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Hestercombe Gardens

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This is a small but beautiful new discovery for me. Growing like a golden mat just below the Chinese bridge is this- golden saxifrage or Chrysosplenium oppositifolium. It thrives in damp conditions so it has certainly had the correct growing conditions this year. This little native plant is beautiful glistening in the sunshine and flowers normally between April and June, but like everything else it is a bit early....
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  A big, big congratulations to Luke Hampton, former gardener and miller who got married this month to his long (long, long ,long term girlfriend- it took him 13 years to propose!!!!!) Angela Belcher. We wish them  the love, luck and happiness for their new lives together.  ...
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I'm not entirely sure what we have done to the Bergenias (elephants ears) this year to bring on such a huge bloom, or if the weather has just been perfect conditions for them, but they are smashing. Bergenias were Gertrude Jekyll's favourite plant- she even has them on her grave- and until now I've never really understood why. They can be a bit 'lumpy', look dreadful if the leaves get blackened by frost, and I've always just seen them as a bit of a gap filler at the front of a border. But today i get it!   ...
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This Saturday is International Women's Day and I thought this was a great opportunity to celebrate some magnificent women in horticulture. And where better to start than with Gertrude Jekyll who designed the planting in the formal gardens at Hestercombe. Gertrude was born in 1843 and died in 1932. She had a very artisic start in life and her skills included painting, silverwork and embroidery. When her eyesight deteriorated she didn't give up but in a sense got a larger canvas. She started to design and build gardens. She didn't stop there she became one of the most sought after gardener...
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Our call for donations of books to eventually go in our second hand book shop is going really well and people have been really generous. Yesterday Hannah, Emily and Leanne picked up thousands of books from one address. The bookshop will open in the house and having glimpsed some of the books inside the boxes you might have to form an orderly queue behind me! There is already such a terrific range- keep them coming!...
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The job of the gardens team is always wide and varied but over the last couple of weeks we have all been working in the house to get some of the restoration work underway. Happily this has coincided with an awful lot of wet weather so the job couldn't be better timed! Over years of Somerset fire brigade and the County Council residing in the house it has become very 'officey' - lots of carpet tiled rooms, suspended ceilings etc. Our first job is to see what is going on under the carpet tiles and get the first floor up and...
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Tagged in: house restoration
Have you ever wondered about mistletoe? I have been working in the orchard pruning the apple trees recently and noticed the abundance of mistletoe we have growing there. I was inspired to learn more about this interesting plant that I walk past every day! Mistletoe, or Viscum album in Latin, is an evergreen partially parasitic plant which grows in the branches of trees. This means that it makes some of its own food in the same way that most plants do, but it also obtains nourishment from the host tree. It does this without killing the tree, but at the same...
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Readers, I am after your ideas and thoughts. As you may know we run several half day courses through the year- apple pruning/rose pruning/ seed sowing/cuttings/dry stone walling and charcoal burning etc. What I would like to know from you is, are we missing anything? Is there something horticultural that you wish we could explain to you? Would you like to see us offer more historic tours/talks of the garden? Would you like to know more about Jekylls planting plans or the ideas behind the landscape garden? Are there specific subjects that you need more knowledge on or would you like...
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mmmmmm..... I don't think I have ever had roses in bud in January....
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Personally I am loving the mild weather. I'd rather have wet and mild than freezing cold or worse- snow. We can all still get on with something when its wet but the frost rules out so many gardening jobs. Without heating in the glasshouse I would have presumed that the plants were a little happier with the mild weather too, but some of our autumn sowings are struggling with the damp air. If there isn't enough air circulation the can become affected by a fungal presence- botrytis. This appears as a grey 'fluffy' mould and will attack any weak areas. The...
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Apple pruning confuses a lot of people and it doesn't matter how many times you look at that diagram in the book, your tree just looks nothing like it! Here is my simple version of how to prune your apple tree. First you need to be aware of the reasons for pruning.  To maintain the health of the plant/tree To control the shape or size To encourage flowers and fruit and yields. Left un-pruned, growth becomes congested with older branches bearing fewer flowers and poor quality fruit. When to prune and pruning theory Winter pruning normally takes place when the tree...
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It has taken two days of frantic activity but finally Christmas has been packed away until next year. The marquee is down and has left a very sad looking patch of grass which I am sure will soon recover. The ice rink has gone and all the lights from the winter wonderland have been packed away. But don't despair, we have plenty more activities on the horizon. Check the website for information about the Bampfylde lecture on the 28th Feb- it looks like a really interesting one by Sarah Osbourne about 18th century medical recipes. And Tomos the miller is on...
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I am probably speaking far to soon and I'm sure that the snowy cold weather will soon find its way over to us but in the garden there are already signs of new growth and spring. Look at this fabulous witch hazel flowering away in the shrubbery. The Hellebores are just starting to show their pretty faces and the first of the snowdrops are poking their heads up too. Below is winter aconite whose flowers wait for a bit of sunshine to open up. And then thee are the tough old shrubs that also put on a good show through the...
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Come and experience the gardens in a brand new light with our winter wonderland walk. Its absolutely stunning and is a great anti-dote to the winter blues. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas from the gardens team...
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from left to right: Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' Pyracantha rogersiana Bergenia x schmidtii Escallonia rubra var. macrantha Othonna cheirifolia Bergenia cordifolia 'Purpurea'...
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When we first got our glasshouses they seemed huge. The possibilities were endless. We were going to have so much more SPACE. But it turns out big is never big enough and they are full- and I mean FULL. If you are about to buy a glasshouse, or a shed, and are trying to decide what size to go for my advise is 'go large'. Go as large as you can afford because you will fill it! We've been getting ready for the frosts. We have two large glasshouses and a polytunnel- non of which have any heat- so we have...
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Philip gave us a tour of our 'new house' today and for some of us it was our first peek at the past, and to the future of Hestercombe. As you can imagine the house is a vast project. Parts of it are amazing while other parts are very 'officey' looking through years of County Council activity. But for me the most exciting part is the views down onto the garden!....    Not only can you really appreciate the Jekyll and Lutyens teamwork, but also the Victorian bedding looks great viewed from above....
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from left to right:   Leycesteria formosa- Himalayan honeysuckle or pheasant berry Jasminum nudiflorum- winter jasmine Cornus alba 'Siberica'- dogwood Ruscus aculeatus- Butchers broom Liquidambar styraciflua Artemesia ludoviciana Cotoneaster integrefolius Olea europaea- olive...
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In meetings Oliver White has often described me as a lioness protecting my pride. It's not a bad description as I am protective of them - but also I am very very proud of them. I happen to have employed a super talented bunch of people. Not just talented gardeners, they all have super skills outside of work. Did you know that Oliver runs a farm when not at work- www.farmtofork.co.uk and rears geese, lambs and beef? Ben Knight runs a small holding with his family and is a talented carp fisherman. Jo could now work as a wedding planner I'm...
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The really cold spell is yet to strike so there is still some good colour on the leaves around Hestercombe.      Come and enjoy the soft, low sunlight while you can....
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