Our hosts, Anthony and Sue Young greeted us warmly with fresh coffee and homemade bara brith in their attractive conservatory. On the way to the front door, we were impressed by the neat pruning of the Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ and the Rosa banksiae ‘Lutescens’, which covers the front and side of their 18th century cottage, situated in a small hamlet 10 miles north east of Bath.Anthony gave us a short introduction to their home, explaining the origin of the name of the house. The Bishops Latimer and Ridley were led to their martyrdom in 1555 in Oxfordshire and before being burnt to death, Latimer’s last words to Ridley were “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." He turned to us to ask us the origin of the name Fagus for our group. There was a slight hesitation as we racked our brains and we then informed him that the original idea has been to combine a well-known tree with the initials of Friends and Gardening United Society.He showed us a small potted fern leaf beech, Fagus sylvatica var. heterophylla 'Aspleniifolia’ which he cultivates and recommended that Fagus members should do the same.
The gardens are well landscaped with sloping lawns, stone walling and box hedges in cubes, obelisks and pyramids. There is an interesting collection of shrubs and trees including acers, magnolias, liriodendrons, tree peonies, deutzias, daphnes, oaks, beech and hollies. Anthony is extremely knowledgeable and accompanied us round the garden willingly answering our horticultural questions.
In the first lawn there is a young standard Wisteria venusta with a twisted stem which Anthony had specifically chosen for its short white racemes. The lawn is framed with beds containing a large Exchorda geraldii which was in full flower, an Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’ underplanted with cyclamen, trilliums, ethronyium, beautiful white Fritillaria meleagris subvar.alba and hellebores. Everything looked extremely healthy, well pruned and not a weed in sight. We moved through an arch to a small potager enclosed with beech hedges.There are huge white magnolias at the back of the house and some 130 different species and cultivars of roses for visitors to enjoy later in the year. A vigorous ‘Madame Alfred Carriére’ rose covers an attractive arch and we noted the Cornus nuttallii ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ which has attractive white flowers. There were drifts of Narcissus ‘White Lady’ and a very floriferous Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Somerset Variegated’.There is a 2 acre arboretum at the back of the house with a huge range of unusual trees and a wonderful deep pink magnolia. Mown paths led us through the arboretum. Since the early 1970's, over 4,000 trees have been planted and some new planting is undertaken every year. The snake bark of the Acer davidii ‘Ernest Wilson’ attracted many of us. Another tree of note was the Tilia cordata ‘Westonbirt’ with a dainty leaf and fruits. Anthony has further increased his garden by acquiring fields around the cottage and has turned them into a 3 acre wild flower meadow. At the time of our visit, we spotted drifts of cowslips in those fields. Later on they must look wonderful.This is definitely a garden to revisit.
It is open through the NGS on Sunday 27 May 2pm to 6pm. Otherwise by appointment.