Ladew Topiary Gardens

Named One of the Top 5 Gardens
in North America

Picture of trimming topiary at Ladew Gardens

What is Topiary?

(and other frequently asked questions, we’d be happy to answer)


To • pi • ar • y (tö’pi-er’i), adj. [ L. topiarius, concerning an ornamental garden < topia (opera),
ornamental gardening < Gr, topos, place], designating or of the art of trimming and training shrubs or
trees into unnatural ornamental shapes. n. [ pl. TOPIARIES (-iz)], 1. Topiary art or work. 2. A topiary garden. 

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How long do the tours take?
House tours are approximately 45 minutes in length. The 22-acre Gardens can be toured in 1 hour, more or less, according to the visitor’s preference. The Nature Walk takes about 45 minutes.

When are the house tours?
House tours are at 11:00, 12:00, 2:00 & 3:00 Monday through Friday and every half-hour on weekends from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm.

Are the house and gardens handicapped-accessible?
The house is equipped with a ramp for limited wheelchair access. The Gardens are partially accessible to wheelchairs. Ladew has one wheelchair available and it can be arranged with 5 days advance notice.
Please call (410) 557-9570.

What is the best time of year to see the most blooms?
The spring bloom of tulips, azaleas, shrubs and flowering trees is the most colorful, usually during the first two weeks in May. However, the gardens are filled with perennials, shrubs and trees that bloom throughout the seasons. June is peak for the roses and many of the perennials are in bloom during July. The fall is also beautiful with late season perennials, annuals and colorful deciduous trees. Please see our What’s Blooming Guide for more details.

What was Mr. Ladew’s profession?
Mr. Ladew’s inheritance came from his father’s leather belting business in New York. Although he
never had to work for a living, he was an avid gardener, huntsman, traveler, writer and artist.

How large are the gardens and the property?
The Garden is 22-acres of flowers, topiary and lawn. The Nature Walk weaves through approximately
80 acres of field, forest and wetland. The entire property is 250 acres.

How often does the topiary have to be trimmed?
The trimming starts at the end of June and continues until the hemlocks are trimmed in late summer.
Hemlock topiary are trimmed only once a year to ensure the long-term health of the hedges.

How many gardeners work at Ladew?
There are 4 full-time, year-round gardeners plus seasonal staff.

When did Mr. Ladew die?
Mr. Ladew was born in 1887 and died in 1976 at the age of 89.

What kinds of birds live in the birdhouses?
There are different birdhouses in the Gardens. The large English-style structures near the house
and in the Yellow Garden are dovecotes. The birdhouse in the wildflower meadow is a purple martin house.

Who owns the Gardens?
Late in life, Mr. Ladew determined to find a way of preserving his creation for all to enjoy. He organized a group of family, friends and neighbors to serve as board members of his foundation. 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.”

How is Ladew Gardens financed?
In addition to yearly fundraisers that benefit specific projects such as the Iris Garden restoration, other important revenue comes from membership, admissions, contributions and events. Approximately 30,000 visitors enjoy the manor house, gardens and nature walk each year and 3,500 members support Ladew Gardens. Everyone is welcome to join!


Image 1 copyright Robert Noonan. Image 4 copyright Erik Kvalsvik.