Kilver court is an RHS partner garden in Shepton Mallet, Somerset and as we were visiting North Devon last week, we took a detour en route to visit. The RHS book and Kilver Court’s website gives the summer closing time as 5p.m, actually when we got there the small ticket office states the closing time as 4.30p.m. The garden is compact, with only 4 key areas, allowing an hour to visit would be ample, stopping for lunch and shopping allow longer. £5.00 for adults. There is a restaurant/cafe, a very small plant shop and the garden is at the rear of some upmarket designer discount shops, including Mulberry.
The gardens are immaculately kept and mostly formal, without current prairie planting or wildflower areas, Kilver has a very tamed feel. The rock garden was inspired by a Chelsea gold winning garden designed by George Whiteleggs in the 1960s and then recreated at Kilver court. The conifer planting was a blast from the past.
Beyond the rock garden to the left and the other side of the main garden boundary walls is the organically run, community vegetable garden. In 2009, this area was cleared of brambles and larch wood raised beds installed. Some of the beds are being used by local schools and the remainder to grow produce for Kilver’s cafe.
Alongside Kilver’s boundary walls and the vegetable garden runs the Mendip Way footpath. 80 kilometres long, running across the Mendip Hills, from Weston super-mare to Frome. The footpath cuts through Shepton Mallet and there are some fabulous detailed walking opportunities here in the East Mendips.
Leaving the Vegetable garden and brief glimpse of the Mendip Way footpath we returned to the main garden and on to the Parterre and herbaceous borders, designed by Roger Saul in 1996. The Parterre has seating allowing time to just sit for a while and admire the roses and the herbaceous borders were full of luxuriant planting set against the stone walls of Kilver.
Kilver Court has been maintained by two long standing Gardeners for twenty five years and has the feel of being inside a private garden that is lovingly cherished and only open rarely, rather than a garden open to the public daily.