Category Archives: Gardens


The award-winning Royal Horticultural Society garden in Devon, RHS Garden Rosemoor, will itself be giving out awards during its Spring Flower Competitions (11 – 12 March).

Competitors from all over the South West will have their exquisite blooms of camellias, early magnolias and rhododendrons judged on Saturday morning. Visitors will be able to view the displays from 11.30am, after judging has finished. There will also be an abundance of colour with Rosemoor’s annual daffodil and the RHS Hyacinth competitions. To complement the competition, one end of the marquee will have a huge display of hyacinths, with a wonderful scent to greet visitors as they enter. The other end of the marquee will have a big display of daffodils by R.A. Scamp Quality Daffodils (pictured).

The competitions are entirely free to enter and open to anyone who wishes to exhibit. Georgina Barter, RHS Horticultural Competitions Manager, will be on hand to provide further information and advice about all the RHS shows that take place throughout the year. Pam Hayward, who is the chair of the South West Rhododendron & Camellia Group Committee, will also be available.

The RHS Bulb Committee have arranged the opportunity for pupils from The Pathfields School in Barnstaple to get growing and enter a special class in the show. They have each planted a pot of three bulbs of a miniature daffodil, donated by Johnny Walkers of Walkers Bulbs. About 60 pots of daffodils were planted by the schoolchildren, and those that have grown successfully will be on display at the Spring Flower Competitions. The class will be judged on Friday 10 March and the winners given pride of place at the show.

Trade stands will be setting up in the afternoon of Friday 10 March and include Strete Gate Camellias; Burncoose Nursery, Caerhayes Castle, Cornwall; Pine Cottage Plants, Eggesford; Chris Cooke Plants, Cheltenham; Wildside Nursery, Yelverton (Keith & Ros Wiley); International Camellia Society; and Marwood Hill Gardens.

Visitors will be able to gather plenty of advice from the trade stands, plus there will be a superb range of early spring shrubs and flowering plants available to buy in the Rosemoor Shop and Plant Centre.

Normal garden admission applies. For more information about RHS Garden Rosemoor, events and how to buy tickets please visit or telephone 0845 265 8072 (calls cost 5p per minute, plus your telephone service provider’s access charge).

PHOTO: Ron Scamp.



With free admission for everyone, Friday 4 November is the day to head to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor in Great Torrington, Devon to enjoy all that the garden has to offer.

As part of the Society’s charitable purpose, they occasionally offer free garden admission so that everyone can enjoy a beautiful garden near to them.

On Friday 4 November, all visitors will be able to explore the garden in its autumn glory for free, giving the chance to discover the benefits of membership and find out how they can get involved through volunteering. They will be also able to experience the award-winning restaurant and browse the fully stocked plant centre and gift shop.

With membership comes free access not only to Rosemoor 364 days a year, including more than 80 garden events such as craft and antiques fairs, exhibitions and family craft workshops, but also discounts and advance bookings on RHS Flower Shows, courses, and access to a wealth of expert gardening advice. Membership also helps the RHS share the best in gardening. RHS members enjoy free access to the three other RHS Gardens, too, as well as discounted or free admission to more than 200 RHS Partner Gardens around the country and overseas.

Free garden admission applies to Friday 4 November only. Book your tickets online and find out more at Garden open 10am-5pm.


Hestercombe, near Taunton, is delighted to have been named as a winner in the European Garden Award.

Under the category Best Development of a Historic Park or Garden, Hestercombe won the title, beating the other finalists Schlosspark Ludwiglust (Germany) and the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

Last year’s winner was the Herrenhäuser Gärten in Hannover, Germany.

Collecting the award in Germany, Oliver White of Hestercombe, said: “It’s such an honour to be accepting this award on behalf of everyone who works so hard to keep the house, gardens and gallery at Hestercombe thriving and growing year after year. We celebrate 25 since Hestercombe was rediscovered next month, so it’s timely to be winning this accolade now, and we are humbled to have been picked over such strong competition.”

The aim of the European Garden Heritage Network (EGHN) is to support the preservation, enhancement and creation of high quality parks and gardens in Europe, their wider use and sustainability in the context of policies to foster urban, regional, cultural and landscape development.

Christian Gruesson, who managed the awards, said: “The increase of public awareness for the cultural, economic, environmental and social values and resources of parks and gardens is also a key objective of the European Garden Award. We hope that the award combined with a further gain of publicity and image will support the finalists and winners in the future development of their concepts.”


Even if you only have a small garden or courtyard, growing some vegetables, herbs or fruit to eat is really very easy. Just a few pots on the patio can be incredibly productive and popping outside and picking your own is so satisfying.

Although many vegetables are pretty easy to grow, getting started can be a little daunting if you have never grown any before. If you need a little help, or have had a go and were not happy with the results, then pop along to this year’s Grow Your Own Veg Day at Eggesford Gardens.

The free event takes place on from 11am to 4pm on Sunday 21 February. Advice on selecting the best crops for your garden and your taste buds, along with top growing tips, will be available from the centre’s experts. Joining the Eggesford team on the day will be Alison Bockh who teaches courses on gardening and veg growing and is also an accomplished garden designer.

“We think that it really important to encourage children to grow veg from an early age, so we are giving away a free pack of veg seeds to all children under 12 years old who come along on the day,” says Derrick Dyer, owner of Eggesford Garden Centre. “Not only is it a fun family activity but it helps develop understanding of where our food comes from.”

If you want to grow some vegetables this year but need a little advice or fancy trying to grow some different, then visit Eggesford Gardens Grow Your Own Day.






















Somerset’s Hestercombe Gardens is to feature in a new historical gardening series presented by Gardeners’ World favourite Monty Don on BBC Two.

Navigating through 400 years of Britain’s gardening heritage, The Secret History Of The British Garden examines how traditional British gardening has changed over time with the influencing factors of politics, war, religion, archaeology, medicine and Britain’s evolving tastes in food, design, sculpture and fashion.

The first episode aired on Sunday 15 November and explored the sole surviving garden of the 1600s, the world-famous Levens Hall in the Lake District.

Hestercombe’s head gardener Claire Reid was interviewed by Monty for the fourth and concluding episode which will be shown on Sunday 6 December at 9pm. Following the twentieth century, the episode sees Monty examining the profound effect that two world wars had on attitudes to gardening. At Hestercombe Claire talks to Monty about the planting schemes of Gertrude Jekyll which were far less labour intensive than the previous heavy duty Victorian planting schemes.

Today gardening is one of Britain’s most popular pastimes, and the horticultural industry is worth over nine billion pounds annually. Monty reveals the pioneers who led this gardening revolution.

Head gardener Claire said: “It was amazing to meet a real hero of mine, and not be disappointed in the slightest. It’s rare to speak to anyone who is so intellectual and yet also practical as well. He is a proper gentleman!”

Monty Don said: “My journey through 500 years of British garden history has been fascinating. Not only has it unravelled the horticultural narrative of our unique gardening history but it has also been filled with insights into our social, political and cultural life that stretches into every corner of human behaviour right to the present day.”

The four-part series was commissioned by the BBC’s Mark Bell, and has been executive produced by Greg Sanderson for the BBC and Alexandra Henderson for Lion TV.

PHOTO: You can find out more about Hestercombe in the current issue of Exmoor Magazine, which includes an article about three Quantock estates, including Hestercombe (along with Crowcombe Court and Halsway Manor), by Mary Siraut.


After a summer-long residency at Hestercombe Gallery, St Ives-based artist Simon Bayliss has produced an exhibition entitled Arcadia which will run from 24 October 2015 until 28 February 2016.

During his time at Hestercombe, Simon has responded to the gardens through painting en plein air and writing poetry. The resulting exhibition presents Bayliss’ idiosyncratic vision of Hestercombe as an Arcadia, a pastoral utopia, accelerated using wit and fast-paced imagery.

Simon Bayliss came out as a landscape painter earlier this year to a discerning audience of contemporary artists. By describing his conflicting feelings on the subject, and some of the problems with romanticising the countryside, he hoped to challenge the unspoken notion that landscape painting is now a provincial pursuit. During his time at Hestercombe, Bayliss produced daily watercolours of views within the gardens. Many of these were made from the follies, designed by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde as picturesque viewpoints inspired by Arcadian landscape paintings.

Bayliss first came across the notion of Arcadia, not from landscape painting however, but gay literature, an idea historically described in books, such as ‘Brideshead Revisited’, as an Eden for affectionate men away from the scrutiny of society.

Over the years Bayliss has worked in gardens, a garden centre and an organic smallholding, so it seemed natural to explore the refrain ‘queering the garden’ at Hestercombe. Bayliss’ erotic tea towel, for example, features the phrase ‘Paradise Haunts’, which comes from Derek Jarman’s remark ‘Paradise haunts gardens’.

Bayliss was selected as the second artist in residence, in an ongoing series of residencies at Hestercombe offered to artists working in the South West. During his time here he has also developed an ‘Arcadia Workshop’, which will take place in spring, gathering creative practitioners in the fields of art, writing and garden design to explore landscape themes. Bayliss is also currently co-writing a play with poet Damon Moore, based on the Gertrude Jekyll garden at Hestercombe.

Bayliss studied at Falmouth College of Art and Burren College of Art, Ireland. Recent projects include ‘Landscape Painters Anonymous’, a performative lecture, CAST, Helston, and ‘A Coastal Climax’ a poem commissioned for ‘The Wise Wound’, a night of music and performance curated by artist Lucy Stein with Tate St Ives. Under his alias swimonbaybliss, Bayliss also produces the biweekly radio show ‘Squirming the Worm’, hosted by Coco de Moll (Lucy Stein), on NTS. With Stein, he also co-curated the painting-centric group exhibitions ‘SS Blue Jacket’ at KARST, Plymouth, and ‘The White Hotel’, Gimpel Fils, London. Bayliss is currently a student on The Syllabus, a year-long experimental education programme convened by Wysing Art Center in partnership with Eastside Projects, New Contemporaries, S1 Artspace, Spike Island and Studio Voltaire.

Find out more about Hestercombe Gallery at

Garden Tips from Hestercombe

Late August and early September is a great time to take semi ripe cuttings, and it’s pretty simple too, explains head gardener at Hestercombe, Claire Reid.

Semi ripe means that it is this year’s growth and the stems have just started to harden up and aren’t soft and sappy, like in spring. You can use this technique for lavender, rosemary, cistus, santolina – and a whole host of other shrubs.

It’s best to take cuttings in the morning as the sap is rising and the sun isn’t too hot to make them wilt. Pick the material that you want by taking non-flowering current growth. Put the plant material inside a plastic bag and put in the shade until you are ready to prepare the cuttings. The plastic bag will help keep moisture locked in as the plant transpires and will save it from wilting. Make sure that your bag is clearly labelled so that you know what you have.

To prepare the cuttings use a sharp knife and make a clean cut under the leaf node. Use your fingernails to pinch off all but the top few leaves. It will leave your cutting looking like a palm tree but the less leaves there are, the less energy is lost through transpiration.

Fill a pot with seed and cutting compost and press down. Dip the stem into rooting hormone powder and shake off any excess. Push the stem of the cutting into the soil. You can probably fit four cuttings into a 9cm pot. Then water the pots.

Keep your cuttings moist by watering or misting – this can be done by a handheld spray gun.

Once the cuttings have formed good roots lift them by their leaves and prize them out with a dibber (or pencil!). They can then be re-potted into more nutritious compost.

It’s that simple! A lot of plants will root just from being out in water.

Claire Reid is the head gardener at Hestercombe, for more information visit

Vote to Restore Victorian Pleasure Grounds in Watchet

Watchet needs your help! Votes are needed for the Aviva Community Fund, for a project called: ‘Watchet Community Makes a Splash’.  Led by Onion Collective, the project aims to raise £10k towards returning a derelict area in Watchet known as Splash Point to its former glory. The fund is a national initiative, and competition for the funding is fierce, so please follow the link and vote for Watchet!

To vote follow this link:

The Splash Point project will provide a beautiful visitor attraction for Watchet, where people can go to relax and enjoy a fabulous community-run garden, with unsurpassed views of the surrounding coast and countryside. It will also be a place where events can take place, bringing people from all areas of the community together.

The project aims to engage all types of people across the community, particularly reaching out to those who may feel isolated and lonely. The design, construction and landscaping elements will all involve the input of local people and volunteers, enabling people to learn new skills, and feel part of something important. Participants could include anyone who wants to take part – unskilled, the skilled but now retired, students and/or practising professionals.

The physical work will involve gardening, landscaping, carpentry and woodwork. It will start with workshops to collaboratively design the re-imagined Pleasure Grounds, and then community landscaping days to carry out the clearing, landscaping and planting of the site. The project will also include a three-day wood workshop with award-winning architect Piers Taylor (from BBC2’s £100k House), timber specialist Charley Brentnall and landscape architect Marc Dix from LT Studio, to design and construct a timber structure such as a lookout or a pavilion, responding to the landscape. The funding will pay for professional expenses, materials, tools and equipment.

Rachel Kelly, Onion Collective Director, says, “The project has the potential to be completely transformative for Watchet, and would create a beautiful area in Watchet that could be enjoyed by all. But the project is also about local people learning new skills, coming together and being involved in something important. If you would like to be involved in this project we’d love to hear from you. Please vote for us!”

Onion Collective were put forward for the Aviva fund by James Beadell of Beadell’s Mortgage Advisors.

Photo caption: Onion Collective Directors Rachel Kelly, Jessica Prendergrast and Naomi Griffith on Splash Point in Watchet.

Clanville Secret Garden, Minehead

Minehead Development Trust is a voluntary organisation representing Minehead’s local businesses, residents and local council. The Trust has begun work turning an abandoned garden in the centre of Minehead into a community garden and has won a Sustainable Watermark Award of £500 to install a rainwater harvesting system.

Clanville Secret Garden is tucked away in what was once part of the Clanville Grange Estate. Formerly a horticultural facility supplying Blenheim Gardens, it is located right in the heart of Minehead. Sandwiched between Holloway Street, Market House Lane and the Clanville development, it has rightly been labelled a ‘secret garden’ as it is almost invisible from surrounding roads and properties. Unsuitable to convert into a modern nursery, allotments or a housing development, West Somerset Council have offered it to the community if a viable use can be identified.
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“Minehead Development have certainly found a use for this neglected site,” said Cllr Mandy Chilcott, Chair of Minehead Development Trust’s Vision Group. “This old Victorian garden, on four different levels with remnants of its palm garden and original glasshouse, could provide a wonderful garden for local residents. Planning and fundraising are running in parallel and Dunster National Trust Gardens, Transition Minehead and Alcombe are all giving us horticultural help and advice.

“Enthusiasm from the local community for the garden’s restoration is a hundred percent and because much of the work will be done by volunteers it is important to have some basic facilities on site for them. We are delighted to say that our Sustainable Watermark has made it possible to install a rainwater harvesting system to get the old toilet up and running again.”
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The Watermark Award provides funds for environmental projects within the Wessex Water area. Now in its twenty first year, it has supported over 900 environmental initiatives. Organised by The Conservation Foundation, all projects are judged by a panel chaired by its President – David Bellamy.

PHOTO: Phil Strange from Wessex Water presenting the a cheque to Cllr Maureen Smith and volunteers of Minehead Development Trust.

Green Flag Flies Over Bicclescombe Park

Bicclescombe Park in Ilfracombe is now proudly flying a new Green Flag – for the 11th year in a row.

The park, which is owned and managed by North Devon Council, has been given the Green Flag by Keep Britain Tidy. This is an award the charity hands out in recognition of the best parks and green spaces across the country.

The flag-raising ceremony took place this week (Wednesday 20 August), with the flag being raised by John Christophers, who is the eldest member of Ilfracombe’s model boat club.

John says: “To be chosen to raise the Green Flag is an honour. I come twice a week to this park and when you live on your own, this place and the club are great. It provides a good social life and we certainly have a laugh!”

Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Derrick Spear, says: “I have fond childhood memories of this park, from when I used to play here as a boy. So, being involved in the flag-raising ceremony was a pleasure. This award confirms that the Parks team and all the volunteers involved in the upkeep of Bicclescombe Park are truly great.”

Local ward member, Councillor Geoff Fowler, says: “Well done to everyone who has been involved in the conservation of Bicclescombe Park. This award is a credit to you and all the effort you put in.”

Local ward member, Councillor Philip Webb, adds: “The award also confirms to other park users what we already know – and that is that Bicclescombe Park is among the best in the country!”

Bicclescombe Park is one of two North Devon parks that have been awarded the Green Flag for 2014. The other open space that has been given the award is Yeo Valley Community Woodland, which raised its flag earlier this month.

PHOTO: Users of Bicclescombe Park gather for the Green Flag raising nike air max 90