Things to do in the garden at Montacute House
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.
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.
Four centuries ago, a garden was a place of theatre and display, where nature was tamed into intricate, formal patterns.
The layout of the North Garden is a rare survival of an Elizabethan garden. A stroll around the raised upper walkways would have been the perfect way to admire the fashionable parterre below.
Montacute’s garden team recreated that idea, using 19th-century designs that drew on Tudor concepts. Instead of low hedges and colourful planting, the shapes have been mown into the grass, leaving room for a wilder effect. These can be seen to best advantage from the windows of the Long Gallery.
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.
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.
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
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.
Walk the estate at Montacute House and discover nature, views and landmarks to enjoy throughout the season. Bring along your dog and enjoy wide-open spaces.
Explore the ground floor of the house at Montacute in Somerset, home of the rare Tournai Tapestry.
Montacute House is a two pawprint rated place. Enjoy seasonal walks with your dog throughout the year and find out how you can make the most of your visit.
Whether it’s a quick bite to eat or some retail therapy you’re looking for, Montacute House is sure to have something for you.
If you’re looking for things to do together this autumn, why not head over to Montacute House? There is plenty to keep the whole family happy.
From 18th-century water gardens and Arts and Crafts landscapes to intimate woodland gardens, there are so many places to discover.
Discover our gardeners’ top tips so you can make the most of your garden, plot or window box.