Hillersdon House, Cullompton – Michael Lloyd Esq
Hillersdon is a young garden, restored after many years of neglect with huge energy and enthusiasm by Michael Lloyd. The house was built in the late 1840s in a slightly more prominent site than its predecessor, overlooking two lakes, parkland and distant Cullompton. Terraces, anchoring the house into the hillside, are planted with beds of lavender and Gaura and lead to a vista of double borders framing an Ionic temple at the end of the kitchen garden. Above this, a stumpery links up to a grass terrace walk along the side of the valley. It is backed by a spectacular line of sweet chestnuts, probably planted in the 17th century, whose trunks, twisted and fluted with maturity, have become living sculptures. A woodland garden, newly planted with the original 100 varieties of Rhododendrons that Hooker and Wilson brought back to the UK in the mid 1800s, leads down to a wood and cob temple, whose columns are reflected in the water of the lake.
Cadhay, Ottery St Mary – Rupert Thistlethwaite Esq and Caroline Prior
Cadhay is a 16th and early 17th century courtyard house behind an 18th century façade and indeed the courtyard, with its flint and sandstone chequerwork pattern, is, as Pevsner remarks, “exceedingly pretty”. The two-acre gardens which wrap round the house and the medieval stewponds, date from the early 20th century. Topiaried yews strut across the lawn below the Long Gallery, double herbaceous borders draw the feet down to the ponds and the woodland gardens beyond. These are planted with Rhododendrons and Azaleas followed by a succession of later-flowering shrubs and perennials. The extensive kitchen garden to one side of the house has been triumphantly brought back to life and productivity by being partially let out as carefully controlled allotments.
South Wood Farm, Cotleigh – Dr Clive Potter
In 2005 Arne Maynard was commissioned to design the garden around South Wood Farm. He decided to create the feel of a yeoman farmer’s garden around the ancient thatched hall house. A wooden gate leads into the first garden, a sheltered space by the house, protected by walls and espaliered crab apples, with a central topiaried bay tree and tables of clipped yew to balance the rich planting of Allium, Thalictrum, lupins and Rosa ‘Felicity Parmentier’. A plum and damson orchard leads into the kitchen garden, where vegetables happily rub shoulders with cut flowers and where soft fruit is grown in individual wooden fruit cages. Behind the house, the garden becomes less formal and merges imperceptibly into the wooded landscape.