Hole’s Meadow is a 2 acre hidden garden set within one of the various medieval burgage plots in the village of South Zeal near Okehampton in Devon. With fabulous views looking up to Cawsand Beacon, part of the northern edge of Dartmoor National Park, the village lies at its foot. From the village’s main street, the garden is accessed by around a minute’s fairly level walk along a private path.
With an emphasis on wildlife gardening it’s partly dedicated to growing many herbs along with being home to two Plant Heritage National Plant Collections of Monarda (Bergamot, Bee Balm) and Nepeta (Catmint), of which around 100 forms of each are in each collection.
The Nepeta collection is mainly contained within an area akin to a more formal herb garden, edged in part with germander, chives and box with triangular beds meeting at the central bed, home to a Eucryphia. Numerous thyme, mint, rosemary, oregano, marjoram and no end of other herbs are planted nearby and are all much enjoyed by the bees in the garden’s apiary.
The actual Monarda collection specimens are grouped together in large planters to facilitate their care, but there are lots more in the young sizeable prairie style garden, started in 2016. This is also designed to add to the wildlife benefit, planting diversity and interest within the garden, particularly during high summer.
These National Plant Collections of Monarda and Nepeta were developed slowly over a number of years, with the original accessions being sourced from a wide variety of excellent nurseries from within the UK and EU as well as with seeds from the US. The Collections were awarded in early 2013 by Plant Heritage*, who also supervise their ongoing status. In order to hold a Collection, as well as other criteria, one has to maintain a minimum of three of each accession.
Elsewhere in the garden, you’ll find a small shade garden with the lawn edged by Conifers, Hostas, Acer, Camellia and Rhododendron. Vegetable beds, a large fruit cage, and orchard. Also ornamental trees including Magnolias, Catalpa, Liriodendron (Tulip tree) and Gingko. Then over a shallow stream with bog garden and Gunnera, to the young woodland area of native species, interspersed with mown pathways. Specialism in Monarda and Nepeta was chosen because they are both bee attractors, thus supporting the bee colonies based in the apiary on the site. When viewed together, the Collections are at their best from mid July to mid August, although the flowering season begins in late May/ early June for Nepeta and late June/ early July for Monarda.
Visitors to the Collections are very welcome, with the garden open each year for The National Garden Scheme, or to arrange a group visit. The village serves visitors extremely well with two local pubs; The Kings Arms and The Oxenham Arms plus a cafe at The Store, the village’s shop. There are further facilities in the neighbouring villages.
* Plant Heritage defines a National Collection as: “A National Plant Collection entails the stewardship of a well defined set of plants in cultivation that represents part of our national heritage.”
Recent blog posts
Do get in touch with any comments, queries or requests for garden visits.