As the sunbeams pound down on the South West of England, off we ventured to discover the delights of Hestercombe Gardens. Located a short drive from the M5 and Taunton near Cheddon Fitzpaine.
Described as ‘paradise restored’ our expectations were high of the 50 acres of lakes, temples, cascades, woodland walks, formal terraces, vivid colours, and views that will take your breath away.
The gardens are made up of two primary areas, the landscape or informal part and the formal gardens originally designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and laid out by Gertrude Jekyll in the 1870s.
We chose to explore the informal gardens area first, a Georgian landscape created by Bampfylde in the 1750s. As with many English gardens, they were abandoned over time, but now faithfully restored and maintained by armies of professionals and dedicated volunteers with the same eye for beauty as their original designers.
Foxgloves were in abundance alongside the rich green woodland areas as the path winds its way around the edge of the valley. We found a beautiful spot above the Great Cascade to sit awhile, relaxed by the sound of falling water below our feet. One thing that is so evident is the beautiful bird song that is filling the trees around us.
At the far end of the gardens, we discovered the Chinese bridge which offered a perfect place to shade from the midday rays, whilst occupying ourselves with the water-borne capers of the local wildlife. The water levels were pretty low, but we think this is mainly due to the restoration work associated with the Watermill complex and Mill Pond.
There are various features incorporated into the landscaped gardens, the Witch House made for some interesting conversation, but we weren’t spellbound!
Overall we spent a couple of hours meandering the paths, enjoying the welcome shade, and waiting patiently for sightings of rare butterflies.
The Formal Gardens
The formal gardens comprise the victorian Terrace laid out by the first Viscount Portman between 1873 and 1878 and provides a beautiful vista over the Edwardian Formal garden below and views for miles beyond.
The layout and colours epitomise the traditional English garden style and a number of well-placed benches provide the perfect opportunity to sit awhile and enjoy.
The landscaping and vista combined to make this a beautiful and inspiring place to be whilst perhaps, admiring the original vision of the designers. The Orangery fits comfortably within the structure of the garden and the main house and is gifted a perfect lawn on which to catch up on that latest novel.
We enjoyed our first visit to Hestercombe’s fifty or so acres. Retiring ourselves to the Courtyard for a refreshing cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake, we pondered on when we would return to catch up on the latest restoration work around the Mill Pond.