The October meeting of the Dawlish Garden Society welcomed Angela Dodd-Crompton to talk about her time at the Italianate Garden at Great Ambrook where she has spent 13 years and over 13,000 hours volunteering, investigating and uncovering the original design.
Angela was here to update us all on the progress and fresh developments at the garden, hidden off the Newton Abbot to Totnes road. The garden is mainly walled, covering about 4 acres on a hillside, built at a time when Italianate gardens were very fashionable in the Arts and Crafts period before the 1st World War. Typically designed and constructed to give an impression of being in Italy with considered planting and buildings.
As she explained the history of the original owners and architect, she illustrated her talk with many old photographs collected over the years with a detectives zeal, gathering snippets of information from many sources.
We saw images of the garden taken in its heyday from 1909-1940, including some of the Tennis Pavilion with a plunge pool for cooling off after a strenuous match perhaps. The garden was completely lost between 1963 and 1988 but rediscovered by Ken and Doris Rees who cleared the paths and structures. Angela was able to show with the photographs how quickly the garden reverted back to nature for a second time more recently, becoming dreadfully overgrown when the gardener was let go after dedicated owner Ken died in 2013.
Since then the garden has attracted much interest and now has listed status as well as other protections in place.
Angela is working closely with the new owners advising on the historical details, planting and significance of this important garden, liaising with local organisations who offer coordinated clearing days to discover and reveal more of the original design.
After questions from the members, the chairman thanked Angela for her enthusiastic and informative talk with a promise of an arranged visit next Spring.
From a wide choice of entries, Flower of the Month was won by Valerie Carne for a large Dahlia, the raffle this month was a Rose and Peony toiletries gift set.