If like me you are drawn to colour, pattern and texture in all its forms, I hope you might enjoy this snapshot of some inspirational garden design ideas from a recent visit to the gardens at The Newt in Somerset. The garden had been on my radar for a while so I was excited to be able to take the opportunity to make a flying visit.
Previously known as Hadspen House – a Georgian house owned for 230 years by the Hobhouse family and home to garden designer and writer Penelope Hobhouse – this corner of Somerset already had some serious garden credentials in its favour. The Newt was renamed due to the amount of amphibians found in the garden.
When the Hobhouse family put the house up for sale, South African duo Karen Roos (ex Editor of Elle Decoration South Africa) and her husband Koos Bekker (Chairman of technology group Naspers) first set eyes on it when they saw it advertised in Country Life magazine.
Having experience of luxury hotel ownership in South Africa (Babylonstoren), they bought the house and garden and proceeded to turn it into a luxury hotel and spa along with visitor attraction by way of garden, restaurants, cider press, shops and garden museum.
The resulting modern English country house and garden opened its doors in August 2019. The garden was completely redesigned by French garden architect, Patrice Taravella, who was the same designer the couple used for Babylonstoren. The interiors of the hotel were designed by Karen Roos.
Newt Garden design
A centrepiece to the garden is an egg-shaped section with 460 apple trees (267 British varieties) espaliered in a baroque style across sweeping walls and fences. The bones of the garden are strong with local stone walls, undulating metal framed tunnel walkways, ponds, vegetable garden and garden rooms divided with hazel panelled walls complete with sweet oval look-through windows. There were so many landscaping details to look at but I particularly loved the textural use of cedar wood blocks and pebbles for patios.
I loved the design. I think the garden will be even better once time has done its magic, when some of the edges soften and the garden (which is only a year old) takes root in the landscape.
Shop til you drop
Highlights at the well-curated Newt shop included woven baskets from Somerset willow, a wooden beehive and ceramics by Richard Pomeroy.
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Book Newt Garden tickets
The garden is open throughout the Autumn and Winter. I booked my ticket for the garden online (£17.50 as opposed to £20 on the door) and was delighted to discover that the ticket also allows you as many visits as you wish within a year of purchase.
Although the car park was healthily full when I visited in September, there was plenty of room in the gardens and the cafes, shops and restaurants to be comfortably socially distanced.
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With many thanks, Charis x