Category Archives: Latest News

The cottage garden’s gardener

Visitors who linger in the cottage garden may have come across a gardener,hard at work, often hidden behind a large hat. Hazel Ward has been taking care of the cottage garden since the very first day that weeds were cleared from the site.

Flowers fill the shot and a lady stands in the background

Hazel Ward at work in the cottage garden.

Here is Hazel’s description of how the cottage garden grows…

“The plan was for a naturalistic planting of both wild and cultivated flowers around the walls, which would then blend seamlessly into the wild flower meadow behind it. Self-seeding was always encouraged but this has always meant a lot of weeding out of the more vigorous wild flowers such as Campion and Ox eye daisies.

As the perennials have established there has became less open space for annuals such as field poppies to thrive I have got round this by sowing them in pots and then clearing spaces for them and then transplanting them in the spring. Over the years I have added other native annuals such as corn marigold, cornflower and corn cockle to the mix.

I have always loved the naturalistic style of planting and have been happy to leave wild flowers amongst cultivated plants especially as they attract such a lot of butterflies and insects.”

It’s a pleasure to be working and the view is magnificent

“If members of the public don’t like the cottage garden they never tell me but plenty of visitors do tell me that it is their favourite part of the garden and they like it because it looks so natural and unmanicured , often that they are trying to create a more natural area and a wildflower meadow in their own garden at home. In the summer it is a pleasure to be working in the cottage with the bonus when you look up the view is magnificent. I have become very attached to it as a garden over the years which is why I still come back a day a week to work in it although I now live the other side of Launceston.”

This year, as in every other, the cottage garden is an orchestrated riot of colour and variety. It’s down to Hazel’s eye for detail, her skill and the passion she still has for this single spot of land.


Budding young horticulturists visit

Young Horticulturist of the Year 2016

It was a pleasure to welcome the 2016 Young Horticulturist of the Year, Lawrence Wright, for a garden tour with our head gardener, Nick Haworth. Lawrence beat over 2,000 entrants to win the award, which comes with a prize of the Percy Thrower bursary, which is £2,500 for a career-enhancing gardening road-trip.

He visited the garden along with fellow RHS students Brendan Arundel and Tom King. The three of them enjoyed a sunlit garden tour, through all ten acres, including a behind the scenes opportunity to chat with all the gardeners.

Garden House Magic is working this summer

The garden made a great impression on the students, who dropped in as part of a Devon garden tour. In horticultural circles the Garden House is famed for it’s evolving naturalistic style and this summer it is looking incredible. The new planting is magnificent and many visitors are telling us they have never seen it looking so good. Perhaps Lawrence, Brendan and Tom will take ideas back and in future years we’ll see more gardens that have a touch of Garden House magic.

Young Horticulturist of hte Year 2016 Lawrence Wright stands in a wild flower meadow

L-R Nick Haworth, Tom King, Brendan Arundel, Lawrence Wright, pictured in the cottage garden.

If you would like to learn more about the award, please visit The Chartered Institute of Horticulture.

A special menu for the Queen’s birthday

A tea room treat  -anyone for Pimms and royal chocolate cake?

This Sunday, visitors to our acclaimed tea rooms are in for a treat as Liz Ingram and her team have added scrumptious new dishes to the menu to tempt tastebuds and celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Raise a long glass of Pimms before tucking into celebration chicken, or a generous slice of blue Stilton, pear and walnut tart. Leave enough room for nests of strawberry meringue and copious serving of clotted cream.

If it’s just tea you are after, treat yourself to a slice of the official royal-recipe chocolate cake, bedecked with blueberries and raspberries.

Let our tea rooms help you make it a day to remember!

  • Long glass of Pimms £3.00
  • Celebration chicken with a variety of salad and homemade coleslaw £7.95
  • Blue Stilton, pear and walnut tart with a variety of salad and homemade coleslaw £7.95
  • Strawberry meringue nests with clotted cream £4.95

Queen's Birthday Chocolate Cake at The Garden House



Tea rooms host the first Big Fruitea Party

Have you heard of The Big Fruitea Party?

It’s a campaign launched nationally by the World Cancer Research Fund UK to promote healthy eating and shine a light on the link between ill health and bad eating habits. The Big Fruitea campaign aims to get people hosting a special tea party whilst raising all important funds for cancer research.

Fruitea WCRF May 2016

Our tea rooms are well known for having the best range of indulgent cakes for miles around. When Liz Ingram, our tea room manager, was approached by the WCRF back in April to provide a very special, healthy tea to use in a photo shoot for their new campaign, she had to put her thinking cap on. The WCRF supplied some recipe ideas and Liz came up with plenty of her own. The result was a delicious, yet healthy tea that was enjoyed by everyone who took part in the shoot.

You will see pictures from the day in the national press as the campaign rolls out this summer. In the meantime, Liz is creating a new menu section, to offer people healthier choices. It will include sandwiches, fruit treats, peach tea and cucumber cooler. Of course, the indulgent range of cakes that our visitors love will still be available, albeit from the naughty side of the menu!

Find out more about the Big Fruitea Campaign, including how to host your own event.

June advice from the Head Gardener

How to grow Eryngium

It’s fitting that as I write this Chelsea Flower Show is in full swing. Every year it seems a trendy plant is “discovered” at Chelsea, and Eryngium was just that about a decade ago. In spite of looking exotic it’s a native plant that has been with us for centuries. You may know it as “sea holly.”

The Eryngium has earned its place where form and colour are important, and does well if it gets full sun in excellent drainage. Bees love it. As an umbellifer it has a long tap root so it doesn’t enjoy being moved. There are many varieties with different heights and flower forms, but it’s fair to say they are generally blue, spikey and love the sun.
Although it’s got no scent to write home about bees love it so the blue we like must look good in ultra-violet too.

The plants in the photo are a hybrid that is very blue and about 50cm high. The blue colour gets brighter the more sun the plant has. This isn’t a plant for a shady corner so we have ours in a well-drained, walled garden. We use the colour to as a foil to lead the eye into a long border with sumptuous dark wine colours, bright blues and hot reds. You can see the tower in the background so if you are familiar with the Garden House you’ll know where the borders are!

This plant is a hard worker and if you can keep it warm and well-drained it will even seed around. Let the seed grow where it lands (it’ll be the following spring) and then move the young plants before they get too established.

In spite of the cold start to the season the garden is leaping on now and it’s a pleasure to work in it every day. Next month I might put pen to paper to give advice about wildflower meadows as I think it is going to be an extraordinary year for them.

Head Gardeners’ Walk and Talk for Friends

Friends of The Garden House are invited to enjoy the garden in the company of our head gardener, Nick Haworth. These special, informative events provide a behind-the-scenes look into what it takes to keep such a wonderful garden looking good throughout the year.

Learn how the winter-work changes the garden throughout the year

A June walk in the garden is a treat. You’ll spot the changes and recognise the impact of the winter work that Nick and his team carried out. Come rain and shine – but more often rain, they were out landscaping the area around the dovecote, crown-lifting many of the trees to re-establish lost views, as well as laying new pathways so that visitors less able to manage steps and slopes can enjoy more of the garden.

Man in grey jumper admiring a Magnolia Felix 'Jury'

Nick Haworth, Head Gardener

The fist changes each season after any winter work are always interesting. As we move through a very wet, cold spring into late spring and early summer we can see for the first time the way the trees are coming into leaf without restricting the views.

The area to the dell of turkey oaks is one of the original viewing points and has come into its own recently. It’s become a peaceful, secluded place, just a few steps up from a main path but offering a new way to reflect in a very green, restful area of the garden. The long view out towards the church at Buckland Monachorum is truly lovely.

The next talk for Friends is on June 2nd at 2pm. Meet at the Jubliee Arboretum entrance. Tea and cake afterwards.

If you aren’t a Friend why not become one? Friends membership costs just £28 per year and entitles you to visit the garden as often as you like. You will also be invited to special events. It’s a great value way to support the work of the charity that maintains and develops The Garden House.

Free introductory garden tours for all visitors are held each Friday.

A great night had by all…

Thank you to everyone who supported us by attending the fascinating “Behind the doors of No.10” talk on June 12th, given by Neill Mitchell. As a former Private Secretary to Mrs Thatcher, Neill was able to share insights about No.10 and also what it was like to work with the “Iron Lady.”  It was fascinating to hear just how hard she worked and what members of the cabinet sometimes had to say about her. And who could have guessed that on a visit to India she would  stay back and look after the office to let her team visit the Taj Mahal…

The event was a sell-out and helped us raise a good amount that will off-set the slow, cold-weather start we had to the season.

Come and see us at the Tavistock Garden Festival

We’re bringing our garden to the Tavistock Garden Festival at the end of May. The festival is the perfect time of year for gardeners to browse through the plant stalls in the Pannier Market and invest in one or two (or more!) new plans for the season.

We’ll be showcasing a variety of the unusual and special varieties of plants that make our garden unique. You’ll be able to get planting advice and helpful hints from us too. The plants on display at the Festival will be a taster of what is thriving in our 10 acre garden, just ten minutes away from Tavistock at Buckland Monachorum.

If you can’t visit the Festival, you can always call in at our plant centre. It’s free to enter and is open every day.


Advice for May from the head gardener

How to grow Pulsatilla vulgaris

This bright little rock plant is one to reach out and touch. The leaves and seedheads are so silky smooth and feathery you can barely feel them. Better yet, when the light catches them from behind they almost have a halo glow.  The flowers can be upright or nod around on the end of the very slender stems. They are plants for gravel gardens and very well drained soil. They’re no more than 30cm high – usually about 20cm, so we’ve hundreds of them planted on hummocks and slopes in our quarry garden so we don’t have to bend too far down to appreciate them close-up.  A slope helps with drainage too and lets you see them backlit when the sun is out.

Close up of a single pinky mauve flower with a yellow centre.

Pulsatilla vulgaris is perfect for gravel gardens

Perfect flowers for a well drained site  – see them in our quarry garden

They’ve a reputation for being in flower at Easter and a common name of Pasque (passion) flower to go with this Easter link. Mind you, with the cold start and the early Easter this year ours were nowhere to be seen and they’re a bit later this year than normal. They’ll flower for a good 4 – 6 weeks though so they earn their place. The colour range runs from a very deep red wine through violet, lilac and pinker shades to a white.  I don’t think any are garish colours, there’s something soft and sophisticated about them.

They are best grown from winter root cuttings, or by potting on self-sown seedlings. Bear in mind they take a while to establish a long tap root and mature plants hate to be disturbed. Put them where you want them rather than mess them about.  Once established they will give you years of enjoyment.”

Man in grey jumper admiring a Magnolia Felix 'Jury'

Nick Haworth, Head Gardener