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A garden visit with a difference this weekend..

I haven’t made nearly enough of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) this year. And that must change. Stately piles and the larger set piece gardens are spectacular and will always be a must see. But what if we also want to see just how much can be achieved with the resources and budget that us mere mortals have to play with? Then it’s the collection of (mostly) private gardens contained within the ‘Yellow Book’ to which we should turn. Lewis Cottage, near Crediton, Devon, must surely be one of the best places to start.

 
 

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The Rose Parterre

 

But it wasn’t just the more personal nature of this garden which was different.

The visit was organised through the Facebook and Twitter group All Horts, a bunch of people brought together through a shared love of horticulture. Putting faces to the people we chat with through a computer screen every night, how much fun is that? Enormous fun as it turned out. What a great group of folks. And already the Twitter stream is buzzing with ideas for our next escapade.

 
 

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Lewis Cottage will be a tough act to follow.

 
 

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Our hosts Michael, Penny and Richard were more than generous with their hospitality, welcoming us into their home* with proper coffee and delicious sandwiches, quiche and cake. The cottage itself has been refurbished with exquisite taste and was another huge source of inspiration. Mike chose to turn a deaf ear. (I was making notes though Dearest, never fear.)

Suitably refreshed we returned to the garden and the start of the tour.

 
 

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 The Hot Border looking resplendent in its late summer colours

 
 

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Oenothera biennis

 
 

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The Tea Shed

 
 

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There are some strong similarities between Lewis Cottage and chez rusty duck.. or at least there might be in ten years’ time!

It is sited on a slope descending, very steeply in places, into a woodland valley with a stream running through the bottom. The conditions are perfect for moisture loving plants with a great deal of ooh-ing and aarr-ing from the assembled throng.

 
 

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The planting in the woodland is well chosen, keeping the overall look wild and naturalistic. Hellebores, rhododendrons, solomon’s seal, pulmonarias and exotics find their place amongst the ferns, ivy, moss and native trees. It must be even more of a picture in Spring.

 
 

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Those of you who have been following me for a while will know of my love for ducks and geese. So imagine the pleasure of emerging from the woodland to this fabulous sight…

 
 

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Lewis Cottage is a garden made to relax in. Everywhere we wandered, benches and seating encourage a moment to stop, pause and enjoy the view. A bench placed at the water’s edge made The Dew Pond no exception.

 
 

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I could have sat there for hours

 
 

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Did I mention seating?

Note the conveniently placed bottle stand. We checked. It was empty.

 
 

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Persicaria alpina

 
 

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The Hornbeam Rondel

 

With many thanks to All Horts and particularly Michael, Penny and Richard for a splendid day.

See you all again in Spring!

 
 

*this was a privately organised visit, but Lewis Cottage (garden only) will be open again for the NGS over several weekends next year. There is also a plant sales area, to which I may have succumbed, and an online plant shop (here)

 
 

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