Driving to Devon: Kilver Court

Looking at other people’s gardens can be an inspiration for one’s own. True, it can often inspire comments along the lines of ‘I wish. . .’, but there are usually some ideas you can adapt and take home. With this is mind I went on a jaunt to Devon to see a friend, visiting gardens as I went. First stop was Kilver Court in Somerset, conveniently placed for elevenses if you use the M3 and A303. 

Kilver 7The buildings began life as a woollen mill in the early 1500s and since then it has been a ‘model factory’ with a boating lake and allotments for the workers, semi-derelict, home to ‘Babycham’ and the backdrop for many of Mulberry’s photo shoots when their headquarters was based there in the 1990s. It now houses various retail outlets (Toast and Mulberry amongst others), a farm shop, a nursery, a health centre and an excellent café.

Stepping into the garden, the first thing you notice is the extraordinary backdrop – a huge, (disused) Victorian railway viaduct.  It somehow manages to look stately and dramatic, but not too industrial.  You enter the garden beside a neatly clipped parterre and the path then crosses the millpond and continues round the water. Beneath the great stone arches there is a triangular lawn edged with deep borders, packed at this time of year with brilliantly coloured late-flowering perennials. The millpond stream tumbles down through a recreated Chelsea Flower Show rockery. It was constructed in the 1950s and now looks part of the garden. Conifers provide upright structure, heathers, hostas, hardy geraniums and sedums perch on the rocks and, in between, the Japanese maples were just beginning to show signs of spectacular autumn colour to come. Hidden up above the mill are the Kilver Community Allotment Gardens, which are neatly laid out with raised beds. Beyond was a stile, leading to an enticing-looking walk, but I had to get on. Jane

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