Saturday, 5 September 2015

Midney Gardens and Nursery - A new Somerset plot full of surprises

The seaside garden at Midney
Although the British have a great passion for garden visiting, there are not that many new gardens around the country. So when I accidentally stumbled upon Midney in Somerset - traditionally a country where the gardens are either those of great houses or in the hands of the National Trust - I was delighted. This is a true plantsman's garden with some very unusual plant combinations.
The Clarice Cliff garden created by Dave Chase
Midney has been created over the last six years by Dave Chase and his partner, Alison Houghton. Dave has always been a passionate gardener and worked for many years with Marylyn Abbott at West Green House in Hampshire. He is a great admirer of Sylvia Crowe's designs and likes Jekyll's prolific planting style - both are obvious influences on the delightful small garden that he has created here.
The gin garden at Midney in Somerset
But prepare to be surprised, because although you will recognise the Crowe influence in the curving lines of the pathways and the palette of Gertrude Jekyll in the planting, Dave has put his own stamp on the garden here. And, if you keep your eyes open, you will see many unusual and humorous touches as you wander through it.
Midney is very different in style to the National Trust gardens in Somerset
Created on the site of a former quarry, Dave and Alison dug up some interesting junk when they began clearing the land around the former gamekeeper's lodge at the heart of the property that is now their home. They found many scrap items that they have effectively incorporated into the garden design, including gates and other metal objects like the rusty bicycles that are effectively used as plant supports in the vegetable garden.
The vegetable garden at Midney
This is a small garden full of original ideas, cleverly planted to give a range of different colour palettes and incorporating a seaside garden (charming); a Clarice Cliff garden (inspiring); a fire garden (complete with fire pit - useful if we had the weather to enjoy it to the full); a white garden (always a favourite with visitors) and a gin garden (inspired by the various ingredients); to name but a few of the different areas open to visitors.
Midney is clearly a work in progress and Dave is the first to admit that it's all taken longer in the making than he anticipated, but he clearly loves the outdoor life here and the garden is beginning to attract more visitors each year. Two new areas under development are the woodland walk and the wildlife pond, accessible through the now well-established vegetable garden.
There is also a nursery, stocked with many of the plants you see growing in the garden. So for something different to the historical gardens that make up the well-trodden National Trust quadrangle locally - Barrington Court, Lytes CareyTintinhull and Montacute - head to Midney on the outskirts of the charming village of Somerton in the south-west corner of the county. Open from the beginning of April to mid-October, Thursday-Sunday 11.00-17.00. Admission is £4.50 for adults.

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