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My favourite garden by Isabel Bannerman

My favourite garden by Isabel Bannerman

We first went to Forde Abbey with our guru and garden mentor David Vicary in the mid 1980s. We lived in a ‘rescue home’, a dilapidated but glorious Baroque mansion, between a roundabout and a Brookside housing development, called The Ivy in Chippenham. Forde was on...
Sowing biennials for next year

Sowing biennials for next year

Late July and there’s rows of neatly sown pots in the glass house. Biennials for next year, an ideal job for the middle of the day, when the heat these past few weeks has been relentless. Buoyed by this year’s display, we’ll be growing even more for...
How To Prune Your Roses

How To Prune Your Roses

Nothing creates the vision of an English garden more than a wild rose, tumbling and billowing and generously spirited. Keen to encourage floriferous vigor, Forde Abbey head gardener, Joshua Sparkes bends the stems, gently coaxing them into shapes and patterns. It...
Tips For Planting Spring Bulbs

Tips For Planting Spring Bulbs

October and the mind is already racing. Beyond the clocks going back and the darker side of the year and head long into the first flush of Spring, when new beginnings will cast off the mantle of a Winter scape. A tapestry of bulbs to burst onto the scene after the...
Wild Flower Meadows

Wild Flower Meadows

The old proverb of ‘making hay’ kicks into gear come July, with tractors trundling up and down the fields and doing just that. It’s the time when some of the meadows at Forde Abbey are given their annual hair cut, but not all, as head gardener Joshua...
Planting Design Principals inspired by meadows

Planting Design Principals inspired by meadows

It’s time to say goodbye to the meadows and put them to bed until next year. Their texture and form has taken many stages through the season, and by July the tufted grasses are the colour of burnt sugar with a caramel brown tinge to them. There’s black grasses,...
The June Dip

The June Dip

There’s usually a gap in June, or so the theory goes, when the efforts of Spring have been and gone and Summer is yet to get going. But never has a ‘June dip’ been more frothy and abundant, a baton relay of hesperis and lunaria, alliums and foxgloves – each...
The Stone Path Project

The Stone Path Project

Towards the end of May, a snaking pathway up through the rhododendrons on The Mount is lined with the boldest and most luminous of blues. The turn of the meconopsis poppies, a slice of the Himalayan wilds recreated on a hillside in Somerset. They seem to thrive under...
Heart of Oak

Heart of Oak

British oaks from the Forde Abbey estate could contribute towards the rebuilding of Notre Dame cathedral, following a joint effort from members of Historic Houses, the association for independently owned historic houses and gardens. So far more than one hundred donor...
April Newsletter

April Newsletter

Welcome to April at Forde Abbey…. With less than a week of undiluted sunshine and the garden has burst into life. From creamy cups to pink-tinged goblets, a full spectrum of magnolias and a canopy of blossom is in bloom. The tapestry of Spring bulbs won’t...
A tapestry of Spring

A tapestry of Spring

It feels like a tipping point in the season. A surge of energy gathering momentum. Pink-cheeked magnolias keeping company with stellata, more spools of ribbon blowing in the breeze, but Joshua Sparkes has already got his feet firmly planted in the next season. Not so...
Seasonal botanical prints

Seasonal botanical prints

Nature never stands still. Not for a moment. A restless twitching of energy framed by the seasons and textured by the very best of British weather in all it various humours, both light and dark. It’s what makes the mornings endlessly nuanced, and chasing light such a...
Jobs in the Garden

Jobs in the Garden

First it was the snowdrops, softening the edges of February, then came the shoots and unfurlings. The wisps of pale mauve tommasinianus, before the full palette of purple crocus came bursting forth, with magnolia, hammamilis and the first flush of daffodils. An energy...
What makes a good compost

What makes a good compost

Here at Forde Abbey, we’re going to be making our first ever compost heap. In previous years, it was put in a pile and used on the farm as silage and the garden predominantly ran on masses of leaf mould. This year, we’re keen to get a compost system up and running...
How to grow for the future

How to grow for the future

Longer Summers and warmer weather might strike a chord with our nostalgic notion of childhood, but the reality for the garden is far from idyllic. Going by last years crop of vegetables in the kitchen garden, higher temperatures had less than productive yields and...
Perennial Tulips for a longer lasting display

Perennial Tulips for a longer lasting display

Velvety reds and purples under a canopy of acid green, and oranges, and whites intermingling with pinks. After the pared back minimalism of the Winter scape, a Spring catwalk of tulips and an exuberant flush of colour will be choreographed by Joshua Sparkes, our head...
Historic Houses