... Kilver Court
A couple of weekends ago, my SUP friend S and I visited Kilver Court: this was in the same trip as last week's ABC Wednesday Jaunt which led us past the lovely prairie-style planting in Radstock.
This garden's been on my must-see list for a couple of reasons: it was opened to the public last year after an extensive restoration and also because it features a rather prominent viaduct - a relic from when the Somerset & Dorset railway ran through the town of Shepton Mallet. This is a listed building and so is set to stay. I was intrigued how the garden's design would utilise this 'feature', especially as Chippenham has a similar - and equally historic - viaduct slap bang in the centre of town. I was looking for inspiration and ideas for a possible public planting transformation.
The gardens were initially developed by the local factory owner for his workers in the 1800s. In the 1960s, the Showerings family (of Babycham fame: it was brewed just over the road - might still be - and we were followed all afternoon by the delicious smell of cider making apples) took over ownership and asked George Whitelegg to recreate his Gold medal winning Chelsea Flower Show rockery garden. Now the founder of Mulberry - it used to be their headquarters - owns the garden and has restored it to that seen today. I don't know how much of the rockery garden in the first photograph reflects the original design, but I'm sure the principles of it are there.
The garden has a number of distinct areas: the rockery garden seen in the first photo and the above view shows the formal parterre by the entrance. This area is backed by one of the former factory buildings, now a dance studio. As it was a warm day when we visited, the presence of this was a distinct disadvantage as a class was in progress. At various intervals during the afternoon extremely loud music boomed out through the open doors over the tranquil scene, which reverberated off the viaduct. Hardly conducive to a pleasant visit and luckily for us only served in relatively short bursts in the latter half. It may have contributed to the relative lack of visitors whilst we were there and it's probably best to check what classes are on if you decide to visit.
Having enjoyed our visit on the whole - despite the dance class - S and I retired to the adjacent farm shop and cafe (part of the same complex, owned by the same people, but probably run as a separate business) for well-earned refreshments. A pot of tea, a mug of coffee and two slices of cake came to an eye-watering £9.30*. This made for a very grumpy end to our afternoon, especially as one of the slices of cake was nowhere near the same size as the generously proportioned one given to another customer. If you visit - which on the whole I do recommend - I suggest you visit nearby Dobbies Garden Centre afterwards for much more reasonable fayre, plus a gander at their bedding, chickens and porcelain loos.
For more posts bought to you by the letter K, do visit the ABC Wednesday blog.
Update 7/10: Kilver Court's marketing manager replied yesterday (see comments for a full transcript) - they'll have a word with the Dance Studio manager to see if the noise can be kept to a reasonable level and I've been offered a free re-visit :)