Last minute availability for 16, 17, 18, 20 & 31 October
01822 870000

Having gone through one lonely spring last year we have decided we can’t let another one go by unappreciated

The Endsleigh Gardener
Ben Ruscombe-King

Spring is somehow more resonant this year than ever, as humanity reawakens from a very real winter hibernation, blinking into the glorious spring sunshine full of hope and optimism, with only the occasional icy blast of wind to remind us not to take it all for granted. Endsleigh is as usual wonderful this spring and having gone through one lonely spring last year we have decided we can’t let another one go by unappreciated.

The garden is perhaps a little unkempt this year due to staff being furloughed but during springtime’s ebullience none the worse for it. The rhododendrons and azaleas are of course the stars of the show at this time of year with their ‘look at me’ brashness, but for me the real beauty lies in the subtleties of the wild flowers. The banks covered in primroses, wood anemones, daffodils, wild garlic and bluebells always get the heart going a little faster and that special green of trees fresh into leaf, lasting just a few weeks, is perhaps the quintessence of spring, giving one that extra burst of energy so necessary at this time of year.

The bulbs are having their moment in the borders, tulips, scilla, ipheon and muscari in full bloom, with alliums, camassia and asphedoline hot on their heels, all backed by Euphorbia chariacas for that extra hit of spring green and the foliage of the summer perennials bursting forth ready to fill the borders with colour through the summer months.

The garden at Endsleigh has highpoints throughout the year but in the springtime it really shouts and this year it feels like it’s shouting “welcome back!”

Afternoon tea is now available in the garden and includes admission to our springtime garden. Choose to sit at a table and have it served to you or preorder our new picnic afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea

Previous blog

The sun is lower in the sky, mists swirl around blocking out the outside world

Photo by @sept_septembre

The Endsleigh Gardener
By Ben Ruscombe-King

Wandering through the garden at this time of year is an exercise in reflection, of reviewing and taking stock. Although the untrammelled hope and enthusiasm of spring have now been tempered by the unexpected or unplanned for realities, it is now that the germs begin to form in our heads, to be mulled over, through the dark winter months, ready to burst forth when the time is again ripe. 

The garden itself seems to encourage contemplation, the sun is lower in the sky, colours are more muted, plants withdraw into themselves and mists swirl around blocking out the outside world. The whole place is more intimate and secluded and encourages a certain introspection. There is however no lack of beauty to behold, not the obvious ‘in your face’ beauty of spring and summer but something to be sought out and altogether more evocative. Look upwards and the once impenetrable canopy, now diminished, lets through beams of low autumn light. The reds, oranges and yellows of the leaves light up, the native beech and oak combine with more exotic Japanese Acers, Gingkos and Halesia to create an almost stained glass effect. Look down at the intricate patterns of seed heads, or the fascinating shapes and rich colours of the fallen leaves. Breath deeply and take in the distinctive aroma of autumn: mellow earthiness and woodsmoke overlaid with a toffee apple sweetness from Katsura and Douglas firs. Listen to the sounds of the water and wildlife that echo around the valley, somehow more resonant now as the muffling, vegetation begins to disappear.

The borders are still full of colour with anemone, sedums and asters jostling for supremacy, whilst persicarias, kalimeris, ceratostigma, salvias, knautia, verbena and perovskia (recently renamed and now just another sage) will keep on flowering until the first frosts. The colour is now more muted than high summer but none the worse for it. The cornus, cotinus and fothergilla add autumn tints to the mix and the backdrop of the trees in their resplendent autumn wardrobe creates a picture as inspiring as anything the summer has to offer. Add to this the mists that snake along the Tamar valley as the sun rises and you have the timeless atmosphere that so encapsulates Endsleigh.

The Dell to me is the most atmospheric part of the garden, but that atmosphere is somehow distilled in the autumn, it has a rarified magical quality quite unlike anywhere else. The ghosts of the past are palpable, yet not overbearing, it is of the past but in the present and has somehow taken on a life of its very own. We try to manage the garden with this magic in mind, trying to hold the garden in that stasis between nurture and abandonment, though this is not the easy option it might at first sound. I was approached by a visitor a few weeks ago who commented that the garden seemed untouched, I think he meant it in a positive way though I’m not entirely sure. My response was that it takes a great deal of work, to make a garden look this uncared for. A rock covered in moss and ferns would be covered in nettles and brambles if left to its own devices. Similarly the wildflower filled banks would become knotweed or hogweed thickets without intervention. I love the idea of the garden feeling light of touch but effortless it is not.

Endsleigh has much to offer at this time of year, from the terrace in front of the hotel one can sit and contemplate the colour filled long border with views across the mist enveloped Tamar and surrounding autumn hued woodland. Whilst for the more intrepid visitor there are hours of adventures to be had crunching through autumn leaves, along hidden paths and up secret stairways, through dak tunnels and shell filled grottoes, over rustic bridges and crashing waterfalls, with miles of walks through the woods and along the river. With one’s appetite for exploration sated, the perfect end to a perfect adventure is to sit in front of a roaring fire in the drawing room, perhaps with one of Endsleigh’s legendary cream teas or maybe something a little stronger.