Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

Garden visits


Enjoy several distinctive walled gardens at the home of John Makepeace, the furniture designer and maker, and his wife Jennie. There are rolling lawns, with sculpture and giant topiary around the house, John’s inspirational grasses garden, and Jennie’s riotous potager with cleft oak fruit cage. There’s also a glasshouse, straw bale studio, and geese in the orchard.

Brocton Cottage

A new opening for the National Gardens Scheme this year, Brocton Cottage has 1.3 acres recently recovered from neglect, combining established planting with newly developed areas. Mrs Naomi Hindley’s garden has a new orchard, woodland, ponds and a productive area linked to established herbaceous borders and shrubberies, with views of the Devon countryside.

Holy Trinity Environmental Garden, Weymouth

This inspiring award-winning school wildlife garden started in 2008 with the donation of a winning RHS Hampton Court Show garden. There are also children’s raised beds, a large wildlife pond, a World War II garden with a genuine Anderson shelter, a small orchard and bird garden. Dorset’s largest living willow classroom which seats 30 is now well established and a recently installed composting toilet complements the garden. There’s a butterfly hunt for children. 

25 Bowling Green Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Tucked away on the edge of Cirencester this is a hidden gem of a garden owned by Fr John and Susan Beck, with winding walkways and borders packed with a mixture of more than 400 varieties of hemerocallis, grasses, clematis, roses and hostas, using the maximum space in a small area. Other features include a bridge, three small pools and aqueduct, and there are some seats for visitors to rest on for a while, plus a summerhouse.

Budleigh Salterton Gardens and Sea Gardens

Another new opening for the NGS this season, the Sea Gardens lie on a cliff top along the Jurassic Coastal Path above the beach looking towards mouth of the River Otter and on to Lyme Bay. The gardens are planted to tolerate strong winds and sea spray in winter and hot dry conditions in summer. The Sea Gardens are on the opposite side of the road from the houses, creating a quillet (strips of land together forming a larger plot). Upper Westcott with many diverse herbaceous borders is situated behind the 18th green of East Devon Golf Club.

Holcombe Court Gardens, Holcombe Rogus, near Wellington, Devon

Hidden away behind its walls are the sweeping seven acres of gardens of this Grade-I listed Tudor manor house on the Devon/Somerset border and next to the village church. The gardens are resplendent with herbaceous borders, trout ponds and a Victorian rockery, a restored and recreated woodland garden and vegetable parterre, and there’s an apple orchard and espaliers in the 18th century walled garden. 

Open for Hospiscare: Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September, 11am –5pm. Admission: £4.50. Tea and cakes available.

Lydeard House, Bishops Lydeard near Taunton

Mr and Mrs Colin Wilkins moved into Lydeard House in 1999 and began a major restoration programme in the four-acre garden over more than a decade. The silted-up lake was dredged revealing the 18th century retaining walls complemented by the two bridges; a silt trap was built, incorporated in the dredged canal, and the adjoining pergola was restored with new planting of Victorian roses. A small woodland garden was cleared, followed by a walled veg garden, a Chinoiserie garden inspired by a reference in 1788 to a Chinese Gate in the grounds, and the Temple Folly.

Yews Farm, Martock, Somerset

There’s a theatrical feel to the planting in the large walled garden at Yews Farm with outsized plants in a jungle garden. Sculptural planting has been chosen for height, shape, leaf and texture. There’s a self-seeded gravel garden, a box and bay ball border, espalier apples, eclectic cloud pruning, and much block planting. Yews Farm also has a working organic kitchen garden, hens, pigs, an orchard and an active cider barn. Owners Louise and Fergus Dowding grow the Martock broad bean, the only known survivor of a medieval variety of broad bean.

Blicks Hill House, Malmesbury, Wiltshire

Alan and Valerie Trotman’s garden on a one-acre stepped and sloping site has mature trees providing a backdrop to the colourful beds and borders created since 2004 for year-round interest. A pergola leads to a woodland glade, while a water feature and stream has been constructed in green slate; there are hanging baskets, tubs and bedding plants to add extra impact. This is a plantsman’s garden containing many unusual and special plants.

Old Droxford Station, Soberton near Southampton

Jo and Tony Williams’ garden is a sympathetically restored railway station with a fascinating history: Winston Churchill was based in a train here immediately before D Day in June 1944 where he met General De Gaulle and other senior leaders. The garden was replanted from 2010 but has many established specimen trees including an Indian bean tree and Metasequoia. A new orchard was planted in 2009 and a kitchen garden using railway sleeper raised beds. The former track and adjacent paddocks are an established wild flower garden.


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