A bumper crowd came to see Head Gardener of Marwood Hill Gardens, Malcolm Pharoah at the first meeting of 2009. His talk about Marwood and its plants was enthusiastic and illustrated with slides taken over the last 50 years which showed how each part of the garden had been developed by Dr. Smart and his team.
Malcolm explained how Marwood, with the love from Dr Smart, has become one of Devon's beautiful gardens. Dr Smart fell in love with camellias and introduced them into a special greenhouse in the 1960's. This created bigger blooms, but now the greenhouses provide shelter for tender plants.
He told the history of the garden and explained with illustration how the garden is in a valley setting, only 4 miles from the sea, with a natural stream running through it. The old rose garden has been replaced by herbaceous borders which gives maximum colour. There are areas laid out for the three national collections which they hold. One collection is Astillbes, of which they have over 150 varieties which bloom from June to August. He explained how the plants love to be dug up and divided every 5 years to provide re-growth. These should be in full flower at the time of our planned visit in July.
The two lakes have been the major development at the garden over the last 50 years. A JCB dug out the area to form the lake and it has a natural liner of blue clay. A bog garden was created in 1980 and this is surrounded by Primula and Iris. The area on the hillside looking up to the church has been planted with trees with open vistas. This now gives glorious autumn colour. Hostas can be found with no holes in their leaves and Malcolm believes that this is down to wildlife in the garden and no stone walls. There is an original John Robinson statue on the island in the middle of one of the lakes and a beautiful Cherry tree which stands beside the pathways around the lake.
The current house was built around 1970 and overlooks the valley and lakes. It now houses a tearoom and right outside is a beautiful deep pink Magnolia named Marwood.
To mark the Millennium, Dr Smart's nephew, the current owner of the garden, had a statue of Dr Smart made and this now stands overlooking the lakes and bog garden.
A new waterfall was created about 4 years ago. There is a new area being developed for new summer grasses and a camellia walk. The garden is continually being developed through self finance.
The garden is open all year round and has something special to see in every season.It has 3½ employees and 20 volunteers. They have just held two successful Sunday Snowdrop & Hellebore weekends.
For more information about the garden visit their website - there is a link to it in our Recommended Websites section.