The Dutch Garden and Orangery at Hestercombe

We visited Hestercombe Gardens in Somerset earlier in the year, much earlier in the year, which explains the grey skies in some of these photos. In fact later on the day of our visit it snowed, and we ended up cutting short our weekend, which we learnt this past weekend was a good call as the Devon village where we were staying was cut off for three days. Or perhaps, we didn’t make the right call after all, depends on your viewpoint I guess…

This shot of the ornate garden was taken on the Dutch Garden side looking through to the Mill Pond, and it’s a hint at the formality and grandeur of the Dutch Garden.

A pretty gate to entice you in to this part of the garden at Hestercombe

Turning around, you can see the more formal planting, along with those grey snow-laden skies I mentioned before.

A moody and grey sky from the Dutch garden at Hestercombe

As you can see the planting had yet to spring into life, the pots would be full of tulips in the weeks to come, but not for our March visit. It’s at this time of year though that you can more easily see a garden’s structure, and I always think if it looks good without the plants, then it can only look better when they’re in flower.

large terracotta pots in the Dutch garden

We’ll have to go back again when there’s more in the garden, as I’m sure it will have a completely different feel. It’s a good garden to visit, so it won’t be any hardship, and you know how much I’m a fan of independent gardens as well as those of the RHS and National Trust.

We knew from the garden map that there was an Edwin Lutyens Orangery near to the Dutch Garden and looking to our right we quickly spotted it looking majestic a few steps away.

looking across to the orangery at Hestercombe

As with many of these gardens we visit, even the pathways have added interest and we discovered this to be the case as we walked past the in bud magnolia to see more of the Orangery.

fancy stonework on the pathway

And stepping inside was everything I expected an Orangery to be, and quite an elegant space.

heading inside the orangery

With citrus fruits too, although they had a way to go before picking I’m sure.

one of the fruits in the orangery
outside the orangery

The exterior uses Somerset’s yellow hamstone which even on the greyest of day has a great colour. Looking at the Hestercombe site, it’s available to hire for weddings, which seems a great use for the space, now I’m thinking I need to be a wedding guest there, but on a sunny day please!

The Edwardian Formal Garden at Hestercombe

It's about time I shared some of the photos from our trip to Hestercombe back in March. It's a garden that's been on my "to visit" list for a while, and had even got close to once before but only making it as far as the cafe after being caught in traffic unexpectedly.  Determined not to miss out again, our visit here was pencilled in for the day after our stop at the Bower Inn, so this time I was sure we'd make it into the garden. 

And despite the moody photo below, the weather spoiled us.  We were walking around the garden carrying our coats it was so warm, but little did we know that later that day we'd be dodging the hailstones at Castle Drogo.  Given the weather we've had more recently, I'm sure you can believe that.



The moody photo above is fully of symmetry isn't it, and the silhouettes of the statues against the sky, along with the reflections in the pool make it one of my favourite photos from our visit.  Throughout the gardens there was much to explore, and like the best gardens and the best gardening advice, almost at every turn there was something new to discover.

Encircling the pool was this stone wall that also housed the more formal nooks, whose weathering added to the whole effect. 


It was the sort of garden that while formal, also was a haven for lichen, and lichen lovers like me.  I was shuffled along by MOH after taking many photos, most likely all very similar, and all equally as lovely...



The plants, especially the cheery euphorbias, seemed to be enjoying the sun as much as we were.  Seeing them here and in other formal gardens is I hope, helping see their versatility.



Beyond the pool, there was a view down to the pergola.  And as you'd expect there was another of these on the right-hand side of the garden.


I couldn't help but peer over the wall to the fountain below, until MOH pointed out the sign which asked people to avoid leaning over the wall.  Oops.  Hoping the sign was there for safety and not because the wall was fragile, I still took a quick step back. 

Adding these photos to this post also made me smile at the memory, but also because quite unintentionally I've managed to line the flagstones up.  If only it was planned...

The last part of the formal garden I'm going to share is the pergola, the plants had yet to spring into life, but that did mean it was easy to see the structure.


The pillars were something else, and not the usual wooden structures, but more of the stonework in circular columns as well as the alternate square columns.  Take a closer look at the photo above, it's a small detail that many might miss, and I'm sure there's some significance, but I've no idea what.


There's plenty more gardens to share from Hestercombe and I plan to do that intermingled (I love that word) with the other gardens we've visited and all the other posts I have planned.

The Tropical zone in Cannington's glass houses

As the warmer weather appears to have deserted us again I've taken measures into my own hands and today I'm sharing pictures from our visit to the Tropical zone in Cannington's glass house.  It was grey and misty in London for most of today and while the warmer temperatures are forecast, I'd appreciate if they were here now.  I'm sure you would too!

The glass house was hot and humid, replicating the wet tropics of Indonesia and the Amazon Rainforest, I'm taking this post as a kind of acclimatising type of post in readiness and anticipation of less grey, less misty and more Spring-like weather.  

Even just writing this post I can feel the warmth as we stepped into this area, the temperatures aim to be between 26 and 28 degrees, tough hey?

Lush leaves in the tropical zone at Cannington

Warm, but lush. 

Just look at all the greens, and the odd burst of colour too.

Pops of colour in the jungle
speckled leaves enjoying the heat as much as me

As we walked around the small but densely planted space, something unusual caught my eye above me.  It was green, but not the usual green of plants. Taking a closer look, I was right, but no less curious. 

up above there was something strange and green

I don't think I've ever seen anything like it, and had no idea what it was. We thought it might be pepper, but we'd seen that at RHS Wisley and it wasn't this colour. 

Isn't the colour vibrant? And isn't it fascinating?

On closer inspection it was jade vine and as vibrant as it looks here

Thankfully there was a sign telling us it was a "Strongylodon macrobotrys" or more helpfully a Jade Vine.  I can see how it gets its name!

It's also commonly known as an Emerald Vine or Turquoise Jade Vine and is a native of the tropical forests of the Philippines.  Stems can be up to 18 metres in length and it's a member of the pea and bean family.  Can you imagine if I grew one of these on the allotment...

No me neither, especially in this weather.

colourful leaves in the jungle at cannington

But there was more colour for us to see before we headed back to the more temperate areas.  The pink, red and green leaves above, which I'm sure I've photographed before, most likely at Wisley and a much welcomed hibiscus. 

The prettiest hibiscus at Cannington in Somerset

Doesn't it look fresh and full of warmth.  So who knew that you could find such tropical-ness in a small part of Somerset which is well worth a visit if you're close by.  I'm sure you won't be disappointed, and the added bonus is that if it's a chilly day, like us, you can spend time discovering the peculiar, but wonderful Jade Vine.