Motivated by the magnificent RHS Chelsea Flower Show we’ve picked out some of our favourite go-to gardens for green-fingered inspiration.
RHS Rosemoor – 65 acres of wonderful gardens to visit time and time again,whatever the season.
Hestercombe – Spanning three centuries of garden design within 50 acres, the Victorian Shrubbery, the Georgian Landscape Garden and the Edwardian Formal Gardens all offer a different experience.
Greencombe – Beautiful small organic garden in Porlock open April til end July.
Broomhill Sculpture Gardens – Magnificent sculptures dot the slopes, slumber beside the stream and hide amongst the woodland and wild gardens in a glorious valley full of surprises.
Marwood Hill Gardens – These magical private gardens are home to three lakes and an impressive selection of plants, shrubs and trees
Of course, Exmoor is often described as one big garden. Local enthusiast Ian Mabbutt describes his ‘Exmoor garden’.
Locals and visitors alike are amazed by and blessed with the variety and luxuriance of Exmoor’s garden. In its entirety, Exmoor is one big garden, an ever-changing joy and inspiration in its infinite variety for humans and a source of food and shelter for all the variety of wildlife that call Exmoor ‘home’.
What grows in the Exmoor garden varies with altitude, season and topography. In the farmed areas, the biggest influence on the Exmoor garden is topography which has been only modestly – but significantly – altered by man with the creation of hedges.
Exmoor hedges are usually 1.5m tall banks of stone and earth, with ditches either side, and a variety of native trees growing on top. These hedges break the wind and shield the sun creating a variety of habitat, in which different plants and animals thrive. With limited use of fertilizer or pesticides and perhaps only one grass cut a year, this variety of habitat produces a seasonal garden of wildflowers, grasses, mosses and lichens, brackens and herbs at ground level. Above, the treescape produces nuts, seeds and berries together with tree litter replenishment for the ground below.
Exmoor’s wildlife makes its home at ground level, in this tree litter, in holes in the hedge bankings and in the hedgerow above.
In Exmoor’s moorland areas, topography and season rule – with the variety of vegetation determined by the undulation of land – not hedges. The contrast between the tree free, heather clad, wind and sun swept southern slopes of Dunkery Beacon and the calm, sunfree, deeply carved valleys on its northern slopes, with ferns and lichens in oak woodland, provides a perfect example of topography at work. As the seasons change, animal life follows the cycle – Exmoor’s own migration.
In this variety of natural garden habitat – untamed and untameable – live the insects, butterflies, birds, small and large animals for which Exmoor is famous. It’s a whole – an eco-system. Changing a part will produce knock on effects – like a chip on a cog in the gearbox of a car – the gearbox may work for a while, the whole may compensate, but stresses will emerge. It is this garden landscape which provides the all year round food and shelter that wildlife needs – be they nectar, bug, grass, seed, nut or flesh eaters.