On a beautiful spring evening we welcomed Jess, Head Gardener of Knightshayes, the National Trust property on the edge of Tiverton and popular visitor attraction for locals and tourists alike. This stately home was built by John Heathcoat who travelled south with his lace-making machine in 1816, made his fortune and brought rewarding work to our town through a factory that is still flourishing, even making the lace for Princess Diana’s wedding veil. https://www.heathcoat.co.uk/
Jess was a fount of knowledge about the horticulturally significant garden on our doorstep. She works mainly in the beautiful woodland garden, but has also worked in the walled garden which was restored just under 20 years ago after having been allowed to go to lawn for many years. An account of how “green manure” is being used to help improve soil quality and help the vegetables thrive can be found by following this link: https://scienceforthegardener.co.uk/head-gardener-of-knights-hayes-n-trust-gardens-uk-jess-evans/
John Heathcoat’s grandson, Sir John Heathcoat Amory and his wife, Joyce Wethered, were keen gardeners, and built on the legacy of a garden created by Edward Kemp, one of the foremost landscape designers of the Victorian era. Their dedication and enthusiasm helped create a treasure trove of over 11,000 plants, one of the largest collections owned by the National Trust. Knightshayes boasts not only an walled organic kitchen garden, but terraced and woodland gardens and even an American-style garden near the driveway.