Autumn treeNovember is such an atmospheric month in the garden, the lakes display beautiful golden reflections, the (somewhat slippery) paths are now covered with a confetti of pink and yellow leaves. Leafless trees, reveal the beauty of bark and tree structure. Conifers and evergreen trees begin to be more noticeable. In reaction to low light levels, wet conditions and cooler days, the plants have started to slow down and head for cover, not to unlike our hardy gardeners and volunteers, who favour more indoor based work such as propagation, nursery work, label making when it all gets too much. 

The grass is cut less frequently (phew!), most of the summer colour is finished, the flower borders are various shades of yellows and browns. We are moving plants under cover into the polytunnels and frames, protecting from excessive winter wet and frost. The seemingly endless cycle of leaf clearance has begun again, ready to add to compost. However, the reward for all this hard work is leaf litter, which is a fantastic mulch for plants.

In the garden there are still some pockets of colour, the unusual Autumn flowering snowdrops are popping up across the garden. Late summer flowering plants such as chrysanthemum, large leaved Salvia’s, late flowering Asters and Hydrangeas still provides pockets of colour. Ornamental grasses such as Stipa gigantea and Miscanthus ‘Malepartus’ offer structure to the garden. In the woodland there is lots of autumn leaf colour to be seen. The Sweet Gum (Liquidambar) and the Sorrell Tree. (Oxydendron) look particularly good. 

  Leaf fall in the bog garden


Looking back at October Achievements

Marsh area 1

We are so excited to have prepped our marsh area so our national Iris ensata will be planted in spring. If you would like to find out more about Marwood Iris ensata please keep an eye on our website. One of our garden team has written an informative article, that has been published in the most recent Devon Plant Heritage Magazine. 


Our main focus is propagation still. Camellia cuttings being taken for future years. Many more plants are now being lifted from the gardens and potted for sales next year, plants such as Astelia/Hesperantha that have thrived in the garden will be made available for sale next season. This winter’s Camellias are now potted, fed and ready for sale.

Development of far side of scree garden is underway. This area is being cut back and cleared with the intension of developing  it into a scented winter garden. Already there are many Daphnes, scented Rhododendron and Japanese box in this area.  

 Marsh area development


Garden News

Fin in pond

We have said goodbye to Fin. After a year and a half of volunteering, with us he has left to undertake an apprenticeship. He will be greatly missed by all the team.


We are happy to welcome back a some of our hardier volunteers, who brave the weather and help us through the winter months. 




Garden volunteer, Fin



Season ticket holders walk. 

Season Ticket Holders Walk
It was a beautiful sunny day (eventually) and there was a great turn out exceeding 50 people snaking across the garden. Much later than usual. Great success lots of autumn colour. Lots of old amusing stories recounted by Malcolm Pharoah (former head gardener)


Final piece of news, now that the garden is closed, we are pleased to welcome the season ticket holders Monday to Sunday. 




October Season Ticket Holder walk




This is definitely a favourite time of year in the garden for both myself and many of our visitors. The herbaceous perennials of late summer begin to die down but autumn colour has not quite arrived. It could be presumed that the garden would begin to look quite tired, however here in the gardens there are several truly spectacular flowers that choose this ‘sleepy’ time to flower.

Marwood’s Garden Tearoom is the perfect place to gaze at the tall, golden flowered Stipa gigantea, which really looks beautiful in the low afternoon light. The black leaved Actaea simplex, with its contrasting white fragrant flower spikes looks striking in the borders. The deep blue hooded flowers of Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Arendsii’ and Salvia ‘Amastrad’ contrast well with the silver foliage of ArtemisiaRubus tibetanus (Tibetan bramble) and Plectranthus argentatus (silver spurflower). Topping it all off are masses of pink flowering Clerodendrum bungei and magnificent clumps of Kniphofia rooperi (red hot poker). Its bright orange beacons lighting up the garden.

‘The Planting a Bog, Blog’


Looking back at the August 2020 blog, we were just emerging from the national lockdown. I wrote at the time that regrettably the three B’s ‘Brambles, Bindweed and Balsam’ took control of many areas of the garden. This month the B’s ARE BACK and our attention has been frustratingly spent on tackling and removing these weeds. Once more our apologies if you’ve visited and seen grumbling gardeners lost in the brambles.

 Astilbe Ice Cream

Marwood Hill Garden was featured on Gardener’s world this month!  It was filmed on a sunny June day in 2019 and featured Malcolm Pharoah sharing his expertise on Astilbes. It was great to see Malcolm get much deserved recognition for his dedication to the national Astilbe collection and to Marwood Hill garden.

We are now officially open. a quick initial opening of the plant sales area over the Easter weekend before an official opening of the site on 14th of April. The garden is starting to feel like its old self again. Our loyal season ticket holders have not forgotten us, with many choosing to renew their membership and visit the garden. Many holiday makers are already arriving coming from across the UK.

This month in the garden it has been all about the bluebells displays, enchanting flowering cherries and the more subtle flowering dogwoods. Everywhere you look plants are emerging and unfurling in the first green flush of growth. Blue sky, dry and sunny weather, has framed the garden beautifully.


Now is a great time to take a walk across Marwood Hill Garden, the floral scent is phenomenal. The weather has been amazing this past week. Blue skies, sun, and warmth. Let us hope it continues into the Easter weekend. Flowers are sprouting up across the garden in a colour explosion. With no frost to worry about, the magnolias have put on a great display with an eruption of pinks, purples, and whites across the garden, contrasting well with the whites, reds, and pinks of the late flowering Camellias.

As I write this month’s blog, the sun is streaming in through the window. The garden is very spring like, a small colony of white and purple crocus have colonized the tearoom lawn. Snowdrops and hellebores which are still flowering but will soon give way to the masses of daffodils that are spread across the garden. Camellias are in full bloom in shades of red, pink, and white and the magnolias are covered in fat flower buds promising a good display in the next few months. There is an air of optimism in the garden with many local residents and garden volunteers having already received their first vaccinations, so there is a feeling of real positivity and that normality is just round the corner.

November to mid-February, is an ideal time to look at tree work in the garden. With leaves removed the branch structure of a tree can be better accessed and with most bulbs and herbaceous perennials lying dormant and protected under the ground, falling branches can do little damage. Conifers put on a new flush of growth in April and deciduous trees tend to lie dormant in the winter months, with sap only again beginning to rise from mid-February onwards. which makes it an ideal time to prune trees.

With the leaves having fallen from the trees, the bones of the garden have now been revealed. The bright white bark of the birch and eucalyptus are very striking and many of the smooth-barked magnolias are covered with a wide diversity of lichen in an array of interesting colours, white, grey, orange, blue, green and yellow. Some flowers persist including early flowering Camellias and Rhododendrons which are starting to show, flashes of pink, white and red. The white bell flowers of Leucojum (Spring Snowflake) and early daffodils can also be seen emerging from the woodland floor.

November has been a quiet month. The November national lockdown meant that holiday makers and visitors to our gardens all but disappeared, despite this we felt it was important to keep the garden open to provide a place for people to get a bit of fresh air and recreation.

It’s October and despite the rather wet weather the trees are still putting on a good show. An explosion of colour has erupted from Marwood’s woodland canopy. Flame-like reds and oranges, cooler lemon-yellows vie for attention against the richer, buttery tones. Trees that have been quite indistinguishable during spring and summer suddenly draw attention.

Wow what a busy month!!! This September has been an unusually busy month. Traditionally September would be a quieter time in the garden, when we see fewer visitors, as summer holidays end and the new school year begins. This year has been quite different. Children may have gone back to school, but much to our delight, garden visitors have continued to come to explore Marwood. Which has allowed us to show off the late summer highlights in the garden.

It has been several months since I have sat down and written the Head Gardener’s Blog. That is not to say when lockdown happened Marwood completely stopped, far from it.

Regrettably like other businesses many of our staff were furloughed. At the time of lockdown all the hard work had been done and our plant centre was full of a fantastic range of plants ready for sale and the garden was looking immaculate. After a week of trading the door was duly shut again (mid March). Despite this’ always keen to focus on the positive’ the Marwood Team viewed lockdown as an opportunity. It was the ideal time for us to set up the Online Shop. Boxes were sourced, couriers were chosen, and the Online Shop was developed. Much needed income started to flow into the business.

Take a tour of Marwood Hill Gardens in April 2020

If you go down in the woods today.......

Spring has finally reached the garden. Marwood is now dotted with pink, reds and whites. The early flowering Magnolia, Camellia and Rhododendron are blooming across the garden. The richly perfumed pale pink Magnolia sprengeri. The dark pink cabbage sized flowers of Magnolia campbellii subsp. Mollicomata are looking amazing, contrasting well with the nearby magnolia purple-pink flowered Magnolia ‘Charles Raffill'. Salix gracilistyla 'Mount Aso' is looking resplendent, with its bright red winter shoots above its pink and silver fluffy male catkins (available for sale). Look out for early spring flowering herbaceous perennials such as strikingly blue daisy like Anemone blanda and dark blue flowering Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’.

After four successive storms Atiyah, Brendan, Ciara and Dennis, three large trees have failed in the garden. One large Eucalyptus has fallen into the upper lake, with two other trees coming down in the bog garden and folly area. Many branches and detritus litter the garden. The tree surgeons made clever use of a small boat and a winch to remove the eucalyptus from the top lake and the garden team have been busy clearing fallen branches and logs away. With so many fallen trees, much space has been created for new planting opportunities.

February is here, bringing with it the prospect of lighter evenings, much to the relief of the garden team. We are however not out of the woods yet; the continuing battle with the wet weather which has fully saturated the garden and the threat of frost is still a very real possibility.

Early flowering Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ was the first bulb to emerge throughout the garden followed quickly by snowdrops, Hellebores and most recently Leucojum vernum (Spring snowflake). Early flowering Camellias, Rhododendron nobleanum and R. ‘Christmas Cheer’ have provided splashes of purple, pink, white and red.

My Name is Matthew Brewer, I have recently taken on the role of head gardener at Marwood Hill Gardens.

In all honesty, before last June, I had never heard of this garden but for a chance visit to Marwood whilst holidaying with my family. Upon entering the garden we naturally headed for the tearoom. Halfway through a ginger scone, an impromptu interview with the Garden Manager and my fate was sealed. Before joining Marwood I was working as a woodland Horticulturalist at RHS garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire, together with a hardy band of volunteers clearing and developing its woodland.