Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west

Garden visits

Stretton-on-Fosse Gardens, Stretton-on-Fosse, Warwickshire

Two gardens in the centre of this village have combined forces for two openings for the NGS this year. Court House next to the church is a continually evolving, four-acre garden with year-round interest and colour; with extensive and varied spring bulbs, herbaceous borders,a fernery, and a recently redesigned and restored walled kitchen garden. There’s also a rose garden, a newly planted winter garden, a pond area and paddocks which are gradually being established with wild flowers.

The Old Chequer, Draycott, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire

A cottage garden, created by the owner, set in two acres of old orchard with original ridge and furrow. At the garden of The Old Chequer there’s an emphasis on spring planting but still maintaining year-round interest, with herbaceous borders, shrubs, a croquet lawn, unusual plants, alpines and dry gravel borders and a kitchen garden with a soft fruit growing area.

Walbury, Lower Froyle, Alton, Hampshire

This one third of an acre garden owned by Ernie and Brenda Milam is divided into three sections, each with a cottage garden atmosphere in different styles, packed with plants in colour-themed borders, many of them unusual. There are water features, an alpine house and fern walk. Early spring flowers are followed in late April by tulips and honesty lighting up the garden, while in early summer there are hardy geraniums, peonies, oriental poppies alliums and Siberian irises.

Cleave House, Sticklepath, Devon

A new opening for the National Gardens Scheme this year, Cleave House is just over three miles from Okehampton and is home to Ann and Roger Bowden. They have the national collection of hostas that has been featured on television and in the national press, and visitors can see not only the diversity of these splendid plants but also see how they are complemented by bamboos, ferns and tree ferns, trees and shrubs.

Wayford Manor, Wayford, Crewkerne, Somerset

The mainly Elizabethan manor (not open) mentioned in the 17th century for its ‘fair and pleasant’ garden was redesigned by Harold Peto in 1902. Its formal terraces with yew hedges and topiary have fine views over west Dorset. Steps lead down between spring-fed ponds past mature and new plantings of magnolia, rhododendron, maples, cornus and, in season, spring bulbs, cyclamen, giant echium. There are also primula candelabra, arum lily, and gunnera around the lower ponds.

Elworthy Cottage, Elworthy, near Wiveliscombe, Somerset

Mike and Jenny Spiller’s one acre plantsman’s garden is in a tranquil country setting, three miles from Wiveliscombe and 12 miles north of Taunton, planted to encourage birds, bees and butterflies. There are island beds, scented plants, clematis, unusual perennials and ornamental trees and shrubs giving year round interest. In spring there are more than 200 varieties of snowdrops, also pulmonarias and hellebores. A living willow screen, stone ex -privy and pigsty complete the rustic scene. Visitors can also see and buy the varied plants in the adjoining nursery.

Little Cliff, Lyme Regis Dorset

Another new opening for the NGS this year, Little Cliff, hidden on the outskirts of Lyme Regis is a special garden. Mrs Debbie Bell’s garden faces south overlooking wonderful views across the bay and out to sea. The garden is made up of a series of rooms, starting with abundant herbaceous borders, and a pretty pond at the top. Through a beech hedge the garden takes you past many flowering specimen trees including a beautiful fox glove tree (Paulownia), cornus and flowering cherries. Beyond this is a white garden and a vegetable parterre.

24 Carlton Road North, Weymouth, Dorset

Anne Mellars and Rob Tracey’s garden is on several levels. Steps and narrow sloping paths lead to beds and borders overflowing with trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, and unusual plants including exotics in interesting combinations. Four raised beds for vegetables are divided by narrow gravel paths in the part-walled front garden. A central pergola is covered with grape vines. Roses, bulbs and grasses fill the surrounding beds. The long back garden is on several levels and divided into areas of different planting, with a long border, a gravel garden and cornus bed.

Chevithorne Barton, Tiverton, Devon

In spring, this lovely garden three miles from Tiverton and owned by Michael and Arabella Heathcoat Amory features a large collection of magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. There’s a terraced walled garden, summer borders and romantic woodland of rare trees and shrubs. Chevithorne Barton also includes one of only two NCCPG oak collections, situated in 12 hectares of parkland with more than 200 different species to admire.


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