THE open day at Milton Lodge Gardens in Wells proved to be a terrific success with more than 75 people attending and all the money raised going to charity via the National Gardens Scheme (NGS).
There are 3,700 gardens in England and Wales which are members of the National Gardens Scheme and each year £2.5 million is raised for nursing, care and gardening charities.
Milton Lodge is an 18th century house which faces south, looking out over a spectacular view of Wells Cathedral and the Vale of Avalon. The gardens were conceived in 1900 by Charles Tudway, the current owner’s great grandfather. Charles Tudway ran a plant nursery in Wells and was a partner of the London-based garden design firm Parsons and Partridge.
The approach to the gardens is up a long drive, at the end of which is a wooded path, which at this time of year is pungent with the smell of ramsons (wild garlic) crowding the edge of the woodland. Ahead is a giant of a cedar which is believed to be 250 years old.
The yew-hedged and walled terraces are navigated via old stone paths and steps where plants, such as lady’s mantle, moon daisy, anthemis, campanula and the beautiful blue brunneria have seeded themselves in the cracks. It is this semi-wild characteristic to the gardens which is particularly charming, and one which has been carefully managed to maintain the atmosphere of a cottage garden. Climbing plants, such as clematis, jasmine, crimson roses and blue ceanothus adorn the walls, while lupins, geraniums and old fashioned roses fill the borders. Two stone herons guard a pond where floating lily pads provide shade for five goldfish, and a central fountain trickles melodically into the water. On the terrace below stands an Edwardian summerhouse with its original Cotswold stone roof shingles, now beautifully weather-worn.
“The planting is beautiful and the setting is breathtaking,” said Jill and John Oakhill, who were visiting from Bristol and had just finished their tea and cake, served at the old stables.
Simon Tudway-Quilter, the owner, said: “The garden here at Milton Lodge is now just over 100 years old. Each generation of the family has added to the planting and we much enjoy sharing it with others and opening for charity days throughout the summer months.”
“They’re a great family to work for and it’s a great garden to be part of,” said David Milne, the head gardener.
He added: “The foundations are the same as when it was first laid out but it’s constantly changing.”
From Easter to October, the Coombe, an eight acre arboretum and woodland garden, is open to the public free of charge.
For further information, see the website www.miltonlodgegardens.co.uk.