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Please check with garden owners or their website to confirm current dates open Sat 4th + Sun 5th May 2013: 2-5pm
Small coaches only (11' 3 clearance)
Sat 4th + Sun 5th May 2013
March - July
Camellias, cornus, bog garden, magnolias, bluebells & cherries
Adult £4; Children free.
Weekly accommodation available at numerous cottages on the estate, see own website.
The unspoilt beach and garden have featured in many films and TV series, including in recent years, Rebecca, Sense & Sensibility and Hornblower.
Kitley Hotel, Yealmptom
Mildmay Colours, Holbeton
Old School Tea shop, Mothecombe Mildmay Colours, Holbeton
Private estate village hamlet Private beach Coastal footpath
Mothecombe Gardens lie at the mouth of the Erme estuary, surrounded by the Flete Estate. You approach the garden through the hamlet of Mothecombe, which consists of fifteen thatched estate cottages. It is like stepping back in time.
Mothecombe House is a Queen Anne house with additions by Sir Edwin Lutyens. On the south front is a walled garden with Lutyens Terraces with wisteria, irises and agapanthus, and a lawn with herbaceous borders. A door leads to an orchard underplanted with daffodils, with a camellia walk to the woodland garden. Here the camellias, magnolias and cherries give way to rhododendrons, hydrangeas and mixed shrubs. These are underplanted with masses of snowdrops and hellebores followed by Solomon's seal and sheets of bluebells as spring advances. Round the corner you suddenly hear the sea, and can access the private beach through a wicket gate.
Returning along the bottom path you pass a pond with a giant gunnera opposite masses more hellebores and snowdrops, and a thicket of brilliant willow and cornus planted to catch the low winter sunshine, followed by pieris forestii and deciduous azaleas. The next blaze of colour is in the bog garden, with masses of cool green ferns and huge arum lilies, skunk cabbage, iris, primulas, astilbes and hostas. In June, there is a dramatic display of flowering cornus above the bog garden.
Later in the year, grassy paths lead through shrub roses up to the Duchess' Walk and hazel tunnel to Mothecombe Grove and the Autumn garden and back between two pillars of eucryphia x nymansensis which absolutely hum with bees in August.
Mothecombe House was built in 1710 for John Pollexfen, a farmer, to replace the modest green cottage, his original farmhouse. The walled garden, cut flower garden and stables are contemporary with the 1710 house. Henry Bingham Mildmay bought Mothecombe in 1870 and a year later also bought the Flete estate and joined the two properties with a five-mile carriageway along the River Erme. In 1925 his son Alfred Mildmay commissioned Edward Lutyens to build a new wing, including a dining room on the south west side of the house. Lutyens also re-modelled the terrace and walled garden and designed the garden buildings with a characteristic sweep at the corners of the roof. Mildmay planted the magnificent tree rhododendrons and the troughs of agapanthus on the terrace, which still remain. In 1950 Henry's granddaughter, Helen, moved to Mothecombe on the death of her brother Anthony, the famous amateur jockey and racehorse owner. Helen constructed the bottom path through the orchard and opened up the ponds and bog garden.She also planrted the camellia walk and many ornamental shrubs and trees throughout the garden. Anne, the wife of the present owner, has greatly extended the plantings especially along the banks of the stream by the cottage and in the bog garden, but also in the woodland garden, and in the paddock. She has also undertaken much underplanting to provide Spring and early summer colour.