Go west: a visit to a newly minted Royal Horticultural Society Partner Garden

PUBLISHED: 17:12 01 September 2017

Alison Hoghton and David Chase, Midney Gardens and Nurseries

Alison Hoghton and David Chase, Midney Gardens and Nurseries

Ruth Pavey

Ruth Pavey takes an August wander to the West Country to visit newly famous Midney Gardens and Nurseries

Midney Gardens and Nurseries, Somerset Midney Gardens and Nurseries, Somerset

The West Country is a good place for gardens and nurseries, some long famous, some just becoming so. Midney Gardens and Nurseries, Somerton, Somerset, count among the latter, having recently become a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Partner Garden. David Chase asked the RHS why his garden had been chosen for this distinction. The answer … that after some incognito visiting, they had picked Midney Gardens for the variety and interest of its planting in a relatively small space (c 1 acre), and for its quirkiness.

There are indeed some quirks, eg, an old paraffin heater here, a bus stop there, but eccentricity is not the main point. More important is the subtle and exciting combinations of colour David creates. He says he isn’t a painter, at least only with plants, but he certainly has a good eye and imagination, and the skill to get plants to work for him. In a series of linked gardens, with vistas through one to another and green as a constant foil, the colour combinations move on from, say, deep reds and purples, through purplish blues, to softer pinkish, peachy tones to bright yellows and oranges. You might think, what’s so special about that, don’t lots of gardeners grade their colours? Well yes, but not often so well.

I asked David how he starts thinking of a new planting scheme (the schemes are always changing) for instance, the bed we were standing near, with its reds, deep reds and coppery tones. The idea here, he said, had been to make a fire garden, a place to sit in the evening sun, cooking over a fire pit (something that has yet to happen). The plants include Echinacea ‘tomato’, Zinnia ‘single fire’, Persicaria ‘red dragon’, red currants, black perennial cornflowers, Dahlia ‘Arabian night’ and Rose ‘hot chocolate’. This is the garden in which the paraffin heater makes an associative appearance, glancing out between leaves. Fire is only one theme among many, eg, white, oriental, seaside, gin, kitchen, sleep, wild….

Earlier we had paused at the gateway from the car park for David to criticize his own colour composition, deeming a dark blue agapanthus too strong in tone against the soft green weeping grass (a wild grass already on the site) and some golden rod too bright … “this garden’s not as free and fluffy as you might think, specially the colours”. He often places plants in pots to see how they look before planting them out. The offending agapanthus will probably get split and potted up for the nursery.

Midney Gardens and Nurseries, Somerset Midney Gardens and Nurseries, Somerset

David grew up in Lowestoft. His father worked at Birdseye, but Lowestoft’s job opportunities were dwindling by the time he himself needed an apprenticeship. There was one available in floristry. So that was the start from which, with a few diversions into drumming and singing in punk rock bands, he has made a career in horticulture, sometimes as a head gardener, sometimes with his own landscaping business.

The business was based in Reading but David often worked in London, specially around Bloomsbury. When the recession bit in 2009, he and Alison Hoghton decided it was time to head west to look for somewhere they could live and develop a garden. The property they found was originally built for a gamekeeper, but a variety of activities have gone on there since. These include concrete cherub fabrication, fence panelling, watercress production, quarrying, all of which had left their traces. An old bus is reputed to be buried in the quarry, hence the bus stop standing out among the waving greens of the wild garden.

Much heavy work went into taming all this, but now it is a very enjoyable place to visit, not least because of Alison’s cakes in the tea room, and the chance to buy plants propagated on site. Allow some time, there’s a lot to take in….

Midney Gardens and Nurseries, Mill Lane, Somerton, Somerset, TA11 7HR Open Thursdays – Sundays, April – October

For more details visit midneygardens.co.uk

UPCOMING EVENTS, all well worth a visit

Sat. 2nd Sept. Plant Heritage, Grand Plant Fair, 10.00am – 3.30pm, Highgate School, N6 4 AY.

Sat. 2nd Sept. Muswell Hill Horticultural Society Autumn Show, 3.00pm, North Bank, Pages Lane, N10.

Sun. 3rd Sept. Golf Course Allotments, Winton Road, N11, open for the National Gardens Scheme 1.00 – 4.30pm.

Sat. 9th Sept. Hampstead Garden Suburb Horticultural Society Autumn Show, 3.00 – 5.30pm, Free Church Hall, Northway, NW11.

Sat. 16th Sept. Highgate Horticultural Society Autumn Show, 2.00 – 5.00pm, United Reformed Church, South Grove, N6 6BA.

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Other Hampstead and Highgate property news

4 ways to transform your Christmas tree

Looking for some seasonal decor inspiration? Gabrielle Fagan reveals her favourite festive finds

Home of the week: Unique penthouse-style apartment in Hampstead

This weeks choice is a property with double volume ceilings and spectacular views over central London

North London developer says the cut to stamp duty is a “gamechanger” for first-time buyers

Abolishing stamp duty for most first-time buyers will make it easier for them to get on the property ladder, according to a north London real estate developer

Comment: My response to the Chancellor’s budget

Trevor Abrahmsohn, director of north London agents Glentree Estates, believes the governments new housing proposals, as part of the Budget 2017, will go some way into making home ownership “a human right, rather than a privilege”

North London agents say government’s abolishment of stamp duty won’t help first-time buyers in the capital

Housing analysts and north London estate agents are among many who believe abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers will have little impact on the capital’s housing crisis

Winter patio pots looking lacklustre? Try 3 things to perk them up

Perk up your winter pots to keep them looking fabulous over the festive season

How to install a hidden wall safe

A discreet safe to keep valuables protected isn’t just something for the rich and famous to consider. Richard Burr reveals how to fit one

Christmas gift guide: 14 top picks for gardeners and green-fingered types

From sweet stocking-fillers to wow-factor pressies, these are bound to delight

Comment: My letter to our illusive housing minister

According to Simon Gerrard, managing director of Martyn Gerrard estate agents, the government are failing to deliver a strategic approach in response to the housing crisis

Former Hampstead guesthouse is for sale as a 7 bedroom residential home

Owner, Annemarie van der Meer hopes to sell the property to a buyer looking for a spacious family home

For sale in Highgate: top three

On the market this week are three historic properties with period features, high ceilings and far-reaching views in an eviable location

The Japanese wonder toilet taking the world by storm

TOTO, inventor of the ‘Washlet’, claim the rate of sales for their product in Europe has doubled year on year since launching in 2009

5 things to consider before storing your garden tools away for winter

Give your tools some TLC before you put them away for the winter. Our guide shows you how to look after them - and make them last

Home of the week: Converted Hampstead church

This weeks choice is a former Presbyterian Church, boasting a galleried mezzanine floor with rooftop views

Highgate area guide: schools, shops, pubs and parks

Your guide to things to do in Highgate, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in N6

Dress it up: 13 fabulous finds for giving your dressing table a mini or major makeover

With party season approaching, it’s time to take a look in the mirror and reassess your beauty station

5 top home improvements you should do instead of moving

Richard Burr reveals how to gain more space in your house

Four in ten London home sellers are cutting asking prices, the highest figure since 2010

Sellers have cut asking prices by an average of 6.7 per cent over the last month, according to new figures

Is it too late to plant bulbs? Not if you follow our guide

There’s still time to plant tulips and bring vibrant colour to your garden next spring

Three new properties on the market in Paddington

Paddington 2 was recently released in cinemas, but there’s more to this area than the bear with a fondness for marmalade

Belsize Park area guide: restaurants, schools, cinema and celebrities

Your guide to things to do in Belsize Park, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW3

Internationally renowned fireplace brand opens showroom in north London

The new gallery features high ceilings and an abundance of natural light, the perfect space for showcasing fireside, outdoor living and architectural products

3 wallpaper experts reveal their top style tips for 2018

Gabrielle Fagan speaks to those-in-the-know and reveals their top tips and wallpaper trend predictions for next year

Need more storage? How to build sturdy shelves in your alcoves in 5 simple steps

Richard Burr reveals top tips to help DIYers get the job done

For sale in Belsize Park: top three

On the market this week are two stucco-fronted properties with contemporary living space and a red-brick apartment featuring a private terrace

There’s lots to think about when it comes to buying a new carpet

Property columnist Jane Howdle weighs up practicality vs aesthetic

Home of the week: Hampstead Way

This weeks choice is set on a tree lined road, boasting a large lawned garden and an abundance of natural light

Rising interest rates and what it means for homeowners

The hike in interest rates is likely to send mortgage bills higher for millions of families and further disrupt the property market, according to a north London agent

How to make your supermarket basil last longer

Fed up with spending a fortune on supermarket basil? Follow our guide to making it last longer

Why we’re not all equipped for renovating

Columnist Jane Howdle explains why she’ll never buy a property that needs renovating

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

2017 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant