A Rare Treat


Walking up the hill to the garage Mike announced that we were in for a rare treat. We’ve had a few days out recently. With the fabulous weather enjoyed this autumn it would have been rude not to. And the destination was somewhere rather pleasant. But I did still wonder what he had in mind.

“Wife is paying for lunch.”

It seems that one of my cards is about to expire and to avoid being struck off as Missing In Action it was time for me to put something through it. “In that case it’ll be a large glass of wine for me today, no being fobbed off with a ‘medium’..”



Knightshayes, nr Tiverton, Devon


And so, after a very pleasant lunch at the Hartnoll Hotel, with (large) glass of Pinot, we continued on to Knightshayes.

Sir John Heathcoat and his family moved to Tiverton in 1816, after their lace making business in Loughborough was destroyed. It was Sir John’s grandson, John Heathcoat Amory, who commissioned the building of the house. It was designed by a renowned architect of the day, William Burges. Burges was well known for his eccentricity, demonstrated in the Victorian Gothic masterpiece he created (edited from National Trust website).



No photography is permitted inside.



But it was the gardens that we had mainly come to see

Topiary is a strong feature at Knightshayes. So immaculate was the clipping here that I had to go up and stroke it, just to make sure it was real.



A fox crafted from yew

All around the hedge there are hounds in pursuit, reflecting the Heathcoat Amorys’ passion for countryside sports.



The Pool Garden



Willow sculptures join the topiary today




The formal areas of the garden are surrounded by extensive woodlands. The Garden In The Wood is beautiful and especially inspiring for me as it is exactly what I’d like to achieve at home.



The last member of the family to live in the house was Joyce Wethered, both a respected gardener and a world championship golfer winning the English ladies title four times. Was it she who shared my love of Hydrangea paniculata? There are a number of stunning specimens in the woodland.




Leaves are just starting to turn..



But the highlight of it all must be The Walled Garden

Restored by the Trust in 2001 the four acres within these walls are packed with blooms and vegetables.  Specialising in varieties of produce grown in Victorian times, the garden has a vast collection of heritage crops which are now almost extinct.



There’s even a small vineyard




Goosie Lucie, Victoria and Albert, and Tufty



Perfectly positioned on the return journey to the car there’s an extensive Plant Centre. Had I mentioned that to Mike? I can’t remember..

On this occasion no pots fell into my basket.



I couldn’t leave completely empty handed though, could I?