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Blog Post

This Week’s Guest Bloggers are Catriona Fursdon, Katie Vanstone and Becky Smith

Fursdon House and Gardens, Cadbury, Exeter, Devon.

The gardens of Fursdon House will be open on Wednesday 19th June 2pm-5pm  and the money raised from the entry to the garden on that day will be donated to Gardening for Disabled Trust Charity

The History of Fursdon House by Catriona Fursdon

The Fursdon family have lived in this place since 1259 – so we have our 760th anniversary this year!

David and I came to Fursdon in 1979 to take over the running of the house and the estate from John Fursdon, David’s uncle. We were newly married and had no clue about running a big house or a farming estate that was sadly rather rundown. Through a combination of misfortunes Fursdon was not in a good state of repair. We were lucky enough to have some wonderful mature trees, great views and a fabulous framework for a garden but it had been sadly neglected for many years. We had no money and no gardening knowledge – so the whole thing was a steep learning curve!

However, with the enthusiasm of youth we set about a restoration project that has been ongoing for the last 40 years. We are so grateful to friends and family who helped in those early days of keeping nettles and brambles at bay and a sense of humour intact. Mostly! We’ve had professional advice from friends with horticultural expertise and I (Catriona) attended a Royal Horticultural Society course a few years ago – so slowly but surely we made inroads into the garden which has been open to the public along with the manor house since 1982.

As confidence in the garden grew we started opening it to visitors even on days when the house was not open. And the biggest difference in the last few years has been the introduction of Katie who shares her flair for colour and horticultural design with us. Katie grows plants from seed in her own greenhouse thus adding a far wider range of flowers and shrubs than we’ve previously been able to have. She has made the gardens around the house into a very special place that visitors tell me is inspiring and uplifting. We are thrilled to benefit from her enthusiasm and expertise.

If visitors are feeling energetic, they can take a stroll to the Meadow Garden, a wilder area which we began to restore in 2009, with the creation of a pond and wildflower areas.  Work in the garden never stops and we don’t pretend that it’s perfect – but we derive huge pleasure from giving visitors the chance to experience this historic and special place.

It’s only right that Katie should have her say too:

I started working at Fursdon six years ago, when I was asked to help create and care for a Cutting Garden – growing flowers to be cut for the house, tea room, and holiday accommodation. It was an offer I couldn’t turn down!

A few years later, in October 2017, I was asked to take care of the main garden that surrounds Fursdon House, including rejuvenating and replanting some of the flowerbeds and borders that were becoming tired. The creative side of gardening is what I love most of all – combining colour and texture with plants and flowers provides endless possibilities and fun!

This season has been so rewarding; watching all the new planting mature, and I love to see visitors enjoying it too, and finding inspiration for their own gardens.  It’s lovely setting to work in. Fursdon is such a friendly, welcoming place, and I like to think the garden is too!

Relaxed, informal planting throughout the garden provides plenty of colour and interest through the seasons, and we very much encourage wildlife – visitors often comment on how alive the garden is with birdsong and buzzing bees. I love the tranquillity – and the fantastic views over beautiful Devon countryside at almost every turn are a real treat too. I just need to remind myself to look up and out of the borders every now and again… especially during the frantic month of May!!

Fursdon is a special place indeed.  I’m a lucky gardener.

Katie Vanstone.

General information about Fursdon by Becky Smith:

Our gardens and Coach Hall tearoom are open on Bank Holiday Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from Easter to the end of September, 2pm to 5pm.

We run relaxed and informative tours of the family home on all Bank Holiday Mondays, and Wednesdays and Thursdays in June, July and August (2.30pm and 3.30pm) and as part of this tour, visitors are delighted to take a look around our small family museum in which we display family costumes and other precious artefacts.

We are delighted to welcome groups to visit the house and gardens by arrangement – we have hosted numerous local WI’s, Historical Societies, Book Clubs and other groups – and we are very happy to open the tearoom for groups so that they can enjoy tea and cake either before or after they have explored!

We also have special open days where monies raised from the garden entry is given to various charities. This year, 2019, we are open for the National Garden Scheme on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June, Hospiscare on Wednesday  12th June and of course, the Gardening for Disabled Trust Charity on Wednesday 19th June (all 2pm-5pm – house, garden and tearoom open).

The Coach Hall tearoom has become somewhat legendary for its delicious home-made scones and variety of cakes, lovingly baked and served by Kashy.  We believe that no visit to Devon is complete without a proper Devon cream tea – freshly baked scones served with lashings of clotted cream under delicious strawberry jam accompanied by a perfectly brewed cup of tea!  We have lovely outdoor seating for when the sun is shining and a warming log fire in the Coach Hall for the chillier days.

And of course, if you feel like you might like to treat yourself to a longer visit, we also have accommodation on the estate, where you can escape the demands of ordinary life and relax in the heart of stunning mid Devon.  Fantastic Fursdon Cottage is available all year and has its own terraced garden – perfect for families, friends or couples – and dogs are welcome to stay in the cottage too!  Also, until the end of June 2019, we have 2 beautiful and stylish apartments on the first floor of Fursdon House – the Park Wing and the Garden Wing – which offer lovely historical features and up to date style, colour and comfort.

If you would like to know anything further about the House, gardens or accommodation (or how Kashy makes such superb apple cake!), please contact us on 01392 860860 or email admin@fursdon.co.uk.  Our website is www.fursdon.co.uk and there you will find pictures and more information about all that we do here.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog and we would be delighted to welcome you to Fursdon in the future!

Catriona, David, Katie, Becky and team

some of the photos by Guy Harrop

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