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CONTACT DETAILS FOR THIS GROUP:

Anne Mayes

email: a.c.mayes@exeter.ac.uk

Welcome to new and existing members of the Group. I’m writing this on one the wettest days this year/winter but plants are springing into life; daffodils, snowdrops, camellias and miscari are all out. I shall try to arrange roughly one visit per month between March and October. I am choosing a mixture of days, where I can, to try and be helpful, but I know that whatever I choose it won’t be convenient for everyone, similarly for venues. We go whatever the weather forecast, we’ve a pretty good record, even during wet years.

I enclose details of the first four visits for this season. I hope there is something here to interest you. When it comes to directions, I give those from the Yellow Book or the appropriate website, the postcode and the map reference, so don’t blame me if you get lost! Everything in italics I’ve copied from the literature.

I’ve managed again to arrange parking at The Toby Inn, Middlemoor for our first visit by coach. It is free and there is a loo if you slip in quietly. Parking is in the rear car park, off Rydon Lane not off the Sidmouth Road. The H bus and Sidmouth buses go out to Middlemoor. According to Google it’s a 12 min walk from Sowton and Digby Station.
As usual I’ve got lots of ideas for visits and I’ve tried to bear in mind that many of you say you like having a house to see as well. Not always possible though.

Anne

For all visits please let me know by email first.


See below for a summary of the visits. Full details can be found in Anne's Newsletter, which you can download from this link.

Forthcoming Meetings

Monday 26th March

Caerhays Castle and Gardens

The first visit will be to Caerhays Castle and Gardens, on Monday 26th March. The castle is English Heritage Outstanding Grade 1 designed by John Nash and the 140 acre gardens were made famous by the Williams family. They hold the National Collection of magnolias containing over 600 species. The award winning Burncoose Nursery further west is also connected to Caerhays. There is also a beach so you could bring a bucket and spade if so inclined! Combined admission price for a group is £13, I have booked a 27 seater coach (the alternative was 49) and the price for that will be £16 per person. I have booked tours of the castle but not of the garden. The Magnolia café serves lunches and teas. The coach will leave from the Toby Inn at Middlemoor at 9.00am and return about 6pm. I have arranged parking, as last year, it is in the rear car park. The Digby and Sowton station is ten mins walk away and the Sidmouth bus, the 9/9A and H go to Middlemoor.

I must ask you to send me a cheque, made payable to the University of Exeter for £29 pp, as soon as possible as I have the bookings on a provisional basis. Please book as soon as you can, that would be really helpful! If you email me first to check availability I can then tell you where to send the cheque.

Anne


Tuesday 17th April

Endsleigh Gardens [PL19 0PQ OS 201 398783]

On the M5 heading south, turn off at Junction 31 and follow the A30 west signed to Okehampton. Take the Launceston (A388) turn off. Go round the roundabout and get back on the A30 East towards Callington. Take the first exit and follow signs for Tavistock (B3362). Continue through Milton Abbot; at the brow of the hill next to the school turn right. Pass the garden centre and Hotel Endsleigh is the next right. This is a new RHS Partner Garden (unfortunately there is no reduction for members though).

Entrance is £5, unless you book lunch or tea, when it’s free. Tea is £20, I didn’t check lunch. Booking meals is up to you! I suggest we meet at the entrance at 14.00hrs


Wednesday 2nd May

East Lambrook Gardens South Petherton [TA13 5HH, OS 193 431189]

Meet at 14.00 hrs at the entrance. Cost £5.50

To find East Lambrook Manor Gardens and the Malthouse, please turn off the A303 at South Petherton in Somerset and follow the brown & white tourist ‘flower’ signs into the centre of East Lambrook village. A303 2miles 4 mins.


Thursday 28th June

Hole's Meadow, South Zeal [EX20 2JS]

4½m from Okehampton on B3260, 4m from Whiddon Down. Signed from main street when open. Half way between the King's Arms and Oxenham Arms and opp village hall. A minute’s fairly level walk along private path.

Meet at the entrance at 14.00 hrs. Admission £4, teas priced at the time.

Cream teas available.

This is another visit arranged just for us so I need a reasonable number. Please let me know if you intend to come.

(Both Inns have very good reviews if you’re thinking of lunch beforehand ... )


Tuesday 24th July

Squirrels, Torquay

Wednesday 15th August

Great Ambrook

I have arranged a visit to Great Ambrook on Wed 15th August at 14,00 hrs. We will be shown round by the garden historian Angela Dodd-Crompton. This is an Italian Garden originally attached to the Great Ambrook estate, built between 1909 and 1912. It has had a chequered history since but has now achieved Grade II listed status by English Heritage.

More details with the programme for the second half of the year, I just wanted to let you know the date.


Sunday 2nd September

Sedgewell Coach House Gardens

Thursday 27th September

Plaz Metaxu, Witheridge

?October

Lukesland for autumn colour.



Reports for 2018

Caerhays Castle - March
CaerhayesTravel proved a much more dominant feature of this visit than we would have wished. Starting with getting to Middlemoor, Exeter was full of queues - more so than usual - and many of us didn’t arrive as early as we had expected to.
The journey down also took longer than expected as the coach-specific sat nav was very optimistic about the route to be taken. I don’t think many of us expected to get round the last bend which was a very narrow, right angled one. The tension was palpable and we all broke into applause when the driver finally inched his way round it. Unfortunately, despite following the approved coach route back, we encountered another tight bend and so another 15 mins of “excitement” before we cleared that. Then we had to come back via the A38, slower than the A30 but that had been closed because of a fatal accident.

CaerhayesWe arrived at the beach entrance but the driver missed the vehicular drive to the Castle so we walked up but it was rather a long walk for some. The much longed for morning coffee had to wait as we were already quite late for the house tour. The staff were very understanding and welcomed us warmly. After the introduction to the whole group we were divided into two each with a guide. Both were very informative going through the history of the building and its contents, telling us what the various owners had done, demonstrating the changes which John Nash had made when he was employed to make substantial alterations and additions. We weren’t hurried round and there were many offers to sit on the chairs. Some members were very pleased to be able to recognise some of the artists before they were revealed.

Lunch was next and The Magnolia Cafe soon filled up but fortunately there was plenty of room outside. Service was quick and friendly.

CaerhayesCaerhayesThen to the gardens. There are different coloured routes according to length. Unfortunately because of the recent weather many of the paths were roped off which made for some interesting backtracking. The many camellias were fine but two visits from the Beast from the East caught the National Collection of Magnolias at exactly the wrong time. A great pity as, in full bloom, these gardens are magnificent. Caerhays is on the coast, is sheltered and has its own micro climate, it is very rare for them to be affected by bad weather. We had to look at the Guide and Burncoose Nursery catalogue to see what we’d missed.

However, it was an enjoyable day, everyone we came across was very helpful and made us feel welcome and our driver was very skilled and patient in dealing with the narrow lanes. The coach too was very comfortable and had a loo and USB charging points! Memo to self, next time, take a cable.
ACM
Hotel Endsleigh Gardens - April
What a difference a day would have made! Our day was one which confused even the forecasters - it was much wetter, windier and mistier than forecast. Seventeen of us though made our way through the weather buoyed up by the promise of a drier afternoon- it didn’t materialise.
EndsleighEndsleighThe drive to the Hotel was a mile long but was flanked by huge, colourful rhododendrons, a good start. We were greeted in the hall of the hotel and were warmed both by a reduction in the admittance price to £3 and by a roaring fire. Thus fortified we set off following the signs to the garden.
The gardens are either side of the house and are very different. Unfortunately those to the west had many steps down to the stream at the bottom but they were wet and there were no handrails. This made it a little tricky for some. It was very beautiful, even in the rain. There were numerous gunnera just breaking into growth with bright green leaves.
EndsleighEndsleighThe gardens to the east were easier with a large lawn and very long border - the longest continuous herbaceous border in England. It does eventually drop down to the River Tamar and, on a fine day, has a glorious view. The trouble here was that it was very exposed to the strong gusts of wind and near horizontal rain which didn’t make it very inviting. The grounds are the home to many Champion trees too. Three brave souls did complete that but the rest of us either retired soaked or dried out in the hotel with either the afternoon tea or a cup of tea. Four headed off to Tavistock for tea at The Bedford, muddy shoes and all.
Driving back was through thick mist in places, a real pity, this would be a great garden to see in good weather.
ACM
East Lambrook Manor Gardens - May
LambrookLambrookNormal service was fortunately resumed and there wasn't a drop of rain all day, in fact we all sat outside to eat our tea - in the sunshine- it was warmer out than in.
Traffic was light so we all made good time. This meant that some headed into the Rose and Crown for lunch, others sat in the car park eating their sandwiches.
At 2pm we headed over to the garden to a very friendly and informal reception. There was a pile of Country Garden magazines, very helpful as the current issue had a coupon for tea and cake at the Garden.
LambrookLambrookThe gardens were a delight, full of colour and naturalness. We were amazed to find so many plants in flower, it must be very sheltered. The tulips were a particular delight, gorgeous colours and shapes and I think we saw them at exactly the right time, another day or two and they’d have Lambrookblown. The bluebells above the stream added colour to the bank and the wisteria was in flower on the end wall.
 After an amble round the various parts of the garden we spent some time admiring, pondering and then buying plants. There was a good selection.
Suitably exhausted we collected our teas/coffee/drinking chocolate and cake and took it up to the higher terrace to sit in the sun.
A couple of us took a wrong turn on the way back - why do places have ample signage to get you there, but nothing to get you out?! We were fine until the one way system!
All in all a very enjoyable visit.
ACM

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