Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Thursday, 24 March 2016

All Change at Kilver Court

Kilver Court garden entrance

I was lured back to Kilver Court this week with the promise of brunch and flamingo-themed fun. This garden is often called 'Somerset's Secret Garden', so it's apt we start with this tempting entrance and a distant glimpse of an unusual object.

Storybook character sculptures at Kilver Court garden

An unexpected - and fun - surprise I found in the topiary garden were these storybook sculptures by Robert James Limited. They're on display from now until April 6th, prior to their transfer up north to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show.

So what about the flamingos, I hear you ask...

The flamingos are welcomed officially to the garden
From left to right we have:
Boatman, Monty Saul, Viscount Weymouth, Roger Saul, and Viscountess Weymouth

... well, here they are with the garden owners and invited dignitaries welcoming them officially to the garden. Guess which song was playing when I arrived.

As you can see, the flamingos were busy on their island getting used to their surroundings - apparently Kilver Court has had them before, around 50 years ago. There was the potential for things to go very wrong with this opening, so the boatman is to be commended for keeping everyone safe.

As well as the flamingos, garden owner Roger Saul had another pet project for us to view...

Gardens Illustrated tweet about the new plant nursery

... which Sorrel from Gardens Illustrated captured nicely in her tweet. There's also a Wiggly Shed stuffed with gardening tools and other goodies, including Franchi seeds. It was good to see Paolo there and looking well after his recent spell in hospital. He told me to look out for the 'pasta Nonnas' at this year's RHS Hampton Court Show.

View of the main part of Kilver Court garden

I also met Matt from the garden team, who told me about future plans for the garden. Storm Frank left quite a lot of damage in its wake last December, so the opportunity is being taken to rethink the planting.

Flamingo island where the giant weeping willow used to be
The huge willow tree has gone from Flamingo island and the replacement Dicksonia there may give a hint of things to come. Apparently Roger Saul is a fan of exotic planting, so the possibilities are being considered, bearing in mind a bitter wind can whip through those arches from the Mendips beyond.

It's likely that the rockery will be revamped, as will the huge 10 foot by 60 foot herbaceous border at the back of the arches. There may be a competition launched to redesign this space, so I'll say more if and when this happens.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the garden develops over the next year or two, and if any ideas can be applied to the area around Chippenham's own viaduct.

The nursery opens and the garden reopens to the public this Easter weekend (2016) - note there is FREE entry for visitors on Saturday. Full information re opening times and directions can be found here.


  1. I've had Kilver Court on the list for ages. Somehow I've got on their email list and I get to see what I'm missing quite frequently. Looks fun. Intent to visit is strengthened!

    1. Let me know if you do go there Helen - we could meet up! It was so nice to have a closer event to attend for a change :)

  2. We went last year and I did a post about it. It will be interesting to see the changes, wish I had seen the flamingoes!

    1. I think they're going to be a lot of fun Pauline - did you know the Kensington Roof Garden has them as well?

  3. Love the flamingos. A brave approach to the opening. Glad weather played ball. New plans sound very interesting.

    1. I'm especially looking forward to seeing what happens with the herbaceous border, Janet :)


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