Thorn Garden - near Wembury
Wednesday 10th May 2017
On Wednesday 10th May, several members and friends went to visit Thorn Garden, near Wembury. The weather was perfect for an afternoon visit and the owner, Dr Eva Gibson and her husband, John made us all very welcome. This was despite several of us arriving late due to waiting for 20 minutes in the wrong place!
On arrival at the lovely house, we all admired the gorgeous wisteria as we joined Eva on the lawn. She told us some of the history of the house and garden – the house was originally known as Lockyer’s Cottage and later became known as South Wembury House. Finally, in the time of owner William Arkwright, in 1920, it became “Thorn House”. He died only 5 years later and it was then sold to the Hon. Ida Marie Sebag-Montefiore. In 1938, she donated 50 acres of headland to the National Trust on the condition that there would be no development of the area.
The Balustrade going down towards the Rose Garden
Thorn is a 9 acre south facing garden situated on the banks of the River Yealm. Eva and her husband bought the house in 1981 and she has continued to plant and evolve the garden over the last 36 years. Eva began the tour leading us down the lawn to a low rising balustrade and the siting of the first Trentham Vase. Eva told us that they were 18th century marble campana-shaped vases, sculptured with bands of laurelling, vinery and rams’ heads on a square pedestal of stone. Eva told how the lichen altered the colour of the vases and on one occasion she was asked why she didn’t “power wash” them!
Walking through the Rose Garden
Following down from the lawn, we approached the Rose Garden and continued onwards to the “Long Walk”.
Eva explained that this has been developed recently by removing large shrubs that used to line the path and replacing them with Buxus Sempervirens box balls in keeping with the spherical stone balls.
The Long Walk
At the bottom of the long walk, we were led through the Spanish Gates to a stunning panorama of the Yealm, with Newton Ferrers on the bank opposite where the Yealm meets the English Channel at Wembury Bay.
Those who were more sure footed took the path down to the woodland trail, admiring the Azalea garden en route.
Eva pointed out one of her many “Champion Trees” – a eucalyptus, whose common name is “mess-you-make” because of its continually peeling bark. This path led us down to a small quay where we could almost dip our toes in the water. On the way back up we passed many more wonderful plants and trees.
Eva provided us with a delicious cream tea and John entertained us all with several tunes on his organ, which was a lovely bonus! As we were leaving, John pointed out some more of the champion trees – the Abies Alba “Pendula”, the weeping silver fir and two mature Araucaria araucana, male and female monkey puzzle trees. He also recommended a vantage point, in order to admire a most spectacular view of the Yealm in the glorious sunshine. A perfect end to the visit.
Fantastic view of the River Yealm
The view from the front of the house