From small formal gardens, the architectural structure and arts and crafts style of Jekyll and Lutyens, to a Victorian terrace and shrubbery, to my favourite, the landscaped Georgian gardens which take up a small valley, there is something for everyone at Hestercombe.
I love a good stomp and the valley walk through woods, up hill and down dale is fabulous and so many of the follies are a delight to stumble across: the Mausoleum, all Gothic Hobbity; the Witch House's coppice-woven-comfort; the Temple Arbour, Tuscan Doric style, which is positioned to turn your back on and stare breathless at the stunning view. The cascade where nature's power crashes through the woods and knocks the stuffing out of me.
And if all that isn't enough, there is a watermill and a gallery to leave the indoory types happily indoors or sometimes I just have lunch in the restaurant - which is literally in the stables - and plan my next route around the grounds.
Hestercombe Gardens offers a magical day going through three centuries of garden design. There is a seventeenth century mill, now restored, plus an eighteenth century picturesque hillside garden with several follies, and a stream running into a large pool. There is a Victorian terrace from which, looking down, one catches one's breath at 'The Great Plat', looking like a Moorish cushion. This is part of the design : the best of Hestercombe: made in the early twentieth century by Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens. It is their garden masterpiece with its many levels, rills, water spouts, pergola and glorious planting. Hestercombe has a gallery, a super shop with plants as well, plus cafe. There are events throughout the year for both the family and garden history scholars. Most of the garden is accessible for wheeled users; a lift takes you to the ticket office and onto the path past the hillside, stream and pool – but you have to retrace your wheels to get into the Jekyll garden.
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