Yeo Valley Organic Garden

The other week I spent  lovely 4 days with a group of friends exploring the gardens of Somerset and Wiltshire.  One of the gardens I was quietly looking forward to seeing was the Yeo Valley Organic Garden which we were due to see on our way home.

I’ve been aware of this garden for some time now.  It regularly features in magazines and on television sometimes because of its gravel garden and sometimes because it is one of only a handful of certified ornamental gardens in the country. Interestingly, their plants come from a small organic nursery just over the hill from me.

You arrive at the garden, nestled in the beautiful Yeo Valley, through the organic diary (I eat their yoghurt every morning).  You enter through a corridor of hedges, past a stunning greenhouse full of exotics and seedlings, a vegetable garden.  Where oh where was the gravel garden?  Past some yellow themed herbaceous borders.

Very nice and interesting use of yellow foliage.

Turn right past the grass border – lovely especially on a windy day such as when we visited. And then you go up the driveway to the house and round a corner and wow!

You can get a fantastic overview on entering if you go up the small mount with the viewpoint on the top (see top photo).

The gravel garden was planted up in 2011 and I just love its abundance.  This is my sort of garden. Swathes of perennials with plenty of space for them to grow tall and strong, merging into each other creating an amazing tapestry.

There’s a pond in the garden singing with damsel flies.

The farmhouse provides a focal point for the garden and it almost feels as though the house provides the backdrop for the garden rather than the garden providing the backdrop for the house.

Oh and off to one side is the birch grove with shade loving planting, a perennial meadow and an annual meadow which had just been recently tilled.

And all of this has been done organically with no pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals.

It was my favourite garden of the whole trip.  I have so many photos of the gravel garden which is always a sign that I loved it.   I have included just a handful of my favourite photos in this post but if you are down in Somerset I would really recommend making a small detour to visit this garden – it has a great cafe as well.

Wordless Wednesday: Bishops Palace Gardens, Wells

Cothay – a garden waiting to be discovered

Last week I posted about my visit to East Lambrook and Coleton Fishacre the other weekend but the best garden of the weekend was one we nearly didnt got to.  I wasn’t feeling too good on our return trip and it was touch and go whether we would visit Cothay Manor Gardens or whether we would continue up the motorway.  Thank goodness we did decide to wind our way down  some  Somerset country roads which got progressively smaller until G was convinced we were off the right road.  Finally we found the entrance, paid our dues and found ourselves in a meadow area with some clipped hedges off to one side.

The meadow lead down to a stream , we came to the conclusion that some of the stream was man made as at one point there were brick ramparts. From the stream we were lead back towards the house where we entered the main gardens.  This is when I fell in love with the gardens and was also surprised that this was my reaction since I have never been one for the garden room approach prefer wide open spaces.  The garden is divided into a number of garden rooms ranging in size and shape each with a different theme, although being April it was too early for many of the plants to be at their best so we were really looking at the bare bones.

We were a little perplexed about the garden’s history.  To us it felt like a garden that the owner was trying to resurrect.  The hedges were beautifully maintained but there was definately some very remedial pruning to shrubs in places.  We also realised that they had succumbed to box blight which must be very distressing given the amount of box hedging in the garden.  Later research told me that the owners had bought the property 15 years ago and were trying to restore it and the gardens were the main income generator.

There were lots of long vistas such as the one above which in a week or so will be full of white tulips.  There was a lovely 1920s style swimming pool in one of the rooms, a formal pool in another.  As I have said we were looking at the bare bones of the garden.  I am used to seeing gardens at their peak so I found it fascinating to see how the structure of the garden was formed.

What struck both of us was the atmosphere in the garden.  This is a garden off the beaten track, I think we saw one other couple and a family group in the time we were there.  It almost felt like it was our private garden.  For me there was a sense of holding your breath waiting for the garden to burst into life which I am sure it will  do in  a couple of weeks.

Having explored the maze of garden rooms we came out onto a lawned area at the back of the estate cottages (above).  Here there is a lovely long greenhouse full to bursting with the owner busily propogating plants inside.  There is also a nice tea room which does an excellent crab salad.

Cothay Manor garden is a garden that needs our support, to my mind it has all the makings of a great garden give a bit of time.  We will definately be going back to visit in the future, its not far from junction 27 of the M5 so good as a mid journey stop on the way south.