A Gardeners view

Postcard from the Lympstone Manor garden and parkland

Spring is quite simply the most beautiful time of the year at Lympstone Manor. The cherry, apple, and plum trees are in full blossom, while new leaves have unfolded from the huge variety of trees that we have here: English oak, monetary pine, poplar, walnut, chestnut, mixed broadleaves, holm oak, and conifers. I have never heard the birds sing so loudly and insistently – perhaps at this time there is less to disturb them than usual? Resident bees buzz around their well-kept hives, helping to pollinate wild flowers down near the foreshore. Other creatures that keep them company include squirrels, rabbits, pheasants, hedgehogs. Now that our ponds have been rejuvenated and are starting to mature, we have plenty of aquatic wildlife coming back including tadpoles, water snails, pond skaters, water boatmen, and a pair of ducks who have made the Lympstone Manor ponds their home.

When Michael first set eyes on what would become Lympstone Manor, the grounds, like the manor house, were rundown and neglected. He envisioned restoring them to their former glory, with gardens and parkland in harmony with beautiful art, a place of peace and tranquility that would be fitting for a five-star country house hotel. The varied landscape is now home to over 50 works of sculpture set within the historic ‘Ladies Walk’, each piece hand-crafted by individual and well-known artists from across the UK.

This past week has been a welcome sign of better and happier days to come and we could almost have mistaken Spring for Summer, but alas the rows of lavender and lupins have not fully burst their heads yet.

At this time of year, there is so much to be done for our gardening team who have the mammoth task of managing the 11-acre vineyard as well as the remaining 17 acres of grounds and parkland.

One of the most important jobs in April is to rejuvenate the lawns. What is a Manor without manicured lawns, precisely cut into attractive alternating stripes? The work begins with scarifying and removing the old thatch. This can be done in the Spring or the Autumn, but by waiting until April it allows for a speedier recovery rate. The next task involves aeration by hollow thinning which is especially important at the Manor as the ground is a heavy clay soil. It is good practice to mow the lawn afterwards to remove any tufts and level off the grass. This may also lift off any loose moss or thatch while any bare patches are over seeded followed by applying a Spring/Summer feed. It takes on average around three days to cut all the lawns across the estate, and all the grass cuttings and green waste are added to the compost pile, which in turn is used on the flower beds and borders.

The wild meadow is an important feature at the Manor, a vital roaming ground to the resident bees and cut only twice a year, once in late March/early April and then again in late September. This year, to ensure the meadow thrives, a mix of 24 nectar-rich wildflower seeds have been added. Meadows of wild flowers are a crucial habitat for insects from bees and beetles to grasshoppers, butterflies and ladybirds which in turn support small animals and birds, a vital piece in the jig-saw ecosystem of our grounds.

In amongst the woodland carpet we have now said goodbye to the snowdrops, daffodils and primroses but welcome the sight of the colourful tulips and bluebells which are in full flower as with many of the plants and shrubs that are coming to life so bringing an array of colour and floral scents to our grounds. As bird nesting season is upon us and now is the busiest time for them, we avoid doing any tree/hedge maintenance until later in the year.

Lympstone Manor encompasses the most beautiful position and it is our responsibility and pleasure to keep it in as perfect condition as possible. The magnificent grounds and parkland are best be enjoyed by taking a stroll along the historic ‘Ladies’ Walk’.

We can’t wait to welcome you back so that you can enjoy it too!

Ricky George – Estate Manager