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Things to do in the garden at Montacute House

Family looking at the fountain at Montacute House
Family looking at the fountain at Montacute House | © Annapurna Mellor

Montacute House is one of the few Elizabethan houses in England to still have its compartmentalised garden. From the impressive ‘wibbly wobbly’ hedges by the Cedar Lawn, to the tropical interior of the Orangery, each area offers something different for you to explore and enjoy, no matter what the season.

North Garden

Bounded by raised walks and hedges of yew, the North Garden includes rows of clipped Irish yews and a mown parterre.

Excellent views over the park can be enjoyed from the raised walk on the north side and a gap in the yew hedge at the north-west corner gives access to the steps that lead down to the ice house.

East Court in the garden

Originally the entrance to the house and surrounded on three sides by balustraded walls of glowing Ham stone, the East Court is adorned with lanterns and obelisks and on the west side, by the terrace of the house.

The old walls shelter mixed flower and shrub borders, following a planting scheme devised in the 1950s by Vita Sackville-West with the replanting supervised by Mrs Phyllis Reiss of nearby Tintinhull Garden.

A man pushes a woman in a wheelchair as they look at flowers in the garden at Montacute House, Somerset
A couple enjoy the East Court Garden at Montacute House in Somerset | © National Trust Images / James Dobson

Cedar Lawn

This extensive lawn is a great spot to enjoy a picnic, with a pair of tall cedars at its south end. According to the manorial survey map of circa 1782, this lawn was known as Pig’s Wheatle Orchard and was converted into a bowling green in the 19th century.

The servants' path

The wall on the west side supports fan-trained fig trees planted in around 1945. The servants’ path runs the length of this side and is screened from rest of the garden by a clipped, and rather wobbly, yew hedge.

The West Drive

The West Drive marks the approach to the house with a grand avenue of clipped Irish yews leading to the west gate, flanked by stone piers surmounted by the Phelips family crest. The crest consists of a basket of flames and bears the date 1787.

A recent major conservation job was the reshaping of the iconic yews to restore 19th-century sight lines.

Garden Orchard

The Garden Orchard on the South Drive is one of the less formal areas of the garden, making it ideal for running around and eating picnics.

Key features in Montacute's garden

Visitors looking inside the Orangery at Montacute House, Somerset, with a gravel terrace in front of the building, surrounded by trees and bushes with blue skies above.
The Orangery at Montacute House, Somerset | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

The Orangery

The Orangery, tucked into the corner of the terrace, was built by 1840, with decorative obelisks linking it to the Elizabethan origins of the garden. It's shown on an 1848 sketch as 'new Garden Green House'. With its lush ferns and palms in the central raised beds, the walls are clothed in climbers such as ipomea, jasmine and abutilon Kentish Belle. The perfect spot to sit with a book and relax as you listen to the trickling water of the fountain.

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

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