A grey afternoon brightened by Knightshayes Court

As part of the decision to go to Devon for the Hardy Plant Society AGM and Annual Lecture Day, I decided I needed to fit a garden or two into the trip.  Sadly the weather was not kind during this weekend, so I adjusted my plans and decided to just go to Knightshayes Court which was very close to where I was staying.  The property is owned by the National Trust. the house is Victorian and designed by William Burges for the family of John Heathcoat-Amory.  The family made their fortune from lace production.  The house, like many was requisitioned during the Second World War and used by the American Air Force.  The National Trust bought the house and gardens in 1973.
On arrival whilst wandering down towards the main gardens the first thing that caught my eye was the walled kitchen garden.  Look at that lovely round tower at the corner.  I think there are not enough round towers at the corners of walled gardens and this garden proves my point, roundly.
Even though it is still very early in the season, the gardens looked immaculate.
There is much promise of things to come.
I loved this row of rhubarb forcers - with arrows on them telling you which way to go next.
I peered into the very tidy tool shed.
Nodded at the fernery room that is work in progress.  Apparently it used to have a glass roof and this is going to be reinstalled at some point in the future.
and paused briefly at the pot room which is full of mainly plastic pots.  We are currently in a period of time when the over-use of plastic is causing serious concern and for a moment I thought 'crikey, plastic'.  Then I thought that if you went into my greenhouse you would see similar (not so tidy) stacks of pots.  I re-use my pots again and again and again.  I cannot remember when I last bought any plant pots.  So just because they have them, does not mean that they use them unwisely.
I moved on, nodding hello to the straw sculptures that were staring at me.
The house itself is a fine gothic mansion.  It sits on top of a bank looking out across the Devon countryside.
There is a fine walk in front of the house, that leads you to look forward and to look down,
There is the promise of what the gardens will look like in only a few weeks time.
The formal borders are framed by these skilfully shaped hedges.
The paths force you decide which way you want to go first - I wanted to go both ways.
I found these aged standard wisterias.  I have a standard wisteria in my garden that I purchased when on an earlier visit to Devon a few years ago.  Mine has a very long way to go before it looks this grand.  There are moments when you meet inspirational plants, ones that you stand in front of and know you can only aspire to grow something so beautiful.  This was one of those moments.

If you peer through the arch you can see another woven sculpture, there were many around the garden.
All are extremely well placed,
and hugely skilful.

When not admiring the sculptures
I was loving the topiary, which is some of the best I have ever seen.  It is witty,
and clipped to perfection.  On a grey rainy day like this, it was just a joy.
Just imagine how wonderful this must look on a sunny day?
There are some woodland walks around the house.
These patches of hellebores and other spring plants lightened up the dark day,
and these frosted camellias were doing their best to still look good.
Yet what stopped me in my tracks were the swathes of daffodils.  They are just a joy to see, nodding away happily.  For many years I had no idea that there could be these naturalised drifts of daffodils, I had only seen them in domestic garden settings where you get two or three clumped together.  There is something about a haze of daffodils that makes the heart sing.
There is much more to see at Knightshayes, the weather finally got the better of me and I decided it was time to go.  I really want to return later in the season so I shall have to make this happen.

Related posts:  A special day at the Hardy Plant Society Annual Lecture Day and AGM


  1. Shame about the weather, but you are so right to say don't ditch the plastics, they last so long and replacing them costs us the earth. l'd love a return to the times when milk came in glass and veg was loose. Stopping the miscellaneous use of plastic is urgent! Hope the return visit is more clement. Does look good!


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