'Mystery donor' gives trust £1.6 million for garden

National Trust receives anonymous donation for restoration at Hidcote Manor Garden

A mystery donor has given the National Trust £1.6 million to restore Hidcote Manor Garden in Gloucestershire. Work will begin this month on a £3.2 million project, match-funded by the trust to transform the 1930s garden. The garden’s creator, US plantsman Major Lawrence Johnston, donated it in 1948. The work will include converting offices into a horticulture centre of excellence to educate trust careership students, with housing for two of them. The electricity supply will be extended throughout the garden. The arts and crafts-influenced outdoor rooms will also be restored. The donor is a keen horticulturist, but little else is known about him. He gave £250,000 in 1999 to start work on the garden and has been working with the trust on a restoration plan ever since. Trust representative Alex Brannen said: “Because the trust did not have an endowment when it was gifted the garden it was not able to do the work to restore it to its 1930s glory.” The garden attracts 130,000 visitors a year and will be self-financing once work is finished. The trust will employ two new gardeners for the project, which is planned to finish in 2011. The first tasks are restoring the theatre lawn steps, replanting the alpine terrace and restoring the bulb slope. Daily Telegraph garden writer Stephen Lacey has written Gardens of the National Trust. It will be published in October and costs £30.

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