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CONTACT DETAILS FOR THIS GROUP:

Anne Mayes

email: a.c.mayes@exeter.ac.uk

Welcome to the many new members of the Group and welcome back to the existing ones. I am choosing a mixture of days, where I can, to try and be helpful, but I know that whatever I choose it won’t be convenient for everyone, similarly for venues.We go whatever the weather forecast, we’ve a pretty good record, even during wet years.

The programme for the second half of the year has now been added below. A pdf file with full details can be downloaded from this link. I hope there is something here to interest you. When it comes to directions, I give those from the Yellow Book or the appropriate website, the postcode and the map reference, so don’t blame me if you get lost!

As usual I’ve got lots of ideas for visits and I’ve tried to bear in mind that many of you say you like having a house to see as well. Not always possible though.

Anne

Forthcoming Meetings

Sunday 17th February

Bickham House, Kenn EX6 7XL

We very rarely have a February visit, it’s a bit of a risk with the weather. When we do it’s to see snowdrops at a garden which is open anyway, not just for us. I noticed that Bickham House is open on Sunday 17 Feb 2-5pm for their snowdrops. Admission £5, teas available. We’ve been a couple of times before during the summer and the teas have always been good! Julia Tremlett, the owner, is one of us, she used to work at NH. I suggest meeting at the entrance at 2pm. Please let me know if you’re likely to come. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to join you, but it would be helpful to know numbers.


Thursday 14th March

Cotehele House and Gardens

Meet at 12.00hrs where you pay. [PA12 6TA - OS 201 423685]

Admission £12.20 for house and gardens, £8 for gardens only. Car park £3. All free for NT members. This is in their Daffodil Week so hopefully a good time to visit. Two places to eat.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cotehele

This event is CANCELLED due to inclement weather


Wednesday 17th April

Higher Cherubeer

Meet at 14.00hrs. [EX19 8PP - OS 191 602109]

www.ngs.org.uk/find-a-garden/garden/17164/

There is a detailed description on the NGS website. The garden has received national publicity. Admission £4 plus £3 for tea and cake. Please let me know if you intend to come.


Friday 17th May

Bishop's Palace Gardens and Kilver Court

This visit takes in two RHS Partner Gardens. I’ve managed again to arrange parking at The Toby Inn, Middlemoor for this visit by coach. Meet at 09:15hrs.

Bishop's Palace

The gardens at the Bishop’s Palace are14 acres and I’ve arranged a tour of these and of the 800 year old medieval palace taking about an hour and a quarter. Entry for us is £6.95 but for RHS Members it is free. The tours are included and we qualify for a 10% discount at the shop and in the café. The Bishop’s Table serves lunches, menus on the website. At 14:10hrs we move on to:

Kilver Court

We came here 9 years ago and saw the Rockery and Parterre, but there’s a new feature, finished this year, the 100 metre Herbaceous Border has been completely replanted with hundreds of plant varieties. It is described as a “colourist” border. Admission is £5.50 and includes a 10% discount in the Nursery and Wiggly Shed. There is a café for light refreshments. We’ll leave about 16.00hrs so should be back by 17.30hrs.

The cost is dependent on whether or not you are an RHS Member (card must be produced). £22.50 if you are, £29.45 if not. All cheques should be made payable to the University of Exeter, they won’t be cashed until after the visit so please put a date nearer the visit date to avoid them expiring. I should though, like them in as soon as possible! Please email to check availability and I’ll tell you where to send them.


Wednesday 5th June

Hillersdon House Cullompton

Meet at the entrance at 14.00 hrs. [EX15 1LS - OS 192 995080]

Admission £10, to include tea/coffee. You can look this up on the web, the house seems to have had a chequered past but it’s the gardens we will be seeing. It was open last year for the NGS but not this. This is another visit arranged just for us so I need a reasonable number. Please let me know if you intend to come.


Wednesday 10th July

Middle Well, Stoke Gabriel

14.00 hrs [TQ9 6RL - OS 202 860570]

Tranquil 2 acre garden plus woodland and streams contain a wealth of interesting plants chosen for colour, form and long season of interest. Many seating places from which to enjoy the vistas. Interesting structural features (rill, summerhouse, pergola, cobbling, slate bridge). Heady mix of exciting perennials, shrubs, bulbs, climbers and specimen trees. Vegetable garden. Child friendly.

Entrance is £5 to include tour. Tea and cakes £3.50. Lunch – this is a first for us! – soup and focaccia £5 served at 1pm.

We must leave by 16.30 as they are going sailing.

This is a visit just for us so I need to know if you are intending to come and whether you would like lunch.


Sunday 4th August

Chevithorne Barton, Tiverton

13.30 hrs [EX16 7QR - OS 181 985158]

Admission £5.00 teas extra.

Newly planted areas complement walled garden, summer borders and woodland of rare trees and shrubs. In spring, garden features a large collection of magnolias, camellias, and rhododendrons. Home to National Collection of Quercus (Oaks) comprising over 440 different taxa.

We came here in 2011 but earlier in the year. This is an NGS Day so we won’t be the only ones there but please let me know if you are coming. They offer cream teas and home made cakes which, last time, were good.


Tuesday 10th September

Brocton Cottage, Ashburton

14.00 hrs [TQ13 7QZ - OS 202 746697]

Admission £5.50 to include tea.

Three acres recovered from neglect, combining established planting with newly developed areas. New orchard, woodland, ponds and productive area linked to established herbaceous borders and shrubberies. The woodland area being developed was inspired by the winter garden at Anglesea Abbey. Latest project is a new cutting garden. Views over Devon countryside. Dogs on leads only please. Garden can be explored without using steps.

This is a visit just for us so I need to know if you are intending to come. If you want lunch at the Dartmoor Lodge then please make you own arrangements.



Reports for 2019

Links to all previous reports (as pdf files) are in the Gardens Group section on the Newsletters and Archives page.
Bickham House - February
BickhamBickham A small, but select, group gathered at Bickham House to see the snowdrops. They thoroughly enjoyed their visit seeing banks of purple crocuses, daffodils, camellias and even rhododendrons in the middle of February.
The weather was kind and very pleasant for a stroll round. They reported that the teas are as good as ever, no difficulty in relaxing over the cakes and having a good catch up!
ACM
Higher Cherubeer - April
CherubeerCherubeerNormal service resumed with this visit - a delightful garden, sunny and warm weather and a friendly, chatty group of Members.
The garden was easy to find - once some of us had got past extra wide loads - and parking was straightforward. We were warmly welcomed by our two hosts who were very generous with their time and wandered round the 1.75 acres with us. They explained the history of their garden and showed us all the work which had gone into it, all Tom’s stone wall building - in the Devon style with vertical stones - new paths, new beds, new lawns. All done by just the two of them. CherubeerCherubeer
They hold the National Collection of cyclamen species, hellebores and over 400 snowdrop varieties. We were too late for the snowdrops but there was no shortage of other plants and bulbs in flower. There were numerous varieties of hellebores and some wonderful erythronium in many different colours. As usual with many of us there were several plants that we’d not seen before and had to ask what they were - and then promptly forgot! Shrubs and trees added to the overall picture, many in flower and some very unusual. The whole garden was a sea of colour.
We were shown their alpine collection in one of the greenhouses, again, very impressive. Raised beds for vegetables were all set out neatly ready to plant up. The orchard had many different varieties of fruit tree and the path dividing the two had an avenue of coppiced trees. It all looked like a lot of work but the results were very impressive.
Tables and chairs had been set out on the patio so we ended our visit with a very welcome mug of tea and a piece of cake (or two, there was a need to “tidy up”!) sitting in the sun and chatting away. A very enjoyable visit.
ACM
Bishop's Palace and Kilver Court - May
Wells&KilverWells&KilverWell, it was Day 2 of the County Show and traffic the previous day had been dire, but, for some reason, Friday was, in some places, lighter than normal and, as a consequence everyone arrived early - some very- and we left early. A first!
After a tour of Wells looking for the drop off point we alighted very close to the Market Square and the entrance to the Palace through an intriguing gateway called The Bishop’s Eye (1450). Here we boosted our numbers by one to 33 and tucked into coffee and cakes as a reward for the early start. Thus fortified we were divided into two groups for our tour of the Palace and Gardens.Wells&Kilver
We had an excellent guide who took us through the fascinating history of the different buildings and the contribution the various Bishops had made. There are the striking remains of the Great Hall built in the 13th century by Bishop Burnell in the hope and expectation of a royal visit, sadly that never materialised. In the 16th century Bishop Barlow sold the lead from the roof to meet a request by the king for monies. Without its roof the Hall fell into disrepair and in the 19th century Bishop Law, a keen gardener, removed two of the walls to open up the vista and improve the gardens.
Wells&KilverWe were taken into the chapel and asked to sit on the one side while the history and features were pointed out. One of the most surprising was to discover that the home towns and villages of the craftsmen who had carved the pews were to be found on them if you looked very carefully. I’m quite sure we’d never have spotted this without our guide.
From here we went out into the 14 acres of gardens. One of the amazing things was to learn that Bishop Law had had the level raised by 18” to combat the marshy conditions.
The grounds include St Andrew’s Spring which supplies St Andrew’s Well from which water from the Mendips emerges at a rate of roughly 48 gallons per second. There’s a beautiful square Well House next to the spring which was built in 1451 and has three channels to direct the water, one to the Palace, one to the Market Square for the citizens of Wells and one to the moat. Bishop Law created a pool by the spring which provides the iconic view of the Cathedral and, on a still day, a mirror image of it.Wells&Kilver
There’s a kitchen garden, a parterre, an arboretum, the Garden of Reflection and, outside, a deer park.

I’d been warned by other Uersa members who’d been recently, that the renowned swans (first introduced in the 1870s) had flown after the death of the male had left the female and her cygnets on their own. However, just a week before our visit a new pair had been installed in the moat and were undergoing bell ringing training. Apparently the female was learning faster than the male...
With that reminder of food we headed back to the Bishop’s Table for lunch or picnicked in the grounds.

We returned to the pick up point to find another coach taking up the whole space. Particularly galling as we were all on time but their occupants most definitely weren’t! After a bit of negotiation and promises of “just 2 secs” the driver was persuaded to move up and let ours squeeze in behind thus releasing the queue behind him which fortunately was of cars not larger vehicles.

Wells&KilverWells&KilverOn to Kilver Court where we again boosted our numbers by one. A 3.5 acre garden full of character and colour and interesting plants. The backdrop is the Charlton Viaduct built in the 1870s for the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. As we thought, it was widened in 1892 to provide a double track. This is why half is built from red bricks.
The gardens were formed at the beginning of the last century by Ernest Jardine who ran a lace making factory on the site for his employees. Later it was taken over by the Showering family of Babycham fame. Now Mulbery.

Our visits were in the dry, occasional glimpse of the sun but a bit chilly if in the wind. However shelter could be found in the cafes and shops.

We did have to queue on the A30 to get back into Exeter but not for long. It was a very enjoyable day and we all behaved ourselves on the coach!

ACM
Hillersdon - June
HillersdonIt was a day of sunshine and showers, umbrellas and sunglasses. We did have one spell of rain just as we started our tour but it then dried up and tea was taken in quite hot sunshine. It then poured down on the way home!
19 of us arrived to make our way through three sets of electric gates and to be welcomed by the owner and his staff. Cordial was offered which some took up. We were introduced to the Head Gardener who explained what had been done to various parts of the garden and grounds since the current owner had arrived just a few years ago. He then took us round telling us the history behind the lawn, the site of the earlier house and then into the walled garden. HillersdonHillersdonHe explained that any weeds were there because the bees had lost their queen and were a bit angry so they’d had to avoid that part! The walled gardens were huge but were still work in progress. From there we moved into a wild spring garden and hence to their Stumpery. This was quite magnificent, a fascinating feature. Some goats came to look at us.
What was then left were the ponds and a lake. To get to these we had to cross the deer park admiring a mother and her tiny foal racing away from us. HillersdonAt the Lily Pond we found a figure of a large hippo overlooking it.
We made our way back up to the house where tea awaited. This could be taken either out on the terrace or inside in luxury. The owner chatted to those of us inside telling us how much work they’d done to the house, really stripped it all out. Apparently the house had been divided into flats so major work was needed. The owner was flying back every month from Kenya for a couple of days to oversee the work.
Everyone agreed that this was an excellent visit and that we were made very welcome by everyone there. They were very generous with their time, it was nearly 5 pm before we left.
ACM
Middle Well - July
Middle WellMiddle WellThis was a very well supported visit, 24 of us were  fortunate enough to have chosen to make this visit. Middle Well is a truly magnificent garden - or rather gardens because the owners have created several distinct gardens.
A first for us, lunch was offered and 12 of us took advantage of this kind offer to start the visit. We had a choice of homemade and home grown soups which were delicious and seconds were very popular. Focaccia accompanied the soups and to follow, our hosts provided a large bowl of fresh fruit. At this point there was a lively discussion on the optimal ripeness of a banana!
The rest of the group arrived to join us and our hosts very kindly offered to guide us round, they’d provided a laminated map and descriptions but we gratefully accepted their offer.
They moved here 17 years ago and started to transform the 4 acres of fields - it had been a farm - into a series of gardens.Middle Well Much thought clearly went into planning and designing their overall vision. Walls were built, streams diverted to form a beautiful rill through the formal gardens and left as natural streams through the wet woodland, supporting posts to corner arbours were moved and a summer house built. Work is still in progress though with a wildflower meadow, arboretum and orchard with rare fruit trees. There’s a large kitchen garden, looking very productive, and a walled garden. Some members walked through the field containing the geese but found them a little too friendly and retreated rapidly! No one else ventured that way after that.
Middle WellThere were plenty of seating areas and, given the fantastic weather, the temptation to sit and admire the view was impossible to avoid, especially when tea of lemon drizzle or ginger cake was offered. I think several of us could have quite happily have sat for longer in or just outside the summer house!
Middle WellAs one would expect the garden was packed with a wonderful array of plants, shrubs and specimen trees (there was a very colourful cornus in full bloom) all looking very healthy despite the lack of rain - they haven’t watered except for some vegetables.
Our hosts were very hospitable and welcoming and, a good sign, suggested that we make a return visit at a different time of year. I’m sure that the garden has an abundance  of interest and colour at any time of year, it’s so well designed, constructed and planted.
24 very happy and contented members reluctantly left knowing that this was a real gem, one of the best gardens we’ve had the good fortune to be allowed to visit.
ACM
Chevithorne - August
ChevithorneChevithorneThose of us who came ten years ago were able to see what changes had taken place and also to see it at a  different time of year. The first thing we noticed was the scent from the flowers on the lime trees in the farmyard where we parked. Then, on entering the gardens you picked up the scent from the sweet peas and were able to admire the huge catalpa tree in full flower on the first terrace.
We were approached by the garden curator who has been associated with the gardens for many years. It transpired that he’d spent several years out in Nepal so an animated conversation ensued about numerous topics not directly connected with the garden!
ChevithorneChevithorne is renowned for its trees, it has many rare specimens and a National Collection of Quercus (oaks). The garden is suffering losses though and there’s a worryingly high percentage of expected losses in the next ten years. The incidence of various tree diseases is taking its toll.
ChevithorneThis is a very varied garden, some older parts near the house, terraced and walled with lots of stone work and steps, the woodland area, orchards and then, by the open air swimming pool, some more formal borders. These were very colourful and were attracting lots of butterflies. In the background here were several varieties of eucryphia, many in flower.
Teas were served on long tables, mostly in the barn, one table out in the open. There was a choice of a cream tea or cakes. Thus fed we found our way back, another enjoyable visit.
ACM

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