Plants and gardens to explore
The result of 100s of years of planning, building and restoration a walk around the gardens at Dunster Castle takes you around the world and through four different microclimates.
The South Terrace
With far reaching views across the Bristol Channel and Deer Park the present day layout of the South Terrace stems from the Victorian period. In the 1820s, at the behest of George Luttrell, the architect Salvin demolished the existing Thornhill Chapel which had been built on the south facade in 1721. A new wing was constructed in its place and the resulting South Terrace was formed.
To reflect its history, the flower beds are planted in the Victorian style with spring bulbs giving a spectacular floral display and in summer there is an abundance of brightly coloured bedding plants. The area has a Mediterranean feel due to its fortunate micro-climate which enables tender plants to thrive including the row of Chusan Palms.
This part of the garden also contains the Orangery, (now renamed the Camellia House) where you can pick up take away coffee and snacks, the Swan Pond which is home to goldfishes and newts and the Lemon House.
The River Garden
A native micro climate the River Garden is a wild, wooded area. Green throughout the year during spring it's full of colour as the magnolia trees bloom. During summer the giant rhubarb reaches its peak in growth, getting so big they make an unusual umbrella when caught in the rain. Home to some rare species including the Handkerchief tree was grown from seeds smuggled back from Australia by Alys Luttrell in her purse in the 1920’s.
Bridges cross the River Avil which runs through the garden and lead to walks on the wider estate. At the end of the garden is the working watermill and tea-room.
The Yew bank
There have been yews on this bank dating back to the eighteenth century when the original drive - The New Way - was commissioned in 1720 by Dorothy Luttrell. In those days, it was very fashionable to create areas of light and shade within a garden and yews were perfect in this respect for shade. However, over the years, the yews grew too large and they were coppiced in 2012 and are now kept within bounds.
This area was originally the Upper Ward of the Norman Fortress of Dunster and, therefore, is the highest point in the Dunster landscape. In 1721, at the request of Dorothy Luttrell, the area was levelled and turned into a Bowling Green. To offer shelter and a dining area for the participants and the ladies, the Octagon Tower was constructed this now houses an exhibition exploring the garden's history.