Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

Garden visits

The Vyne

From its medieval beginnings, its connections with Henry VIII, and as an intimate family home over the centuries the National Trust property four miles north of Basingstoke has intriguing places to explore inside and out. Set in an 18th century landscape, The Vyne also has an Edwardian-style summerhouse garden, and a restored walled garden which includes a glasshouse and vegetable plots with vegetables grown by gardeners from the charity Thrive, and which sends produce to the Tudor tea-room.

The Glade

The name captures the setting of this award-winning spring garden owned by Mary and Roger Angus, with terraced lawns, woodland walks through blossom trees, spring bulbs, wild anemones, primroses and bluebells, a large shrubbery with camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons, stream and large wildlife pond with primulas, marginals and waterlilies.

The Dower House

There are five and a half acres of grounds at this nursing home set in elegant surroundings two miles from Winchester. Visitors to the garden will find easy paths, numerous seats, good views, colourful perennials, shrubs and mature trees (including a large Indian bean tree and Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’). Mrs Judith Lywood, owner of The Dower House, takes a personal interest in the grounds and garden, as do the residents, many of whom have been keen gardeners.

South Lodge

This is an idyllic and peaceful English country garden set in two acres with stunning views of surrounding countryside in the historic village of Clearwell, Royal Forest of Dean. Formerly part of Clearwell Castle, the high castle walls provide a backdrop for large rambling roses, clematis, and honeysuckles. South Lodge, owned by Andrew and Jane MacBean, is an organic garden with a collection of trees, some rare. A large variety of perennials, annuals, grasses and shrubs fill the herbaceous borders providing year round colour and interest.

Snape Cottage

Snape Cottage has been opening for the NGS for a quarter of a century now, and is well known as the home of Snape Cottage Stake Supports, those most useful metal supports for plants growing in borders. Owned by Ian and Angela Whinfield, this is a mature country garden with an exceptional collection of hardy plants and bulbs, artistically arranged in informal cottage garden style, organically managed and clearly labelled. Specialities include snowdrops, hellebores, 'old' daffodils, pulmonarias, auriculas, herbs, followed by irises and geraniums.

Sidbury Manor

The Victorian manor house, owned by Sir John and Lady Cave, was built by the owner’s family in the 1870s and has 20 acres including an arboretum with many fine trees and shrubs and a number of champion trees. Sidbury Manor is set within the East Devon Area of Natural Beauty and is a mile north west of the village of Sidbury off the A375 between Sidmouth and Honiton. There are large walled gardens and areas devoted to magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons.

South Lodge and Coley Court

Visitors will find two contrasting gardens at Rose Cottage and Coley Court, five miles north of Wells. Coley Court, owned by  Mrs J Hill, is an early Jacobean house (not open) with a one-acre garden of stone wall, the back drop to a collection of spring bulbs, and a further acre of old mixed orchard. Rose Cottage, owned by Bev and Jenny Cruse, is a one-acre hillside cottage garden with panoramic views over the Chew Valley. An award winner in Bath in Bloom, the garden is carpeted with primroses, bulbs and hellebores in spring, and in summer with roses and hardy geraniums.


Close to the Hayling Billy coastal trail, this is a bluebell wood and spring-flowering garden of two and a half acres surrounded by fields and near the sea, protected from sea winds by a multi-barrier hedge. There are rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and many other shrubs, and a  woodland walk to  a full-size tree house. Other features of the garden owned by Mr and Mrs Steven Schrier include a pond, bog garden, house plants, summerhouse, conservatory and many places to sit outside and under cover.

Kia-Ora Farm and Gardens

A charming ten-acre garden popular with visitors, full of surprises and something new to see every year. With a reputation for very good home made teas and cream teas, the garden owned by Mrs M B Disney has lawns, lakes, ponds and plenty of interest on the water features with swans, ducks and other wildlife. There are mature trees, azaleas and rhododendrons, heathers, roses later on, herbaceous borders and rockeries. There’s something for everyone, as apart from a nursery avenue there’s also novelty crazy golf to enjoy.

Ivy House Garden

An unusual and challenging half-acre garden nine miles north of Dorchester, owned by Bridget Bowen, is set on a steep hillside, with fine views. It is a wildlife-friendly garden run on organic lines with plants to attract bees and other insects, with mixed borders, ponds, a propagating area, vegetable garden, fruit cage, greenhouses and polytunnel, chickens and bees, and a nearby allotment.


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