of America. The first garden is the Hunt Scene, in which bushes sculpted into two foxhunters, accompanied by their hounds, gallop over fences in pursuit of the fox! It is truly a masterpiece.
Ladew’s house is a horse lover’s dream as each room is a treasure trove of equestrian style and foxhunting décor and artifacts. Hunting trophies (fox tails, etc.) hang next to his portrait, and English and French hunting horns can be found displayed in the foyer. His red hunt coat, along with riding boots and hat, reside in his bedroom, where it looks as if he may walk through the door at any moment, preparing to dress to ‘ride to hounds.’
No detail was too small for Ladew. A hunt scene is shown in a stained glass window above a door, and shadow boxes, which he made himself, are found in the library, surrounded by thousands of books. Another foxhunting scene, as well as fox heads, are carved into the marble fireplace mantel. Other equestrian trimmings which accent the house are tea sets, stirrup cups, and miniature horses modeled after his favorite personal mounts.
Ladew traveled around the world foxhunting with numerous clubs. After serving in World War I, he began a 20 year tradition of spending every winter foxhunting in England. His hunt journal lies open on a desk in the living room, displaying notes about his time riding stateside with the Piedmont, Orange County, and Middleburg Hunts in Virginia.
With a love of the outdoors, sporting life, and, above all, foxhunting, Harvey Ladew’s home is the definition of classic, English equestrian style.