Monday, June 27, 2011


Leaving Salisbury late in the afternoon we drove to Ilminster, in Somerset. I had booked us in at a B&B just outside of the town and on the edge of the village of Broadway. I had planned for us to visit several gardens in the area. The following morning, after another ample breakfast, we drove through the country lanes of Somerset to the the privately owned garden of the late Margery Fish in East Lambrook.


Margery Fish, gardener, plantswoman and author didn't take up gardening until the age of 40. It became her second career. She and her husband Walter moved from London into this 15th century manor house in 1938. She then took on the design of the garden which she planted from then until her death in 1969. The house remained in the family for some years before it was purchased by Robert and Marianne Williams. Neither had any experience with gardening and here they were with this Grade1 listed building and a garden and nursery they must open to the public. They set about restoring the gardens to their former glory. In 2008 the house was sold again to Mike and Gail Werkmeister who agreed to keep the gardens open to the public.

Mrs Fish favored a relaxed style of gardening, growing old-fashioned annuals, perennials, shrubs and roses along with more contemporary plants in close proximity; the quintessential cottage garden. Following the World War 11, people could no longer afford to pay gardeners to take care of their formal gardens and they turned to this more approachable style of gardening. She became renowned for her style of gardening which is considered to be the home of English Cottage gardening. The garden is known for its collection of snowdrops and geraniums.

The garden proved to be not the easiest garden to photograph in the bright morning sunlight.

The once malthouse has been converted into a tea room and gallery.

Wicker-work is something you see a good deal in English gardens.

Astrantis everywhere. With a reputation as a promiscuous self seeder it sounds perfect for my garden! I wonder if they would grow here?

Lots of unfamiliar plants.

The ditch and pathway running alongside the malthouse.

The top lawn. To complete the visit we admired the paintings of Lambrook garden flowers by Kaye Parmenter and purchased a small watercolor of snowdrops as a reminder of a pleasant early morning in the garden.

The gardens of Tintinhull were the creation of Phyllis Reiss during the last century.

A plaque on the side wall of the house suggests that this house has been in the hands of the National Trust for some time.

The brick walls must have been added to enclose the house and gardens. The front door, which is now at the back of the house, leads to the gardens.

The lichen covered steps, by the now front door, which step down into the garden.

From the steps looking down the path...

and then back to the house. The formality of this garden is evident by clipped boxwoods and yews.
The fountain garden lies at the far end of the path.

The pool garden.

I thought the vegetable garden was one of the best I had ever seen.

Beds lined with catmint.

Neat rows of broad beans, onions and beets, to name a few.

The plant stand.

By now it was lunch-time so we bought a sandwich in the cafe, which we supplemented with fruit and chocolate biscuits, and ate at the picnic tables in the field by the car park. We were to visit Montacute House next.


It had not been in our original plans to visit Montacute but we were in the vicinity, so why not?

The house as built by Sir Edward Phelips between 1588 and 1601. The house and estate have been in the ownership of the National Trust since 1931.

From the entrance to the estate a gravel path leads alongside a gothic inspired wall. A gate in the wall leads into the East Court.

The inside of the court is taken up by a large expanse of lawn with gravel paths all around and planting beds along the edges. Originally a driveway would have led up to the front door.

Visitors would have entered up a long driveway and though the gates flanked on either sides by these 'pudding houses'. This strange name comes for Tudor times when it was the fashion for guests to retire to these houses for their pudding or dessert.

Inscription over the front door.

Original glass windows.

I was fascinated by the latin poem etched into the window and dated 1776.
Montacute is famous for its Elizabethan and Jacobean portraits which are located some of which are to be found int he long gallery. They are on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. No photographs allowed.

Clipped Irish yews.

The wobbly hedge, a creation of nature. Following a severe snow in the winter of 1947 parts of the hedge collapsed and never recovered.

As it was only 3:00pm we decided to drive on down to the coast, to Lyme Regis. I really wanted to go look for ammonites on the beach. This stretch of coast line, know as the Jurassic Coast, is a World Heritage Site, and know for its fossils.

The pebbly beach at Lyme Regis.

Above the promenade a beautiful rock garden.

Now if only....

We were going to walk to the far end of the beach in the hunt for ammonites.

This is where you find them on the tidal flats. How lucky we were that it was low tide.

Lots of other people looking too.

Here's a nice one.

and hundreds more.

We then walked out along the harbor(harbour) wall known as the 'cobb' The same one that Meryl Streep walked out onto in the opening scene of The French Lieutenant's Woman and also used by Jane Austen in Persuasion.

Looks like the thing to do for dinner tonight. I wonder if they will be in newspaper, like when we were children.

Oh! Very fancy, and a glass of wine too. We certainly packed a lot into this day. Now it was time to beat it back to Ilminster in time to watch the Chelsea Flower Show on TV. Perfect end to a perfect day.


  1. Oh, what amazing gardens! I hope you stole a few Astrantis seeds!!! I bet it will grow in your gardens!

    Love the rock garden pics colorful and lovely!

    Your fish sandwiches and wine looked perfect!

  2. What a wonderful place to visit! The red really looks stunning up against the grayish rocks.

  3. The favorite thing I've seen in all of these amazing gardens so far is the *wobbly hedge*. I LOVE that hedge!!

    and the last photo made me hungry...

  4. Those are just awesome pictures of awesome nice gardens.
    It's very interesting to see the old houses and then the interesting english garden designs with for us totally different plants.
    Like Alan already said, the "wobbly hedge" is just amazing.
    Thanks for sharing those great pictures. It was really a pleasure to read your post.
    Best Wishes
    Paula Jo

  5. I love the wobbly hedge; I'm so glad nobody "tidied it up"! And I hadn't realised ammonites were so big.
    Your photos again have carried me there into those wonderful gardens.

  6. Did you find any ammonites? Those big ones are amazing. I love seeing your smiling husband in photos. He always seems to be having a wonderful time. He must be a delightful traveling companion.