Hestercombe Gardens are the most beautiful estate gardens in the south. With over 300 years of garden design all in one place, those who enjoy flora and fauna it certainly is a great choice for a day out in Somerset.
Situated just outside of Taunton, Somerset, these gardens are an inspiring day out for all the family. Take a stroll along the lakeside paths within the Georgian Landscape Garden, explore the Edwardian Formal Garden created by famous landscape architects Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens, and admire the sweeping landscape from the Victorian Terrace. This is an establishment that truly takes you through the ages of garden design. The lakes, woodland walks, cascades, and temples will have you in awe, and will certainly inspire you to rethink your own garden (albeit on a somewhat smaller scale). You can’t help but be overcome by ideas for your own little green spaces when walking around these majestic grounds.
Hestercombe is truly unique in the landscape gardening world due to the fact its inception spans three centuries. You have the Coplestone Warre Bampfulde’s Georgian offering in the form of the landscape garden, then the beautiful Victorian Terrace which is encased with shrubbery and last but not least the Edwardian garden. The staff at Hestercombe work tirelessly to restore these ancient gardens so that they reflect their respective time periods as accurately as possible. There is also a picnic area for you to enjoy, and the 17th Century watermill complex is something not to be missed, as it wonderfully showcases the historic uses of renewable energy - something I didn’t know existed until my visit here!
My favourite part was setting off along the gravel walkway from Rook Wood, where we enjoyed the view from the famous Daisy Steps. It felt like we were stepping back in time, all we were missing were our big dresses and sun umbrellas! The Octagon Summerhouse in the landscape garden is also not to be missed, as it perfectly frames the views of the valley on both sides. If you like to read or write, there is no better place to pause and reflect than alongside one of the two ponds. The scent of the Orangery is something you must experience. The rose garden reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, but the whole place really does have that magical feeling which will stay with you.
For those who enjoy architecture, head over to Hestercombe House and Gallery where you can enjoy exhibitions and history. Here you will also find The Stables Cafe where you can enjoy one of the best Sunday Roasts around, or the Column Room Restaurant which is perfect for afternoon tea (the most impressive I have sampled) or a delicious three course lunch. The best part of the house for me was the second-hand bookshop, I literally got lost in there for hours and came away with more than I could carry! Pretty standard when it comes to me and bookshops.
You also have the opportunity to take a little of the magic with you. The Gardens shop and plant centre is a treasure trove for the botanically inclined, with all the gardening essentials as well as gifts, flowers, and a range of beautiful plants used in the gardens themselves. There are also various homewares for sale, so if like me your favourite type of shopping is home shopping, you will not be disappointed.
The house and gardens are open all year round (aside from Christmas Day) and the team there are very welcoming. Unlike many houses and gardens, your dog is also welcome to accompany you on a day out here.