Tag Archives: public garden

Killerton House, National Trust property in Devon

Killerton is an 18th-century house near Exeter in Devon. In 1944 it was given to the National Trust by British politician Sir Richard Acland.

Sir Richard was was one of the founding members of the British Common Wealth Party. He was an advocate of public land ownership and he gave his Killerton and Holnicote estates to the National Trust out of principle, and also to ensure that the estates remained safe and unspoiled for all time.

The following stills are from the video.

Killerton House, National Trust, Devon

At the time this was the largest single acquisition in the Trusts history. With a total of 17,000 acres, the estates were estimated to be worth £250,000. That’s the equivelent of £4,000,000 in todays money. Sir Richard, who was then 36, said of his future “My income will depend solely on what I earn as an M.P. and a writer. I shall be a working man and nothing else.”

Killerton House, National Trust, Devon

The summerhouse was renamed ‘the bear’s hut’ because in the 1860’s it was used to house a black bear called Tom, which had been brought to Killerton by the 12th Baronet’s brother, Gilbert, on his return from Canada.

Killerton House, National Trust, Devon

Although the Killerton Estate came to the Trust in 1944, the house didn’t open to the public until 1978. In 1944 the house was cleared of furniture to make way for two evacuated schools. Post-war the house was used firstly as a hotel for the Worker’s Travel Association, who’s aim was to provide affordable holidays for working people and their families. Later it became a hall of residence for St Luke’s College of Education.

When the Trust opened the house to the public in 1978 there was little of the original furniture left.
The ground floor of the house has been re-furnished as it would have been in the early part of the 20th century, when the Acland family were still in residence.

There were no pictures to show what the bedrooms looked like. So when Killerton was offered a costume exhibition, it was decided to use the upstairs of the house for the displays. Since then they have always had a themed fashion exhibition on display.

Camera: Sony RX100 V.

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Tyntesfield National Trust house and gardens

Tyntesfield is a Victorian Gothic Revival house near Bristol. The mansion was built in the 1830s. It was later bought by English businessman William Gibbs, whose huge fortune came from importing guano (bird droppings) used as fertilizer. In the 1860s Gibbs had the house expanded and remodelled. The architectural style selected for the rebuilding was a loose Gothic, combining many forms and reinventions, of the medieval style. The choice of Gothic was influenced by William Gibb’s Anglo-Catholic beliefs as a follower of the Oxford Movement. This movement advocated the revival of the medieval Gothic style, and “a return to the faith and the social structures of the Middle Ages”. We visited in May 2018.

The following stills are from the video.

Tyntesfield garden

In 2002 the Tyntesfield estate came up for auction following the death of its owner and the substantial death duties that became payable. Concerned with the demolition and desecration of various historic country houses in recent years, the National Trust launched a “Save Tyntesfield” campaign. It collected £8 million in just 100 days, with £3 million from the public plus two substantial anonymous donations of £1 million and £4 million. The Trust also received £17 million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. The National Lottery earmarked a further £25 million for the major conservation work needed.

Tyntesfield walled garden

The National Trust purchased the house, the kitchen garden, and the park. Starting out with a staff of 30 volunteers in 2002, recently the total of employed and volunteer staff exceeded 600, this is more than the number engaged by any other National Trust property.

Tyntesfield National Trust

The initial conservation work focused around weatherproofing the house. The repair of the roof, including the restoration of the original bold red and black tiled geometric pattern. The entire property was rewired. Much of the original lead piping was replaced and a fireproofing scheme implemented. These initial works cost more than £10 million, much of which was raised through donations, via the “Save Tyntesfield” campaign, and the sale of lottery tickets to visitors.

At first the Trust had been reluctant to allow visitors to the house, while work was underway, especially taking into account the costs of Health and Safety requirements, and the delays these could cause to the essential preservation work. But the need for cash dictated the answer, and the Trust learnt that, through giving the public close access to the preservation work, they actually gave more additional donations as a result of seeing where their money was going, and how they were making a difference.

Camera: Sony RX100 V.

Ascott National Trust gardens

Ascott, Wing, Buckinghamshire is a half-timbered house originating from 1606, transformed by the Rothschilds in the late 19th century. The extensive gardens, are an attractive mix of the formal and natural with specimen trees, shrubs and beautiful herbaceous borders. We visited in August 2017.

The following stills are from the video.

Ascott National Trust gardens Ascott National Trust gardens Ascott National Trust gardens Ascott National Trust gardens

Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire

The Stowe National Trust property in Buckinghamshire features gardening on the grandest scale. Picture-perfect views, winding paths, lakeside walks and temples create a timeless landscape, reflecting the changing seasons. Full of hidden meaning, the gardens were created as an earthly paradise and still cast their spell today. We visited in August 2017.

The following stills are from the video.

Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire Stowe Gardens Buckinghamshire

Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire – the gardens in August

We visited this National Trust property in August 2017. The Tudor-style house has a courtyard and gardens. This video features the large walled garden with its fortified tower built circa 1347. The walled garden is divided into separate areas featuring bedding plants, old-fashioned roses, shrubs, an area for ornamental fruit and vegetables and a maze without hedges.

The following stills are from the video.

Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire gateway
Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire sweetpeas
Greys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire thistleGreys Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire apples

Eden Project winter visit, the Mediterranean Biome

The entrance to the Mediterranean Biome is through an arch of pink bougainvillaea plants. It was cool compared to the Rainforest Biome (described in my previous post) and many people were returning to the cloakroom to collect their outdoor coats as soon as they realised.

The planting represents typical Mediterranean, South African and Californian gardens that have dry, thin soil. There were orange and grapefruit trees covered with ripe fruit. The Aloes were particularly impressive with their spiky succulent leaves and their tall red flowers. The Californian blossom tree was very pretty with its white flowers and orange stamens. Some man-made objects also caught my eye; a bright orange plant made from car exhaust pipes and some pigs made from driftwood. There were also some bronze figures representing Dionysus and other gods of the grape harvest.

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Eden Project winter visit, the Rainforest Biome

Our visit to the Eden Project took place on 5 January 2011. We arrived by coach in a shower of rain. The gardens and Biomes are built in a disused clay pit. This was our second visit, the first being in 2001 soon after the gardens opened to the public. A short downhill walk took us from the coach park to the entrance. Thankfully much of this was under a covered walkway. We emerged from the entrance building at the top of the old clay pit and had a magnificent view of the spectacular Biomes.

A footpath winds down through the gardens towards the Biomes. Being the depths of winter there was little to see in the way of flowers in the outside gardens. However, once inside the Biomes there was plenty to look at.

We started with the Rainforest Biome. Since it was raining very hard outside there was a very realistic damp atmosphere. I am not sure if it was condensation dripping from the roof or if there were tiny leaks here and there in the roof but there was certainly dripping water in places. There was not enough to spoil our enjoyment but enough to add to the atmosphere of the place.

The plants inside the Rainforest Biome are wonderful. The path winds up through tropical plantings representing rainforests of various parts of the world including Malaysia, West Africa and South America. The temperature inside the dome during our visit was around 30 degrees centigrade. I understand that it can get much hotter in the summer, particularly as you get nearer the top of the dome.

There are banana plants, rubber plants pineapple plants and all manner or tropical flowers in bloom. As you go round notices explain the crops that are produced with the pros and cons of the effect on the environment. It is good that food can be produced; it is bad that the rainforests of the world are being destroyed to produce the crops. It is a difficult equation to solve.

If you are in the area of the Eden Project I would thoroughly recommend a winter visit as an escape from the cold climate for a few hours.

Click on the pictures below to see a larger version.


The Manrique cactus garden on Lanzarote

This is the most unusual public garden I have visited. It is built on the site of a former volcano which became a quarry. On the island of Lanzarote they use the black volcanic ash particles in agriculture and also in the gardens. It spread over the ground to retain moisture, as shown in these pictures. The ash has the property of condensing water from the air as it cools during the night. The water runs into the soil below and the ash stops it evaporating during the day. Can you believe that so much volcanic ash was excavated from one volcano that it became a hole in the ground?

A Lanzarote artist and visionary called César Manrique created this cactus garden in what had become a dumping ground for rubbish. It houses a magnificent collection of cactuses from all around the world. Many of the cacti have grown to an enormous size, some as tall as a house.

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The Princess Beatrice Garden at Carisbrooke Castle

We visited the Princess Beatrice Garden at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight in June 2010. The garden was designed by Chris Beardshaw, who is a former presenter of Gardener’s World on BBC TV.

The garden was opened to the public on 4th June 2009. The Princess Beatrice garden has themed flower borders, standard fruit trees in large planters, a flower meadow planting and a fountain as its centrepiece.

Princess Beatrice lived at Carisbrooke Castle during regular visits to the island. She was Governor of the Isle of Wight from 1896 until her death in 1944. The walled garden became her private retreat.

Click on the small images below to see a larger version.