Believe it or not some villagers read about our weekend breaks and then follow the routes themselves! We are always flattered to hear this so here is another splendid itinerary to follow!
A few weeks ago thirty six Gardening Club members and friends left the villages full of expectation. They were not disappointed. First stop was a gem of a garden – The Courts Garden. One of Wiltshire’s best-kept secrets, nestling in the village of Holt, near Bradford on Avon, this Courts Garden demonstrated the English garden style at its best, full of charm and variety – a true hidden treasure.
We reached our hotel in Exeter to find it buzzing with different sorts of flowers! Over 300 Exeter College students were celebrating the excellence of fellow students who were being awarded with a stream of Sports Awards. Oh those amazing dresses and huge heels! The young men were suave and well-dressed – a suitable foil for their colourful partners – Oh to be young again!
Next day we ventured out, calm had settled on the hotel again and so we set off for the edge of Dartmoor where the enthusiastic plant collector Lionel Fortescue first developed The Garden House in the 1940s. The pioneering planting style is known as ‘new naturalism’, inspired by natural plant communities in the UK and further afield. It features choice trees and shrubs underplanted with thousands of perennials and bulbs. The new Head Gardener showed us around – so much work for him to do but we could still see ‘the inspirational garden blending seamlessly into a timeless Devon landscape, offering stunning views in all directions’.
Dodging the showers we arrived at Buckland Abbey. Not only the gardens were explored but we also admired the recently-discovered Rembrandt – worth over 20 million and ‘guarded’ with nonchalance by one National Trust volunteer…………………………………..
Sunday saw us visiting two more National Trust properties – time and space does not permit me to describe Killerton or Knights Hayes in detail – just go and have a look for yourselves! (I’m not even going to describe the Burlesque dancersd at Killerton!) Our final visit en route home was indescribable – the RHS Garden Rosemoor –I’m not often (ever?) lost for words but here is a garden which surpasses all others. At the heart of the site is a flowing succession of ‘garden rooms’ each with an identity and a purpose but together forming the Formal garden. Other highlights are two rose gardens, a Winter Garden, a Cottage Garden, wild flower meadows, the Forest Garden etc etc. It’s enough to make you move to Devon …………………….. Really pleasing to see was the arrival of a group primary aged children eager to learn about the environment at the purpose-built Learning Centre. So, go on – join the RHS today! Better still, join the Gardening Club – we are affiliated to the RHS so we visited this wonderful garden for free!
Next year – North Wales, staying at Caernarfon – watch this space.001