We are now in our third year of a rolling ten-year garden plan, designed to ensure that all our estates have updated planting schemes and receive ongoing attention to keep them on track. While the rewards of this initiative will take time to make a big impact across all our estates, some gardens are already seeing wonderful results. Hayes End Manor in South Petherton is an excellent example.

The setting of Hayes End Manor is almost picture-perfect with its granary, manor house and enormous flax barn, but after 30 years its extensive gardens are in need of restoration as vigorous shrubs such as laurels and elaeagnus had taken over, leaving more colourful plants of the original landscaping literally in the shade. The dramatic decision was taken to clear those affected areas completely and start again, leaving them bare for a year to defeat the weeds, and start with a fresh canvas.

Estate manager Richard Bickerstaff started rigorous restoration around the estate in March 2017 and the planting plan was completed by landscape architects Paul and Ellen Bramhill that December. Two main lawn beds were replanted in spring 2018 taking care to plant at a sustainable density for the ultimate size of the plants. After a good growing season, the beds have started to look wonderful with much more colour impact. This year’s replanting has been concentrating on the main entrance beds bordering the drive which is the first and very important impression on every visitor.

By the end of this year almost half of our 60 estates will have their own professionally designed garden plan; planting has already started in 12. This huge task is being co-ordinated by garden advisor Charles Gilchrist assisted by four knowledgeable estate managers who are sharing their expertise around all our gardens: Sarah Hussey trained as a gardener with the National Trust, Will Leaper is a partner in an horticultural business, Mike Moore is an experienced manager and Eric Dougherty trained in botany at Ohio University and designed our composting system.