Harvey Ladew purchased the 200+ acre Pleasant Valley Farm from the Scarff family in November 1929, which conveniently bordered The Elkridge- Harford Hunt Club. The old white farmhouse was in primitive condition- it had neither heat, electricity nor plumbing. Ladew said of his “new” house – “It was in shambles and the only garden consisted of a couple of old lilac bushes.” During the 1930s Ladew added wings to the house and renovated outbuildings before beginning work on the gardens. Then, with the help of local farmers, Ladew carved 22 acres of gardens out of fields previously used for crops and livestock and set to work transforming Pleasant Valley Farm into “the most outstanding topiary garden in America,” as described by the Garden Club of America.
Late in life, Ladew determined to find a way of preserving his creation for all to enjoy. The result is Ladew Topiary Gardens, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is “to maintain and promote the gardens, house and facilities in keeping with the creative spirit of Harvey S. Ladew for the public benefit and for educational, scientific and cultural pursuits.”
This information is taken from the history of Ladew Gardens on their Website. The gardens that Harvey Ladew designed are staggeringly beautiful. It’s difficult to imagine that a single man created such a vastly complex garden. There are concerts all summer and each garden is dedicated to a color through the seasons.