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Friday, 19 November 2010

An Apology and Memories of a June Visit to The Garden House.


The Long Walk, The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Devon.

My dear friends, thank you so much for all your kind messages I have been quite touched by all your well wishes and support. I really must apologise for the distinct lack of posts over the last few months. Sadly unlike the flowers I love so much I have not "bloomed" this summer with pregnancy but succumbed to every ailment going. However I am very happy to say that I am now nearly seven months pregnant and very much looking forward to the arrival of my son in February. Unfortunately the morning sickness never went away and I am still a miserable vomiting wretch! My little munchkin on the other hand is growing strong and regular hospital visits keep me reassured that all is at least well with him, even if I feel rotten. I have felt so zapped of energy that I have struggled to keep up with my usual joys and so my blogging and photography have come to a standstill at the moment. I do not intend to keep it this way, although for the next few months I fear I will not have the zeal for it with my ever increasing bump causing havoc for me!

Stipa gigantea

I have rustled together some images from my visit to The Garden House in Devon way back in early June of this year when I merrily plodded around several Devon gardens blissfully unaware that my life was about to change forever!

 The Long Walk
 
The Garden House, a Georgian mansion built in the 1830's was the replacement for a medieval vicarage used by the vicars of the nearby village of Buckland Monachorum. In the 1940's Lionel and Katherine Fortescue bought the house and founded the garden that exists today. Lionel, a master at Eton was keen plantsman and grew a wide range of plants in the garden including many Rhododendron hybrids.

The Cottage Garden

My main interest in the garden here was not with the Fortiscues early work but with that of Keith Wiley. Keith Wiley was appointed as head gardener by Lionel in 1978. With their blessing he undertook an expansion of the garden onto six acres of adjacent land. Over a period of ten years Keith sculpted the landscape and planted it with his own unusual style known as "New Naturalism." The results were truly spectacular. Wiley has a magical way of creating earthworks densely planted with trees, shrubs and perennials which looks as if they have always existed there, even if they are in fact highly unusual combinations.

The Cottage Garden

I understand that in 2003 Keith Wiley and his wife Ros who had poured their life's work into The Garden House over a 25 year period were made to leave by the The Fortescue Garden Trust who had taken over the ownership of the garden after the death of the Fortiscues in the 1980's. Whilst there is now a new and very talented head gardener at The Garden House it is undoubtedly Keith's extensions of the garden that hold all the magic. I found his work truly inspirational and whilst I am not a trained gardener myself I will be so bold as to say that I think this man is a genius. The way he has crafted the landscape into a seemingly wild floral heaven has to be seen to be believed.

The Cottage Garden

Keith and his wife Ros have managed to buy a small plot of land just a mile away from The Garden House. He has begun work there on a new garden, The Wildside. I did of course visit The Wildside and will share my visit with you in a later post. I shall not ramble on much more about The Garden House but let you see the photos for yourself. As I have previously confessed the images are biased towards the areas created by Keith such as The Long Walk, The South African Garden, The Quarry Garden The Cottage Garden and The Wild Flower Meadow as these for me are the most exciting.


The Cottage Garden

The Cottage Garden

The Cottage Garden with view of St Andrews church, Buckland Monachorum.

The Cottage Garden

  The Cottage Garden

The Cottage Garden

The Magic Circle

The Cottage Garden

The South African Garden

The South African Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Quarry Garden

The Wild Flower Meadow

The Wild Flower Meadow

The Ovals Garden.

The Ovals Garden was an interesting area for me. It stood out in stark contrast from the wilder parts of the garden. It was designed in 1992 by Keith Wiley as a way of improving links between the different terraces in the older part of the garden. I found it quite visually intriguing and the little summer house/ hut at the top called to me to go and sit in it and look out over the garden below. What I did not like about it was the planting which consisted entirely of Ophiopogon. I puzzled for some time as to why such a dull and uninspiring plant dominated the area. It was not until I got home and read my little guide book that I found the answer. This was in fact not the original planting but a recent introduction. The garden had originally been planted with shade loving plants including a 'river' of blue Corydalis. I must confess that I would have much rather seen the river of blue Corydalis!



I really must thank Anna and VP who both urged me to find out more about Keith Wiley when I asked earlier this year which gardens I should visit. Visiting his gardens was a wonderful treat and I am delighted to have discovered such an innovative and intriguing gardener.

Remains of the tower belonging to the old medieval vicarage.

The Bottom Terrace of the old garden.