Category Archives: Gardens


RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon is always a treat and is beautiful throughout the year. This year, following all the wonderful feedback from their first illuminations in 2016, visitors can once again enjoy the garden lit up on a greatly extended trail. Innovative, hi-tech, dynamic colour-changing illuminations provide a magical festive trail around the trees, shrubs and winter sculptures.

This year, the trail is roughly four to five times the length of last year’s, with additional dates, too, running from 17 November 2017 through to 6 January 2018. It takes in the Formal Gardens and extends into the Stream Field where visitors can buy warming hot drinks and snacks at the Shepherd’s Rest – a brand-new, al-fresco catering facility. The trail then follows back down the Long Borders and incorporates displays in the Hot Garden and all around the Winter Garden, too.

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday the gardens will be open until 8.30pm to maximise the effects of the lighting into the evening hours, and on those days garden entry will be discounted after 3pm. The award-winning Garden Kitchen Restaurant will be once again be serving ‘Simple Family Suppers’ from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, and booking is highly recommended to avoid disappointment. The Rosemoor Shop & Plant Centre will also remain open for late-night shopping on these nights and will be a magical place to go for all those Christmas decorations, gift and plant ideas, including for the first time, potted and freshly cut Christmas Trees.

A wonderful festive atmosphere will be created on some of the evenings with Christmas Food, Craft and Antique Fairs; and, on two weekends in December, the very popular Entertainingly Different will be performing ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ in their own inimitable style with songs, stories, poems and dancing. Tickets to these are free but limited and online booking is strongly recommended.

The final day of the illuminations, Saturday 6 January, Rosemoor’s Garden Room events building will be the location for a special Quantum Theatre production of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Information and details on limited ticket prices, together with a booking link are available on line at

During the same period, Rosemoor will hold its extremely popular annual Winter Sculpture Exhibition, where each year over 33,000 visitors enjoy the eclectic mix of exhibits set against the backdrop of the garden. Some of these will be lit up by the illuminations, too, to make them extra special. Most of the sculptures in the exhibition are for sale.

To make the most of a winter visit to Rosemoor there is a wonderful winter walk and trail taking in much of the surprising amounts of colour, scent, texture and structure including dogwoods, ornamental grasses and some of our national collection of hollies, as well as the sculptures set amongst the shrubs.

For more information on events at RHS Garden Rosemoor visit Normal garden admission applies (free for RHS members). Garden open every day (except Christmas Day) 10am – 5pm.

November’s Winter Events at Rosemoor:
4 – 12 November
‘A year in the life of Rosemoor’ Art Exhibition
Theresa Shaw and Jill Griffin have their art on display in Rosemoor’s Lecture / Exhibition HallDaily 10am – 5pm, normal garden admission – free for RHS members

17 November 2017 to 6 January 2018
See how our garden glows Winter Illuminations
Every Thursday, Friday & Saturday, 4pm – 8.30pm Normal garden admission discounted entry after 3pm.

18 November 2016 to 18 February 2017
Winter Sculpture Exhibition
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the garden in winter with its amazing textures and surprising colour and scent, Rosemoor’s Winter Sculpture Exhibition is now an established part of the events programme. The exhibition continues through into 2018 with an exciting and eclectic mix of exhibits from a diverse collection of sculptors, and using a wide variety of media including from steel and glass to cement and pottery. Visitors can pick up a trail and see how many sculptures they can discover through the garden. Most of the pieces exhibited are for sale. Free, guided sculpture walks leave the Visitor Centre at 11.30am most Wednesday mornings.
Daily 10am – 5pm, normal garden admission – free for RHS members

24 – 26 November
Christmas Craft Fair
The Garden Room will be full of the South West’s best craftspeople, making it the ideal place to snap up an early Christmas present or two.
Friday & Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 10am – 4pm in the Garden Room. Normal garden admission – free for RHS members

 25 & 26 November
Garden Wildlife in The Spotlight
Devon Wildlife Trust will be in the Plant Centre offering advice 1pm – 4.30pm


Parks & Gardens UK is entering an exciting phase in its development at its new home with the Hestercombe Gardens Trust. In September 2016 Parks & Gardens UK (P&GUK) with Hestercombe Gardens Trust received £97,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to secure the future of the P&GUK database and website of historic designed landscapes.

The P&GUK archive has records of over 9,100 historic designed landscape sites and over 2,400 biographies of associated people and organisations. The Hestercombe archive contains a significant collection of documents, photographs, plans and manuscripts relating not only to Hestercombe itself (with its eighteenth-century Landscape Garden and also its Jekyll/ Lutyens gardens) but to other parks, gardens and designed landscapes in the United Kingdom.

The combination of the two databases, by offering economies of scale and ease of access between them, will offer a powerful research resource unmatched elsewhere. It will also allow for its expansion by maintaining and developing the existing close relationship between County Gardens Trust and The Gardens Trust, as well as the development of new relationships with like-minded organisations. Hestercombe, near Taunton, is readily accessible and has a range of conference rooms for seminars, summer schools and workshops that will make the study of gardens and landscapes available to a wider public.

Dr Barbara Simms, chair of P&GUK, said: “Both organisations have worked hard over the past months to secure the successful transfer of Parks & Gardens UK to Hestercombe Gardens Trust. It is very exciting that Parks & Gardens UK has a new home that will allow its expansion as the leading on-line resource for historic parks and gardens.”

Philip White, Chief Executive of the Hestercombe Gardens Trust, said: “I am delighted that Hestercombe will have the opportunity to develop and expand on the considerable work achieved by P&GUK over more than ten years and look forward to working with the County Gardens Trusts and others in realising the database’s considerable potential.”

Explaining the importance of the National Lottery support, Drew Bennellick, Head of Landscape & Natural Heritage at the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “This project offers a unique opportunity to bring together two incredibly important sources of data and research for the very first time. Whether it’s someone just wanting to find out more about our rich history of landscape design, or a researcher delving into the history of an early park or garden, these databases are an important and accessible resource for all. Having supported the Parks & Gardens UK database since its inception, we’re pleased to offer this support so that it can transition into a new chapter in its existence.”

PHOTO by Chris Lacey Photography for Hestercombe.


The Famous Five is the inspiration for a ‘Summer of Adventure’ at RHS Garden Rosemoor

  • Garden adventure trails celebrate 75th anniversary of first book
  • Mass picnic on 11 August for Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday
  • Famous Five stories continue to inspire love of being outdoors

2017 marks 75 years since the first book was published in Enid Blyton’s best-loved series The Famous Five. To celebrate the occasion the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has teamed up with Enid Blyton Entertainment and Hodder Children’s Books to offer a range of exciting events and activities across the four RHS Gardens this summer.

At RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon, there will be a lively program of events and activities inspired by The Famous Five’s values – friendship, heroism, adventure, outdoors and daring. There are ‘Five Go on a Garden Adventure’ trails, and a delightful exhibition of Enid Blyton memorabilia, drop-in family craft workshops every weekday and Rosemoor is holding a mass picnic party on 11 August to celebrate Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday.

For children across the generations, Enid Blyton has inspired a love for flowers, plants, gardens and the outdoors through her descriptive powers, and particularly through the adventures of her five famous characters, Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog. From camping on hillsides to exploring streams, from enjoying tasty picnics to discovering caves, many of The Famous Five’s adventures are firmly rooted in the great outdoors.

Enid had an abiding love and deep knowledge of flora and fauna. She wrote to friends of her pleasure at creating her first garden at Elfin Cottage, Beckenham, which included a wild, raised garden in one corner, shrubs and beds of old-fashioned flowers such as lupins, pansies, hollyhocks and roses, an area for fruit and vegetables and a round pond for waterlilies. Inspired by this, lovely descriptions of trees, flowers and birdsong occur even in the midst of her 21 The Famous Five adventures.

It was only at the start of the 1950s that publishers Hodder & Stoughton first used the term The Famous Five and, within a year or two, they had sold more than six million copies. Enid Blyton had only planned to write a handful, but sales were so strong that she went on to pen 21 Famous Five novels, with more than two million copies continuing to sell each year.

The RHS’s Liz Thwaite, said: “People’s love of gardens and gardening often starts when they are children – running, laughing and playing in them, exploring winding paths, going for country walks and discovering the wonders of plants and wildlife. We hope that this summer will create many new happy memories for children, inspired by our gardens and Enid Blyton’s wonderful adventure books.”

The adventure trail at Rosemoor will encourage children to help The Famous Five find Uncle Quentin, who has gone missing on a horticultural research mission. In addition to the trail, exhibition and craft activities there is a whole raft of other events taking place throughout the Summer Holidays.

For details of The Famous Five events and a host of other forthcoming dates for your diary at Rosemoor, see the website.


Going back to grass roots help is bringing Blenheim Gardens in Minehead back to its blooming best.

Volunteers, working with West Somerset Council’s open spaces staff, have put in countless hours – gaining recognition from Britain in Bloom and the heartfelt thanks of West Somerset Council during Love Parks Week.

The national initiative, running from July 14-23, is encouraging people to use their parks and enjoy the experience.

Blenheim Gardens is West Somerset’s flagship park and covers six acres in the centre of Minehead. Created in the 1920s, the gardens are mature with spring and summer bedding displays, a wide range of trees, shrubs and perennials that thrive in the mild maritime climate.

The park has its own bandstand for summer concerts and brass bands – always a family favourite – as well as a seasonal putting course, a Burma Star Memorial Garden which provides an area for quiet reflection, and seating.

There are plans to make Blenheim Gardens more sustainable with a greater emphasis on perennials and shrubs rather than thirsty annual bedding plants.

Cllr Martin Dewdney, the council’s Lead Member for the environment, said: “Blenheim Gardens is quite simply beautiful. The park is a wonderful oasis close to the beach and the centre of Minehead and I know it is well loved by residents and visitors.

“The volunteers do so much for the park and I would like to take this chance to thank them on behalf of the community and the council. Blenheim Gardens is a place to treasure, thanks to our volunteers.

“There is something for everyone in the park – plants to enjoy, a pitch and putt course, grass for the children to play on and the very popular café. In the summer, there’s a programme of music in the Bandstand featuring traditional brass and silver bands as well as local groups.”

Blenheim Gardens has a Facebook page, where you keep up to date with the latest events.

This photo is thought to date back to the 1930s.





A trip to Rosemoor is a must for visitors to beautiful Devon this summer as the RHS Garden celebrates the nation’s favourite flower with a Rose Festival (17 June-30 July), and a few weeks later holds its inaugural RHS Flower Show (18-20 August).

Rosemoor is surely the ideal place for a Rose Festival in early summer. Boasting one of the UK’s largest collections of roses, it is home to two dedicated rose gardens, bringing together 200 different cultivars and a wealth of hues and perfumes, from cottage garden climbers to bright and beautiful container plants.

Visitors to the first RHS Garden Rosemoor Flower Show in August will see the garden awash with floral displays and specialist nurseries brought to the South West by the RHS for the first time. With expert advice on hand from horticulturists, this is an occasion not to be missed for keen gardeners.

RHS Garden Rosemoor Curator Jon Webster says: “There is nothing like Rosemoor in summer. From the warm days of June when the roses begin to bloom, releasing their indescribable scent, to late summer when our ‘Hot Garden’ peaks in swaths of oranges and reds, there is so much to enjoy and so much to see. And with our second annual Rose Festival and our first-ever RHS Flower Show taking place, summer at Rosemoor in 2017 is sure to delight and inspire.”

Rose Festival highlights (17 June-30 July 2017)                      

  • A Rose Weekend on 24 and 25 June with a floral-themed craft and food market, more than 30 stalls, plus free, guided tours of the renowned Rose Gardens.
  • A range of rose-inspired and rose-infused treats, throughout the festival, freshly served from Rosemoor’s Garden Kitchen: rose meringues, rose and rhubarb cakes, and Turkish delight coffee.
  • For ‘Rosemoor Late’ evenings, the gardens will open until 9pm on 6, 14, 20 and 27 July. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and rolling hills of this Devonshire garden at dusk as the roses release their evening perfume. Live music and Pimm’s will add to the festivities.
  • Every Wednesday afternoon an expert florist will demonstrate flower-arranging techniques with roses.
  • Visitors may take a self-guided Rose Trail on an historic journey through the garden, from the Queen Mother’s Rose Garden to the Long Borders and the Cottage Garden.
  • In celebration of British Flowers Week (19-25 June), British roses will be firmly in the spotlight in the Rosemoor Plant Centre, with high-quality selections on sale from David Austin Roses.

RHS Garden Rosemoor Flower Show highlights (18-20 August 2017)

  • Rosemoor’s first RHS Flower Show will be awash with striking floral displays and an abundance of quality plants, along with 20 specialist nurseries from across the UK, plus garden trade stands throughout the weekend.
  • Offering the very best of the South West from Rosemoor’s award-winning catering team, an Afternoon Tea Tent will be serving up delicious prosecco cream teas to take away and enjoy as visitors soak up the atmosphere.
  • For those seeking the best gardening advice, visitors can learn how to transform their gardens and make the most of their plants with an extensive programme of specialist talks and demonstrations taking place in the Garden Room.
  • Visitors can book tickets for exclusive early access on 18, 19 and 20 August, which will treat them to breakfast and a first look at the featured nurseries and trade stands from 9am before the official opening at 10am as well as guaranteed parking.
  • A free Park ‘n’ ride service will operate from Torrington Rugby Club.

RHS Garden Rosemoor, Great Torrington, Devon, EX38 8PH 01805 626810

Entry to the both the RHS Garden Rosemoor Rose Festival and RHS Garden Rosemoor Flower Show is included in normal garden entry.

The Garden opens from 10am – 5pm each day.


Some of Somerset’s most dazzling and inspiring wildlife gardens are opening to the public this summer to fundraise for Somerset Wildlife Trust, and inspire us to use our own gardens to help wildlife on our own doorstep

Somerset Wildlife Trust’s ‘Wildlife Gardens’ is an initiative that will see a selection of Somerset’s finest examples of gardens specifically designed to support our wildlife opening their gates to the public.

The gardens, spread across the county, as well as being stunning in their own right, each showcase unique features that provide special homes for our best-loved species – from small mammals and pollinators, to birds and pond-dwellers. The Trust hopes to inspire visitors to take away ideas for things they can do in their own gardens, school playgrounds, or office gardens to provide a secure home for wildlife.

Whilst all of the participating gardens are very different, they each have one thing in common – owners who are passionate about their gardens and happy to open them in order to inspire others and to support the Trust’s work.  They will be on site, alongside Somerset Wildlife Trust staff, to offer advice and tips as well as delicious tea and cakes for visitors.  The entry fee is £4 per adult, (free for children aged 16 and under), and all hosts will donate the proceeds to Somerset Wildlife Trust to support its work across the county.

Emma Jones, Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Community Fundraiser, explains, “56% of the UK’s species are in decline.  Our wildlife need pathways upon which to travel to and through the county in order to feed, breed and find new homes.  Our own gardens, whether large or small, in the town or in the country literally act as safe, green stepping stones for this to happen.  It’s the little things we do on our own doorsteps that can have a collective impact for wildlife and, whilst the Somerset Wildlife Gardens initiative showcase the very finest examples of wildlife friendly gardening, in each of them there are things that we can replicate in our own  space.

“Even if you are not a gardener at all, getting outside and connecting with nature is good for our health and well-being and the gardens are absolutely fabulous places to spend an enjoyable afternoon and a great way to get to know your local area, so please do come along to one near you.”

Here are the participating gardens (not in date order):

1. Sherborne Garden, Litton, Radstock, BA3 4PP
Host Pamela Southwell
May 21st 2017 at 10:30-17:00
Sherborne Garden is a romantic and enchanting garden, with a peaceful and timeless feel.  Created from agricultural land, and spreading over four acres, it’s a true labour of love. Come along to wander across the striking bridge and explore the winding paths – perfect for children to scamper along and to find secret hideaways in unusual trees.

2. Ball Copse Hall, Brent Knoll, Highbridge, TA9 4DF
Host Sue Boss
July 2nd 2017 at 12:00-17:00
Ball Copse Hall boasts one of the most breath-taking views of the Quantock and Polden Hills in the County. It is easy to understand why it was chosen as a military hospital in the war, as the hope was that the views would heal all. Thanks to the rare ‘crinkle-crankle’ walled garden which provides a warmer temperature, there are some unusual plants to be found, such as a huge kiwi tree from New Zealand. You’ll also find a wildlife pond, home to great-crested newts, and beehives nestled under the beech trees.

3. Broomclose, Porlock, Minehead, TA24 8NU
Hosts David and Nicky Ramsay
17th and 18th June at 13:00-17:00
Broomclose is a stunning Arts and Craft house with a garden classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is divided into idyllic pockets, from the Camelia Walk to the vegetable garden, and has a stunning view over the Vale of Porlock. As there is a milder eco-climate here you will also find unusual sub-tropical trees and plants.  It has been described as “bee heaven” by local beekeepers due to the huge array of bee-friendly plants, and you will be able to see the bees and their hives in the garden.  David, garden host and passionate beekeeper, will be around to answer your questions on this incredibly important aspect of conservation.

4. Model Farm, Perry Green, Wembdon, Bridgwater TA5 2BA
Hosts Dave and Roz Young
9th July at 13:00-17:00
Model Farm is a beautiful four-acre garden that has been lovingly created in the last seven years.  You can explore the wonderful wild flower meadow, stunning flower beds and the incredible 700 trees, which  have all been planted  by the owners on what was once agricultural land.  Don’t forget to find the fabulous wildlife pond too. On the day there won’t only be the chance to wander through this amazing garden, but you can explore the plant sale, display of vintage engines and  local cider makers, as well as  get involved in croquet on the lawn.

5. The Miller’s House, Nunney, Nr Frome, BA11 4NP
Host Caroline Toll
May 27th at 11:00 to 16:00
If you would like to see a beautiful wildlife pond then don’t miss the chance to come to the tranquil garden at Miller’s House, where you will find an atmospheric mill pond which is often visited by  dragonflies. The Miller’s House is set in a small valley near the fabulous Nunney Castle.  You can take a wander along the wild paddock at the bottom of the garden next to the river, from the leat to Nunney Brook, where you can find a perfect paddling spot and a ‘Butterfly bank’ – an amazing bank on the river covered in wildflowers and grasses.

6. Vellacott Cottage Garden, Lawford, Crowcombe, TA4 4AL
Hosts Kevin and Pat Chittenden
June 4th at 13:00-16:00

see photo at top

As featured in the summer 2017 issue of Exmoor Magazine, out mid-May

Vellacott is the archetypal Cottage Garden. The surrounding Quantocks and Brendon Hills make Vellacott feel like a floral oasis, a paradise for all wildlife.  Paths lead you through abundant plants, up to the top where you can find peep holes in the hedges to enjoy the spectacular views – and along the way find the very contented chickens too. Around the garden you will discover many salvaged, historic gardening relics including a Shepherd’s hut that Kevin and Pat are renovating.  Vellacott is a peaceful, joyous space.

7. Hillcrest Garden, Curload, Stoke St Gregory, Taunton TA3 6LA
Hosts Charlotte and Charles Sundquist
June 24th and 25th at 14:00 to 17:00
Hillcrest is a five-acre garden with so many special places within it that everyone can find a perfect spot to sit and contemplate, although the lawn is said to be perfect for cartwheels! It has incredible far reaching views overlooking the Somerset Levels, where you will spot Glastonbury Tor and Burrow Mump – although Hillcrest has its own standing stone that you can get up close to. Don’t miss the chance to visit the very large wild flower meadow leading down to an enormous wildlife pond, full of dragonflies and beehives – with a bee expert on hand to answer any questions you may have about the essential garden visitors.

8. Bracondale Garden, Staplehay, Trull, TA3 7HB
Host – Richard & Jackie Denton-Cox
May 14th at 12:00-17:00
Bracondale is a wildlife haven in Staplehay with a wonderful pond full of frogs, and a meadow that will be in full bloom in time for your visit. You will also find an array of stunning trees including, Persian Ironwood, Redwood, Chinese Tulip tree and Blackgum.

9. Badbury Flowers, Badbury Dairy House, Isle Abbots, TA3 6RS
Host Helen Toon
11th June at 11:00 to 15:00
Badbury Dairy House is a Flower Farm, and Helen the host, is a flower farmer. Helen supplies brides to country markets with stunning floral displays created from her own flowers grown from seed. Come along and be inspired by beautiful home grown flowers – and there’s also the chance to take away your own posy!


Post by Claire Reed, Head Gardener at Hestercombe

I’m sure that like many of us you have all found it very difficult watching the plight of thousands of refugees fleeing their homes to escape such awful conditions. After talking with friends, we all agreed that we wanted to actually ‘do’ something physical to help. So, recently, I have been involved in setting up a local project called ‘Grow for Syria’.

The project aims to raise money and awareness for Help Refugees UK and support the amazing work that they carry out. We looked at our skill base (we are mainly all gardeners) and our friendship groups to see what we could achieve and how we could raise funds. A project called Cook for Syria had really inspired me. The organisers had collaborated with chefs and refugees to create a cook book of Syrian-based recipes. I loved the fact that the book was producing something positive and sharing cultures. The book has been a sell out. I think that reaching out through food and gardening, basic everyday pleasures that bring people together, to build communities really works. And so Grow for Syria was born.

So what are we up to?

I have been raising money by offering to act as a garden adviser at individuals’ gardens (within a reasonable distance). I will spend an hour in the garden with them, discussing design ideas, plant ideas and general advice.

I have also been in touch with seed companies. Seed packets have a sell-by date after which they can’t be sold as viability and the percentage of germination rate cannot be guaranteed. Often the seed will still germinate but, due to seed law, the company has to guarantee a certain rate. Several companies were happy to give me their seeds. These packets have been handed on to various individuals and groups. The idea is that they will sow and grow the seeds and then either arrange their own plant sales to sell on the plants, or pass the plants back to me to sell on.

Local gardening clubs have also been involved. They are supplying any leftover packets of seeds, extra pots of seedlings that they don’t need (we’ve all done it – sown the whole packet of courgettes just in case they don’t all germinate… and then they do and you’re left wondering if you can fit 32 courgette plants in your garden!). Any plants that are being divided, dug out and propagated can all be sold in a plant sale for Help Refugees UK.

It’s exciting. I’ve met some amazing people through the project, many of whom feel the same as me and just wanted to physically do something to help. We have already had a seed swap and sale in Wiveliscombe as a fundraiser and we have a few events coming up.

Dates for your diary:
When: 28th May 2017
Where: Stoke St Mary

What: Stoke St Mary Soap Box Derby – not only is this a great family event, there are lots of stalls including one where I will be selling plants for Grow for Syria. For a donation you can ask me a question about your garden too!

When: 18th June 2017
Where: JWBlooms flower field at Hillcommon.

What: JWBlooms is run by Jan who grows organic cut flowers mainly for weddings and occasions. From the 9th April the field is open to public every Sunday for tea, coffee and cakes, and a stroll around the flowers. It’s a beautiful setting and I highly recommend it. Jan will have a permanent stand of plants you can buy to support Grow for Syria but on the 18th June we are arranging a special Gardeners Question Time type event where a panel of experts will be on hand to answer your questions. Confirmed panel members includes myself, Damien Mitchell (head gardener at Lytes Cary), Sarah Venn (Edible Bristol), Ahsley Wheeler (veg grower at Trill Farm) and Danny Burlingham (head gardener at Forde Abbey).

For more info please go to the JWBlooms website

Currently you can follow Grow for Syria on Instagram
Otherwise if you want to help please get in touch

PHOTO: Claire Reed at Hestercombe by Chris Lacey Photography courtesy Hestercombe Gardens.


From Tintinhull to a simple trellis, from historic Hestercombe to a humble vegetable patch, communities across Somerset share a long-standing passion for gardens. That’s why, on Sunday 14 May, the county will hold the first ever Somerset Garden Day with a simple ambition in mind: to encourage people to down tools and spend some quality time celebrating their gardens.

Taking part in Somerset Garden Day couldn’t be easier: just find a fun and relaxing way to celebrate your garden space on Sunday 14 May. How you celebrate is completely up to you – it could be hosting a family picnic, inviting friends round for a barbeque or sharing afternoon tea with your neighbours. There are no rules about how to celebrate and anyone and everyone can take part, regardless of age or gardening experience. The most important thing is for everyone to spend time relaxing and enjoying their gardens on Sunday 14 May!

While Somerset is home to some of the world’s most famous gardens, Somerset Garden Day is unique because it encourages people to spend quality time appreciating their own. Somerset Garden Day is about celebrating the county’s gardening efforts in all its shapes and forms, whether you have a rolling lawn and flowerbeds, a patio of potted plants or a simple kitchen herb garden. Villages, towns and cities across the county are being encouraged to spread the word about Somerset Garden Day to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in the celebrations on Sunday 14 May.

In particular, Somerset Garden Day hopes to inspire more people to experience the wonderful wellbeing benefits that gardens and gardening can bring. A King’s Fund report published last year (2016) has shown that spending more time in gardens can help to combat stress and enhance mental and physical health. It is hoped that Somerset Garden Day will help renew people’s passion for gardens and perhaps spark a new interest for those who haven’t been interested in gardening in the past.

Garden centres and gardening groups across the county will be taking part in Somerset Garden Day, providing ideas and incentives for people to get involved. The website – – offers a range of activity ideas for the day including picnics, barbeques, outdoor games and nature trails. Those taking part are being encouraged to share their preparations and celebrations using #SomersetGardenDay.

So this Somerset Garden Day, it’s time to down tools and celebrate the fruits of your gardening labour! For more information about how to take part, visit or share your stories with #SomersetGardenDay.



A Somerset-based charity is launching an appeal to raise £1.5million towards the development of internationally renowned Hestercombe Gardens and to secure its future for generations to come.

In its 20th year since opening to the public, Hestercombe Gardens Trust, based in Cheddon Fitzpaine, near Taunton, is launching The Hestercombe Gardens Appeal on 21 April to help support this unique historic landscape of international importance.

The money is needed to carry out the next phase of restoration projects within the gardens and provide an endowment to secure future sustainability. Thanks to a generous private charity the first £200,000 raised will be match funded pound for pound.

Through this appeal, key areas of the gardens will be brought back to life – restoring and recreating lost features. Part of the money raised through the appeal will go towards the recreation of ‘Sibyl’s Temple’, an eighteenth-century rotunda in the Landscape Garden. Footings for a rotunda have already been established and the plan to recreate the temple from drawings and descriptions will link the design with the Great Cascade and the Gothic Alcove, both key features in Hestercombe’s Landscape Gardens, reinforcing the original design.

Other garden projects include the reinstatement of the lime tree avenue along the west side of the Formal Garden, which has been traced by old maps, plans and photographs. This avenue of trees was part of the original Lutyens design, planted between 1904-1908.

A rustic Hermitage situated overlooking the Vale of Taunton and dating to c.1755 is also to be recreated and reinstated on its original site, the foundations of which were uncovered by archaeologists only relatively recently.

Other significant developments which the money will be put towards include the recreation of an unusual garden kitchen attached to the Octagon Summerhouse, the installation of traditional wrought-iron fencing in the park, together with ongoing wildlife protection, archaeology and general planting. In the future it is also hoped that an exceptionally rare Elizabethan Water Garden will be restored – one of just a handful left in the country, adding a fourth period of history to Hestercombe’s unique collection of gardens.

Hestercombe’s historically important gardens currently display three centuries of garden design and the formal gardens have been recognised worldwide as one of the best examples of design by eminent plantswoman Gertrude Jekyll and architect Edwin Lutyens. The attraction is proud to have been presented with the European Gardens Award in 2016 (in the category of historic restoration) and two regional awards for tourism excellence (a Gold award in the Bath, Bristol & Somerset Tourism Awards 2016 and a Silver at the South West Tourism Awards 2017)

The Hestercombe Gardens Appeal aims to restore and recreate many of the historical features originally found within the grounds and to bring their stories alive for visitors, whilst maintaining Hestercombe’s high ecological and sustainability credentials.

The appeal is the first stage of a longer-term ambition to raise £8m to develop Hestercombe even further – bringing art and the landscape together in a project resulting in the complete restoration of Hestercombe’s House and Gardens and eventually the establishment of a new garden for the twenty-first century garden, 12 artist’s studio spaces and an auditorium to seat 200.

CEO of Hestercombe, Philip White, said: “Thanks to continued support from our trustees, members, visitors, volunteers and staff, Hestercombe has been transformed over the last 20 years. We have come a long way, but there is still more to do to complete the picture.

“This is the first step on a new journey, which will take us even closer to giving current visitors and future generations a true taste of what Hestercombe looked like in its heyday whilst continuing to develop and ensure its future sustainability.”

“As a charity we rely on donations to help us care for Hestercombe and we hope people’s generosity will enable us to give back to our local community as well as playing a role as an internationally significant garden.

The Hestercombe Gardens Appeal launches with an exhibition celebrating 20 years with 20 amazing images, which runs from 22 April until 21 May, 11-5pm in Hestercombe House. The exhibition shares some of the most incredible pictures from the archives in a mini-exhibition, charting the story of Hestercombe – from designed Arcadian landscape, to its ruin and highly acclaimed incredible restoration.

Donating to the appeal is simple. You can either visit the website at, call 01823 413923, or pick up a donation form from Hestercombe. You can also text to donate 70070 HEST20 £ adding the amount you’d like to give (up to £10). If you’d like to donate to a specific project or consider other ways to give, for example leaving a legacy, contact Hestercombe directly.


Following a £1.2m investment for the tourism industry in the South West, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor is pleased to announce that their newest corporate hire and wedding venue will be completed this month.

The Garden Room, as it is to be known, is set in the stunning grounds of RHS Garden Rosemoor and is already receiving enquiries and securing bookings for weddings and awards nights well into 2018.

Able to accommodate up to 460 people for conferences or 250 to sit-down banqueting, the Garden Room is in an inspirational setting – the perfect place for corporate hire including conferences, training, product launches and trade shows and special celebrations such weddings, awards nights and private parties. Rosemoor’s award-winning restaurant team is fully equipped to cater for every need.

The Garden Room joins a number of other venues that are available for hire at Rosemoor which include The Peter Buckley Learning Centre, with its two state-of-the-art teaching classrooms, exhibition room and gardens and a lecture / exhibition hall. It is also one of ten venues licensed for weddings or civil ceremonies in the garden including intimate stables and shelters. In addition to weddings, the extremely experienced Rosemoor team hosts over 100 events, courses and workshops every year with everything from live music concerts and theatre productions to art and sculpture exhibitions, craft, food, plant and antiques fairs; flower shows and competitions.

One of the first of these events is a Wedding & Special Occasions Fayre on Sunday 7 May when Rosemoor will showcase everything that the garden and Devon has to offer a would-be bride or party organiser. Normal garden admission applies although tickets are free for this event for pre-booked bride and groom couples. Please visit or telephone the events team on 01805 626810.