Montacute's autumn garden
Montacute House is amongst the very few Elizabethan houses in England to have retained its setting within a compartmented garden with each of the areas offering something special.
It’s a big job
The extensive hedges you see within the garden are English Yew and are thought to be about 150 years old. Autumn is when they get cut and it's a big job for the garden team. There is over a mile of hedges, so this vital conservation task will take two people at least ten days to complete using electric hedgecutters, platform scaffolding and a cherry picker to reach the tops.
Cutting starts at this time to ensure the plants have finished growing for the season and it also means that the fantastic wibbly wobbly shape is looking crisp for the winter months. Until 1947 the hedges were a similar height and depth but straight, without all the lumps and bumps you see today. During that harsh winter heavy snow remained so long that it caused the flat tops of the hedges to collapse under the weight.
The formal borders in the East Court will still be full of autumnal colour. Bulbs are being planted in preparation for next year and the lawns are getting some much needed attention. After a busy summer with lots of feet passing over, special equipment is used to improve them. The machines relieve compaction by lifting the turf and letting the air in.
One most appealing features of the Garden at Montacute House is the formal sunken North Garden which has the magnificent fountain in its center. It is a great spot for playing hide and seek in the inner yew hedges.
This extensive lawn with a pair of tall cedars at its south end was known as Pig’s Wheatie Orchard in 1782 and was converted into a bowling green in the nineteenth century. Today it is a highly popular destination for families to picnic under the magnificent cedar trees.
The Garden Orchard on the South Drive is one of the less formal areas of the garden, which makes it an ideal for running around and climbing trees.