Category Archives: Latest News

General Manager – recruiting now

The Trustees of The Garden House are looking for a General Manager to come and lead the team at our beautiful garden. We seek a progressive and innovative individual with a strong commercial focus, who can develop the many business opportunities at The Garden House, and significantly increase revenue.

Our friendly team of staff and volunteers are critical to us, and our first class garden the jewel that shines. Our new General Manager will have an intuitive understanding of this, will build strong relationships, and will create an environment for the garden to prosper.

Do you think you are that person? Can you take The Garden House through an exciting period of change and development? For more information have a look at the ‘Role Profile’ and ‘Additional Information’ documents below. To apply, please send your CV and a ‘Suitability Statement’ to:

Matt Jackson (Trustee)

Salary: circa £30,000 depending upon experience
Hours: Flexible, with a minimum of 25-30 per week when salary becomes pro-rata
Closing date: 21st April at 1600hr
Interviews: 2nd May at The Garden House

Download the two documents below for more information.

General Manager – Additional Information General Manager Role Profile – TGH – 2017

The Marsh-uns are coming

What to see in the garden in March

When I was thinking about what plant to feature this month I found myself listing the virtues of the Caltha palustris – or marsh marigold as; ‘easy to keep, wildlife attractors, good colour, virtually indestructible.’
All of which makes me feel very confident in recommending this native pond plant to any gardener with a patch of boggy ground or waterside planting place. Here on Dartmoor we’ve no shortage of wet ground to make these tough plants feel at home!
Marsh marigolds splash patches of bright yellow clumps around the lake and at the sides of our streams from mid-March for a month or so. They die back by summer and emerge again proudly to their 50cm height next spring. I enjoy seeing their bright green, heart-shaped leaves emerge, before the vivid flowers open.
They are in the buttercup family and although they have rhizomes they’ll spread by seed if left alone. They look very similar to buttercups with their yellow cupped single flowers but unlike their common cousins, they don’t spread vigorously or invasively.

Cows hate them, bees love them. I tend to garden for bees more than cows so I’m not bothered by their nasty taste. Early in the year they are a great source of food for wildlife and a welcome sign for gardeners that the season is stepping up a gear.
As long as their roots can stay wet they will be happy in any soil, or popped at the edge of a pond in an inch or two of water. They will do best in full sun, but don’t mind part shade. Hopefully you are getting the picture that if you keep them wet they are a very rewarding plant. If you have a small space, a plant or two will give splashes of bright colour. If you let them spread down the side of a stream or in a damp gully you will enjoy bold, bright springs for years to come.

Winter iris

Winter iris bring a touch of blue

The early spring bulb meadow is an area of the garden that I keep coming back to. Early flowering bulbs tend to be low to the ground as they are hardy enough to cope with lingering, rough weather. When I crouch down to look at the early iris and crocus bulbs in February and March they are a blast of colour and fascinating detail. Stand up and look down on them and they can look a bit humble before they really get going.
I haven’t got time to spend all day crouching, so the solution is to look at where they have come from, and plant them in a similar way.

Iris histrioides  ‘Angel’s Tears’

Iris histrioides ‘Angel’s Tears’

Iris histrioides – the winter iris

Take Iris histrioides, commonly known as ‘winter iris’. It’s typically a vivid blue iris in various shades. In Turkey, where they grow in the wild, they burst through the ground on naked stems and turn mountainsides blue. Inspired by this I’m planting more and more bulbs for early spring, so that in years to come we will have our own carpet of colour.
Some of the iris varieties here are unusual, so bulbs are expensive or impossible to find in bulk. That’s why I’m letting mine bulk up their numbers naturally, whilst under-planting with the easy-to-find Crocus tommasinianus. The light mauve of the crocus and deeper blue of the iris work perfectly together. I’m looking forward to the days when they have naturalised so abundantly that we need to thin them out.

I can’t recommend winter irises strongly enough. Look out for the readily available Iris reticulata in the garden centres or online. There will be a number of varieties to choose from. Plant them in the autumn a couple of inches deep and look forward to the day in February when they push up and turn out blue.

You don’t need a bulb meadow or mountainside to enjoy the power of these irises. They are perfect for well-planned pots partnered with violas or winter pansies. They also make an impact in small areas where their colour will pack a punch. Just make sure the drainage is good. They are pretty tough, even pushing their way through snow and ice. Get your camera ready for that; it makes a change from snowdrops!

Nick Haworth, Head Gardener

January – delightful Daphnes

Daphne scents – a Christmas present


One of the joys of being a gardener is sharing experiences in the garden. However, the garden is closed through the winter, so special moments can pass by unnoticed.
Right now if I could share one thing with you it would be the scent of a Daphne growing near the path by the arboretum. It’s a non-descript shrub for most of the year, an evergreen column, head-height, with narrow, glossy leaves. Thousands of people walk past it, eyes drawn to more dramatic views. However, this Christmas, a present all for me was the scent of the Daphne, drifting in a mild breeze.  Dartmoor is nowhere near as high as the Himalayas, where Daphnes, also called ‘Nepalese Paper Plant’ herald from. Imagine the knock-out scent of a host of these plants on a high mountain breeze!
You don’t need much space to grow one. Daphnes vary from small bushes at almost ground level, to 2m shrubs. There are a number of varieties. The one I am describing is Daphne ‘bholua’. I think they are relatively expensive to other shrubs, but I forgive them as winter perfume is worth a few extra pounds.
If you can, invest in a taller plant to enjoy scent at nose-height. You’ll need a sheltered spot, but don’t get hung up on that – just avoid wild and windswept! They tolerate most soils; moist and well drained is best, sandy and exposed would be worst. Part shade suits them better than drying out in full sun.
They are easy to look after, very hardy and slow to grow. Bear that in mind as its worth buying the biggest plant you can. Spring planting is best, so your Daphne can get established for a winter display.
I wouldn’t be without one in any garden that has winter interest. And frankly, this Christmas, it was the best present I had!

Nick Haworth, Head Gardener

Snowdrop & Early Spring Weekends

Calling all snowdrop enthusiasts and garden visitors… It’s time to step outside and enjoy the signs of early spring. We’ll be opening for two weekends in February, to share the garden at this special time of year.

Our unusual snowdrop varieties beguile Galanthophiles and the early spring bulbs, scents and colours are a sight to lift the hearts of all gardeners. We are lucky to have a snowdrop advisor, Pat Eaton, who will be on hand for some of the time to help visitors make the most of their visit.

Adult admission is just £5.50 (Gift aided) or £5 standard. Children and Friends of The Garden House enjoy free entry.

Please make your own arrangements for refreshments as the tea rooms are closed until we open fully in April.



Winter walk and Q&A

Walk in the garden, question the experts and enjoy the season…

Enjoy the many winter sights of the garden, for a £3 donation. Friends of The Garden can enjoy the event for free and will have a behind the scenes walk and talk with the head gardener.

Everyone is welcome back at the house at 3pm for a fun question and answer session, where wine and mince pies will be available to buy. No need to book, just turn up on the day. We look forward to seeing you!

The garden is a special place all year round, but after the gates close to the public in late October, few people have access to enjoy it. Whether you are a keen gardener or just fancy getting out and about and making the most of the daylight this will be time well spent on a winter afternoon.

Walking 15 miles for The World Cancer Research Fund

A long walk with a purpose

On Tuesday, November 1st a team from The Garden House will be walking 15 miles along the Drakes Trail to support The World Cancer Research Fund.

We have close links with the WCRF and we were thrilled earlier this year when they chose The Garden House as the venue for their springtime photo-shoot for a national campaign to promote healthy eating.

Inspired by them we created our own healthy eating menu, which has been really popular all season. As we head into winter and the garden closes we wanted to do something special to mark the end of a great season.  So a hardy team of staff and volunteers will be putting on their walking shoes and striding out for the WCRF. We will enjoy the walk and the opportunity to spend time together out of the garden, we’ll also enjoy the pub at the end of a long day… most of all though, we want to raise plenty of money!

If you’d like to donate and help us raise money please head over to our page…/the-garden-house-15-mile-walk-for-wor…or pop some money in our tin in the tea rooms next time you are in the garden. Thank you.

October half-term fun with leafy land-art

A free activity for children of all ages

Using our materials, create beautiful temporary art in the garden that all visitors can enjoy until the wind blows it away! If the weather is bad, this workshop will take place indoors, where we’ll use autumn materials to create artwork to take home.

It’s fun, free and a chance to create your own masterpiece

This activity is for children and adults. Volunteers will be on hand to provide materials and inspiration, but each artwork will be unique and you’ll be encouraged to create your own piece, rather than given something to copy…

There’s no extra charge for this activity, and you don’t need to book. It’s free with the usual garden entry fee. There are no set times, just drop in and spend as little or as much time as you like with your artwork.

October plant of the month – Abutilon

How to grow Abutilon


Tropical-looking Abutilon flowers in October

Our mild climate makes it possible to grow semi-hardy plants outside and be rewarded with some pretty exotic looking plants late in the season. In October there are plants either popping up as autumn bulbs or surprising us with long flowering displays. Abutilon are long-flowering Brazilian medal-winners in an autumn planting scheme. They belong to the genus of mallow plants, (Malvaceae) with an exotic look and bright colours, often golds, pinks and reds.

Abutilon ‘Victory’

Abutilon ‘Victory’ is a trailing variety, reaching up to 2m high. It’s happy outside as long it’s protected from frosts below 5 degrees. I haven’t lost one yet and as I garden on the edge of Dartmoor don’t worry about it being tender.

It’s semi-evergreen, losing leaves as new ones push through. Let it stand free as a trailing shrub, or tie it like a short climber. A wall can provide shelter from frost and support, but it might starve the roots from moisture and that’s no good for this tropical, greedy-feeder. Make sure you keep it well watered and fed.

As the days shorten you want to keep the flowering going for as long as possible, so think about the passage of the sun through your garden and position it for as many hours of sunshine as you can.

Prune if you must in late spring, when you can also take softwood cuttings for back-up plants in case we get a really hard winter that catches us all out.

I enjoy the colour this plant brings to the garden. I dot them where the colours can be seen at head height to appreciate the contrast between the gold and red flowers. They work well on the terraces so visitors experience them at different heights. I think there’s a lot to be said for looking at the detail of October plants. The big sweeping drifts of summer colour may be gone but there is still plenty to enjoy in the garden.

Nick Haworth, Head Gardener