Jun 28, 2008

Somerset, Dorset whichever you may choose

Went to the South West area of England to go see some gardens and houses in the Somerset and Dorset area. I got to stay with a lovely woman who is a fantastic artist and lives in a very small town called Taunton. She lives in 2 old converted barns and has a very large walled garden attached to her house that she gardens in.
This was an exciting weekend because not only was I seeing new parts of the country, but I had to drive on the roads as well............ I am still here, so you can breathe now. :)

The view of her studio from the outside.
A bench gleaming from the sun in the meadow area of the walled garden, against the backdrop of the pink stone native to the area.

The sun setting in the studio side of the garden. You would have never have known you were in the middle of the village because the walls made the garden feel a lot more secluded than you were.

There is an organization called the National Trust here that helps secure and preserve old estates, gardens and parts of the countryside and coast. Once your a member you can visit any of their properties which are located all over England, and your pass gets you in everywhere for free. For me this is great because it gives me the chance to see unspoiled countryside, mature trees and gives me more of an understanding of the relationship between a house and it's surrounding gardens. Seeing National Trust properties puts a new spin on visiting gardens because of the sense of history behind each place and helps me get an inside look at how some of our greatest gardeners would think when putting these landscapes together.
After successfully navigating myself and Mark through multiple roads and roundabouts (These are circles that you drive around to get to where you want and are placed where multiple main roads intersect. It's great, if you can't figure out which road you need, you simply drive in the circle until you see the correct road sign. Much better than missing your exit and having to drive 10 miles to the next one to turn around.) . So after all of my driving excitement/fear we made it to a place called Killerton in Exeter, Devon.
Killerton is an 18th century house surrounded by parkland and some large gardens. You can tour the inside of these stately homes but unfortunately pictures are not allowed. But you want to see trees and plants anyway don't you?!
Here you have views of the neighboring sheep fields,

with a silhouette of the Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus lebani where it's form can really be seen and appreciated.

One of the garden beds, which while they were planted nicely, it was the surrounding landscape that excited me.

The native oak , Quercus robur, cooling me off in it's glorious shade while sharing a tiny morsel of the view to come.

The view of the neighboring countryside from the top of the property. The colors and patterns of the landscape are reminiscent of a quilt, seamlessly pulled together and mesmerizing to look at. To see each field being a different color while being outlined and dotted with trees is something that I would never tire of.

The wild Foxgloves in bloom, Digitalis purpurea and the purple blooming ever present
Rhododendron ponticum.
Large mature Giant Redwoods, Sequoiadendron giganteum, towering well above my head.

When your given lemons, make lemonade right?
I am not sure how this tree wound up horizontal but instead of cutting it up and carting it away,
it was turned into a discreet sitting area.

This small church was connected to the grounds of the National Trust property. Each church you pass in England seems to have it's own charm and just begs to be looked at. The stonework is incredible and is usually surrounded by some pretty old trees. Here it was amazing to see the tree trained Wisteria in full bloom all along one side of the church. Again, the horticultural skills that are seen in England are just astounding.

Then it was off to driving to Tintinhull house and garden which was another car ride away. This is a 17th century manor house which is surrounded by a walled garden made of up pockets of garden rooms.

Pelargonium ardens brightening up a planting niche.

There was a vegetable garden of substantial size which was lit up with a walkway of Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'.
Then it was on to visit some other friends in Dorset which was about 2 hours away from where we were staying. The land started to change as we drove and more and more hills became present. I wouldn't call them mountains, they were really large rolling hills.
We all stayed with some friends, one being a girl I went to Longwood with named Jess. Small world huh? We got to see the estate they work on which was pretty impressive. No photos were allowed though.

The view looking down on the estate we just visited. The estate was enormous and was still relatively newly planted. You can see the Tilia tree allees that still have a few years until maturation. Seeing an estate at this stage was a real pleasure for me because you could see how the ideas were created and why they were created. These allees lead your eye from the house straight to the gorgeous rolling hills beyond.
Miles and miles of lush greenery for the eyes.

The road we walked up.

A wild flower meadow, with golden yellow buttercups and the red Rumex acetosa, competing for attention from the sweeping views beyond.

view from inside the glade of about 30 trees on top of the mountain. There was an obvious 10 degree drop in temperature in here which was a nice break from the sun and the view of the sun peeking through was like being in another world.

Making your way through the footpaths while sharing the fields with sheep is one thing, but with large cows that don't scurry off the walk when you come by can be a little intimidating......

The walk back with a not so bad view.


  1. Jimmy please bring me a cow home.Aunt Helen

  2. Jimmy, congrats on getting the JBG scholarship. I'm enjoying your gardening adventures from afar. Impressed by all the wonderful photos, a bit envious, too. I spent my early years as a gardener in Wisconsin and Missouri, but have since garden in Germany, Italy and the pacific Northwest. Your blog is the best kind of "reality programing" I've found sincere, no drama and all about the gardens. Thank!s Keep up the good. I have a new blog site ( due to technical difficulties). Daniel Mount