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Our conservation work at Montacute House

Pavilion in the East Court Garden, Montacute House, Somerset
The Trust carries out extensive work to ensure that Montacute House and its garden stay in good shape | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

The National Trust team at Montacute House work hard to ensure that this late-Elizabethan mansion and its garden are maintained all year round. Here, we highlight some of the important jobs that we’ve undertaken in recent times.

Reshaping Montacute’s yew trees

The garden at Montacute House is known for its yew trees, and keeping them in tip-top condition can sometimes require radical treatment.

The 30 yews along the West Drive were pruned back hard in 2020, restoring them to their original form. These sentinel yews were planted in the 19th century as part of a tiered arrangement of three ‘avenues’. But over time, the growth of the trees behind the yews had pushed them out of shape.

The job involved unwinding the wires that bind the branches together, and then cutting the branches back. The result looked a bit scary at first, but had to be done to stop the Irish yews splitting and breaking.

Before working on the yews along the West Drive, the garden team tackled the yews on Cedar Lawn in 2019, reducing the height and width significantly. You'll see that green shoots are now sprouting on the bare branches.

The North Garden at Montacute House, Somerset
We intend to re-image the North Garden's parterre using the original 1860s plans | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Restoration of the North Garden

This part of the garden was built at the same time as the house and was designed to be seen from above. After 1845, William and Ellen Phelips moved into Montacute House, and the garden was remodelled within its original structure.

The lines mown into the grass outline the original 17th-century parterre. The design has been taken from original historical plans – the short grass represents paths and the longer grass where the flower beds would've been.

Our ambition is to use the plans and photographs from 1860, when the garden was remodelled, to re-image and replant the parterre.

Replanting the roses

The rose border is part of the restoration; It was planted in the 1970s and many of the roses were starting to fail. The plants have been removed and the border left fallow so that the weeds can be treated and the soil re-conditioned.

The border will be replanted in a style more in keeping with the parterre restoration and the wider garden. We will still plant roses for summer colour, but will also introduce smaller shrubs to add interest for the remaining months.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

View of the east side of Montacute House from Cedar Lawn with sunshine hitting the house

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