Anyone with a car, a friend with a car, or access to a Zipcar can explore an outdoor version of Alice’s Wonderland just north of Baltimore.

The Ladew Topiary Gardens is one of the hidden delights of the Baltimore area. During any season of the year, you can relax as you walk through the many gardens; some hidden, some theme-based. The historic house too is intriguing, as well as the many small outbuildings. Bring a lunch and enjoy a picnic, or try the café.  Plus they have a great gift shop.

Check out their online photo gallery, and be sure to look at the slide show of the gardens through the seasons.

Harvey Ladew (1887-1976) was a wealthy socialite, fox hunter, artist and traveler, according to his biography in the Sheridan Libraries collection.  In fact, his life reads like fiction – globe-trotting and hobnobbing with celebrities and artists, in several languages.

Photo of Ladew Gardens“He played piano with Cole Porter. He rode horseback in the Hollywood Hills with Clark Gable. He partied with Elsa Maxwell. He ate snails with the French writer Colette, in bed.” In addition, he collaborated with Billy Baldwin (dean of American interior design), was the houseguest of the maharajah of Kapurthala, took a camel caravan across Arabia (with help from his good friend T. E. Lawrence), “matched wits with Edna Ferber, Noël Coward, Beatrice Lillie, and Dorothy Parker (in English) and with Jean Cocteau and Colette (in French), hunted fox in America, England, Ireland, and Italy, and (with Charlie Chaplin) saw off Gertrude Lawrence as she sailed from New York.”

Whew. If he found time for all THAT, you can find time to check out Ladew’s world-famous gardens – waiting for you to discover them. The perfect place to get away from the summer heat of Baltimore and day-to-day routine. For a little while anyway.


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