Do bears.......?

or Devon Odyssey 2 - I went on a bear hunt.
Whilst driving down to the cottage I was staying in during my recent trip to Devon I took a detour to Killerton, a National Trust house and garden.  Years ago when going on such a journey I probably would not have made a detour on the way there, but the delights of owning a sat nav means that I know how long (ish) it will take me to get places and that I can leap off and see things and not worry that I will not find my way back to the road.  My sat nav was worth its weight in gold during my week away.  So I stopped off at Killerton as I fancied a walk around a garden to break up my journey.
Killerton is, I have to say, a pleasant garden.  It is lovely for a walk around on a warm late Spring day and I enjoyed it hugely, but it was lacking that certain something until I turned a corner and found this little thatched cottage.  It turns out it is the bear hut.  Originally it was built as just a feature in the early 1800s, but later on it was used to house Gilbert Acland's bear that was brought back from Canada in the 1860s.
The hut has amazing details,this is a beautiful floor.
The main room has a ceiling decorated with pine cones and apparently deer knuckles (I didn't know they had knuckles!)
The smaller side room has a furry roof.  This picture is not great, it was very dark, but it is a furry ceiling.
and quite a fine stained glass window in the furry room too.  All very fine, all very twee and all very much a prison for the poor bear.  Eventually, apparently, the bear got too big for this hut and was transferred to a zoo.  Probably better surroundings than the hut, but it was a creature from the wild so you have to feel sorry for the poor thing.  Also, try as I might, I cannot find out the name of the bear, surely it had a name? 
Behind the bear hut is a well terraced rock garden.  It has nice running water though it did contain a pond with a pump in it that sounded like a washing machine on rinse cycle, it did spoil the effect rather. 
At the top of the rock garden was the ice house.  Now I do like a good ice house.  A freezer just isn't the same!
The gardens contain lots of rhododendrons, some very pretty ones indeed.
These irises really caught my eye, such glorious colours.
The garden benefited hugely from some good old-fashioned plant hunting that the Acland family sponsored.  They also employed John Veitch to create the gardens.  There are some stunning trees as a result of both these things including this Magnolia Wilsonii that was luckily still in bloom and giving out its superb scent.
Wisteria was a common theme of my time away and this white one just growing loosely and rambling by the side of the house was one of the best I saw and again the scent was incredible.
The house does have a beautiful setting and it was a glorious warm day.  I am writing this whilst it is raining, it feels like it has been raining ever since I got back so I feel I can hardly remember this warm pleasant week.
Very close to the house is this Tulip Tree - and what a beauty it is, it has such a wonderful shape.
I can never quite decide if I like Tulip Trees or Gingkos best, it is a close call.  So as you would expect I have both in my garden so that I don't have to choose.

So Killerton was a nice detour, I enjoyed my wander around very much and also had a very nice ice-cream.  It left me with a worry that I cannot reconcile though, what was the name of the bear?  If anyone knows it would be a huge relief.  Bad enough to keep the poor thing in a hut so far from home, but to not even give it the dignity of a name, surely not?


  1. Don't know the name of the bear, but what a beautiful little cottage. Love the pine cone ceiling.


  2. Thanks - it is a great hut, Certainly a step up from my garden shed :)

  3. Love the floor and the ceiling detail - fabulous! and the white wisteria looks fabulous :-)


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