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A look back at this years English Country Garden Festival

Events Coombe Trenchard, GardensSarah MarshComment

A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone that came along and supported our much loved English Country Garden Festival on 2nd and 3rd of June this year

From the exhibitors and stall holders, to the volunteers and charities including Childrens Hospice South West, our media sponsors, Devon Life, and our hard working in-house team and family - all of whom helped us to put on a great event.

Good old fashioned community spirit was flying high throughout the weekend, and I am thrilled to share that the English Country Garden Festival 2018 was a terrific success.

Visitors numbers were up significantly this year, with over 2,500 people through the gates. 

The weather was most kind, our marketing activity made a real impact, and our exciting rebranding was very well received - everyone loved to see Jasper stealing the show on our new event logo designed by Laura of Mingo Mingo Studio.

Lorna and I continue to pay particular attention to the selection of high quality exhibitors, and our visitors remain delighted by what they find when they come along.

It is incredibly important to us that the festival provides a special, memorable, vibrant, high quality experience throughout - with a growing number of repeat visitors year on year, so we always aim to have a 30% range of new exhibitors to the Festival each year.

Our mission is to keep the Garden Festival fresh, interesting and supportive of local enterprise as the event celebrates some of the regions best independent producers, arts, crafts, and growers.

Our return visitor numbers are growing in our 7th year of the festival - and we're told how much they love the event from it's location, to the stalls, the atmosphere and the food.  Several have even declared it a calendar highlight for them, and the word is spreading, so we will continue with our quest to deliver an event that ticks the boxes and is thoroughly enjoyed by all.

The media support we enjoy from Devon Life and Cornwall Life magazines is greatly appreciated - did you see our two page editorial feature together with an exclusive 2 for 1 voucher this year? Our thanks to Andy Cooper and Catherine Courtenay particularly for the editorial and social media support they kindly provide.

This year for the first time, we introduced the ‘return for free on Sunday’ incentive, which proved a remarkable success, as not only did many visitors enjoy a second day for the price of one, but in most cases they returned with a family member of a group of friends.  We shall look to offer a similar scenario for next year, so watch this space. 

The English Country Garden Festival 2019 will be held on 1st and 2nd June 2019.

And we are already plotting and planning new ideas, recruiting new exhibitors and stall holders, as well as inviting our visitor favourites back for another year. 

Would you like to exhibit your wares and join us in 2019?

Our pitch fees are extremely reasonable, so if you or anyone you know would like to apply for an information pack, do get in touch by emailing lorna@coombetrenchard.co.uk

We couldn't create such a wonderful event without each and everyone mentioned above, and we truly appreciate and value your comments, feedback, ideas. We also love to see your images too.

Did you come along this year? 

We'd love to hear from you if you did, and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2019.

Kind words go a long way to help us here at Coombe Trenchard, so if you could take a moment to leave a Google review on us, we would be so very grateful. Leave a review.

Or if you'd like to share your thoughts and images with us direct, do always feel free to email us. My thanks to those who have already been in touch to say how much you enjoyed this years show, and for the comments on our facebook page too.

To learn that so many of you love Coombe Trenchard almost as much as we do, quite simply makes the hard work worth it.

Wishing you a wonderful summer, and I look forward to sharing more of what we have in store for next years festival with you soon.

Sarah x





What our friends say about Coombe Trenchards English Country Garden Festival

Events Coombe Trenchard, GardensSarah MarshComment

Time really does fly - and I cannot quite believe that we will be hosting our much loved English Country Garden Festival once again next weekend on the 2nd and 3rd of June.

The festival is a labour of love for us all here at Coombe Trenchard, and for our stall holders, our dear friends, supporters, and our volunteers - all of whom help us to ensure year on year, the weekend is seamless and throughly enjoyed by everyone.


As the last 7 days leading up to our cheery festival unfold, and we crank up a gear with all the preparations this brings, I thought I'd share a few words from a loyal member of the Coombe Trenchard community, Miranda Waite.

Miranda is the wonderful step daughter of Lorna Vanier, and for those that don't know, Lorna is indeed my right hand lady when it comes getting this show on the road each year, and I am extremely grateful to both Lorna and Miranda for their support.


Q. Tell us a little about yourself, and how you first became involved with the English Country Garden Festival at Coombe Trenchard?

A. I came to visit the festival the first year it started 7 years ago, and not only did I fall in love with the setting and location, I really enjoyed the variety of stalls and the friendly happy atmosphere.

Q. The Festival is delighted to welcome visitors and stall holders from across the South West, with a great emphasis on supporting local independent businesses and the tranquil setting that Coombe Trenchard gardens lend. For those that haven’t visited the festival before – can you share some personal highlights from previous years?

A. There is so much - it’s hard to pinpoint! I really love the plants, the artwork and sculptures, and the crafts. The crafts are brilliant every year and it's great to see many small independent local businesses and their wares.

Q. What would you say is unique and extra special about the annual festival, something that you perhaps don’t see at other garden shows?

A. The setting is second to none - you can't beat having a lovely Pimms whilst watching the croquet and soaking up the atmosphere (and hopefully the sunshine!) in the beautiful gardens.

Q. Can you tell us what you are most look forward to seeing and enjoying at the Festival this year?

A. The lovely selection of stalls - many familiar faces and there are always some new gems that Sarah and Lorna have found to be part of the show. Oh, and the food - the chance to enjoy some delicious food!

Q. Do you have a favourite spot within the Gardens and grounds of Coombe Trenchard?

A. There are so many beautiful spots on the estate, but I have to say I do love walking down through the woodland walk to arrive at the festival, it's so peaceful and unspoiled.

Q. Local foodie stalls and drinks play a huge part at events like this – tell us which stalls you will be savouring this year. 

A. The tea on the lawn.. with lots of home made cakes - plenty of Gluten free too! It's a real treat!


Q. The cream tea debate lives on – tell us, is it Clotted Cream first or Strawberry Jam?

A. Living in Cornwall now, I really ought to say jam first, which is the Cornish way....but I must confess I actually like my cream tea the Devon way, Clotted Cream first with a large splodge of jam on the top! 

Q. And finally, if you had to sum up the English Country Garden Festival in just three words, what would they be.

A. Beautiful. Delightful... and Delicious!


Heartfelt thanks to Miranda for these kind words which are echoed by so many of our visitors. Every year I am blown away by the lovely cards and notes of thanks which are sent to me after the festival - it is one of the reasons why I will continue to look forward sharing my home with others for years to come.

See you on the 2nd & 3rd of June!

Sarah xx



The English Country Garden Festival 2018

Events Coombe TrenchardSarah MarshComment

With the wet cold winter hopefully firmly behind us, and as our gardens at Coombe Trenchard spring into life, we are looking forward to hosting our annual garden show once again for the 7th year running.

Each year on the first weekend of June, Coombe Trenchard opens its gates to exhibitors and visitors from the South West and beyond, to share the tranquility of our gardens and celebrate English Country Garden life.

Specialist plant growers provide a riot of colour to delight our visitors, as well as being on hand to offer lots of great tips and advice. There will be many vintage home and garden treasures too, as well as unique artisan craft makers.

Children’s Hospice South West will be providing a delicious selection home baked cakes and teas on the sunny south terrace, using beloved recipes tried, tested and shared by us all here at Coombe Trenchard.

And once again there will be Edwardian croquet amongst a host of traditional family garden games for all to enjoy.

Freshly prepared hot lunches will also be available on the Italian terrace, and of course there will be ice cream...


The show this year has been rebranded using our stunning peacock ‘Jasper’ as inspiration, so look out for our new road directional signs and our promotional pieces on social media, on the dedicated page on our website, and in many local publications all of whom help us bang the drum for the event, and are great advocates for the festival and of the on-going garden restoration works here at Coombe Trenchard.

We are delighted to be supported again this year by Devon Life & Cornwall Life magazines, and you will find an article about our gardens and the event, to include a '2 for 1 Voucher' in this months edition out now.

The English Country Garden Festival is being held on Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd June, with gates open from 10am - 5pm.

Entrance fees: £6 adults, children under 14 free, dogs always very welcome.

Myself, Lorna and our trusted team of loyal supporters, family and friends are counting down the days, and look forward to welcoming everyone.

The Home & Garden Show 2016

Events Coombe TrenchardSarah MarshComment

In early June, our normally quiet and serene gardens became a hive of activity. Delightful assortments of plants and flowers were unloaded and carried down to their stalls, stretching out like delicate little rainbows across the lawns. Kettles were boiled, cakes baked and Big Pan Parties delicious creations filled the air with appetite inducing deliciousness. Highly talented local artists, food producers and green fingered folk unpacked their wares and the gates were opened: Coombe Trenchard’s Home & Garden Show 2016 was in full swing.  

Thankfully the weather was humid but dry, warranting one (or two!) trips to the Icicle Ice Cream Tricycle to cool down. Picnic blankets were unrolled and wallets unfurled as the visitors kept on coming. We welcomed over 2,000 people during the whole weekend; an amazing amount of friendly faces, happy smiles and wagging tails keen to discover new additions to their home and gardens.

Coombe Trenchard itself came to life, revelling in so many welcome guests and showcasing just how much our beautiful home has to offer. We overheard innumerable snippets of conversation enthralled with picturing wedding celebrations on the terrace and bridal gowns in the woodland. The atmosphere was happy and content; no doubt in part owing to such a delicious array of treats to savour (we had the best brownie of our lives from Column Bakehouse). Children swooned over The Ark Man’s divine hand carved animals while their mothers sampled The Lavender Lady’s natural treats. Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Visit Dartmoor educated lovely visitors on our precious part of Devon. After picking up advice from our friendly plant suppliers, legs were rested and much needed cups of tea enjoyed. 

Children’s Hospice Southwest were delighted with the funds raised from their tent on the croquet lawn, and received many pledges of support for their Silver Anniversary Tea Party Celebrations. You can find out more and get involved by following this link

As 5pm approached, visitors followed the woodland path back to their cars, laden with armfuls of new favourite things. Exhibitors dispersed (with much lighter loads than when they arrived) and we cracked open a well-earned bottle of wine.  

You can watch a slideshow of some images of our wonderful weekend below. 


A huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone that came together to put on such a glorious weekend; exhibitors, staff, guests and their canine companions! There are too many exhibitors to name, but you were all fabulous; your hard work and huge effort is much appreciated.  We’re already looking forward to our next Home & Garden Show, and hope that you can all join us once more.

If you would like to be kept in touch with details of events at Coombe Trenchard please do join our mailing list here

Sarah xx


May in the gardens

Gardens, Events Coombe TrenchardSarah MarshComment
This months blog from Ben Probert looks not only at how the gardens are bursting into life, but also the impact that garden sculpture has on the gardens. 

May is a month of contrasts; at the beginning of the month it is still decidedly spring, with frost a real risk, but by the end of the month it's all but summer and plants are growing at incredible speed. It's a busy month for gardeners as lawns and borders grow quickly, and it's easy for them to get out of hand it they're not monitored carefully. May brings warmer temperatures but usually lots of rain (certainly here in Devon!), so mowing goes from being an occasional job to being a regular part of a gardener's routine in a matter of a week!

May brings the highlight of the the horticultural year; the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show attracts interest from all over the world, with nurseries, designers and other garden companies come together for a horticultural extravaganza on the lawns of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Actually getting to Chelsea can prove quite expensive, so most people take in the sights and sounds by watching the BBC's coverage. Whether you can be at Chelsea in person or in spirit, Chelsea week is also the time to do a very important garden job; the 'Chelsea chop'! Certain plants might flower earlier than wanted, so these plants are sheared back during Chelsea week, causing them to regrow and then flower a few weeks later. Certain Geraniums, Salvias, Asters and several other plants are perfect for the Chelsea chop, and it's a great way to make sure that you get a big display in your borders from June onwards, instead of having a few plants flowering at a time.

 The borders at Coombe Trenchard are certainly very healthy, and I put this down to a combination of the use of the right plants and a liberal dose of 'Coombe Trenchard gold', the fantastic home-brewed compost made from manure, green-waste and woody material. Most gardeners know about composting but a surprising number don't do it. Reasons include lack of space, lack of time (because composting does take a degree of time and effort) and the convenience of being able to buy a bag or two of compost as and when it's needed. A garden like the one at Coombe Trenchard generates a large amount of organic matter, and this is definitely not wasted! By the time the manure and organic matter has composted properly it's turned into a wonderfully rich, nutritious and bulky material, and this home made compost is absolutely fantastic for getting plants growing at their very best

The borders and Wisteria bursting into life

The borders and Wisteria bursting into life

A nice billowy mass of fresh growth and flowers is always a delight to see, but gardens are often left lacking... something. It can be hard to put your finger on it, but all too often what's needed is a man-made element to anchor and balance the exuberant planting. Installing something like a bench, a sculpture or even a bird bath can really change a garden; you put a feature into a planted area and the feature somehow manages to make the planting seem more rich and vibrant, while the planting also frames and shows off your feature. It's a strange illusion, but somehow the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts.

The right choice of a garden feature is critical, and it's a decision that is best thought about before taking the plunge. What colour? What would look right? How tall? How wide...? Time and time again I've seen gardens where budget has been a constraint, but the garden has been filled (and sometimes I mean filled) with smaller, cheaper sculptures and statues that just don't suit the space, and I'm left wondering if the money had been saved and spent on something more appropriate.

Coombe Trenchard is currently hosting its sculpture exhibition, and I would strongly advise that gardeners take a look. Although the exhibits are most definitely works of art in their own right, displayed using the garden as a 'green gallery', their placement in the garden really shows the importance of 'right sculpture, right place'. Take, for example, this piece below...

Pelham System by Julian Wild

 This sculpture is made of rusting pipes, but this is not simply a pile of rusty old metal! The shapes, scale and colour of this piece look very industrial and unashamedly man-made, but sitting in a sea of wildflowers it looks fantastic. This sculpture would, certainly to my eyes, look rather drab in surrounded by concrete or indoors, but surrounded by the wildflowers it sits comfortably in its surroundings. Although surprisingly big it's not bulky, and is in fact the perfect size and scale for this part of the garden. A smaller piece here in the woodland would simply look small and out of place, and something big and bulky would dominate the wildflowers. It's a balancing act to get the right proportions, but it's definitely something worth the effort of getting right.

We come from Heaven, I from Hell 2012 by Robert Philips

We come from Heaven, I from Hell 2012 by Robert Philips

This example above works on a smaller scale; this tall sculpture acts as a perfect accent to the Cordyline australis behind, while low planting around its base acts to balance the height and wide of the piece itself. The sculpture and the planting both compliment each other perfectly. I don't want to spoil the fun of seeing these sculptures for yourself, so this is my final example. The Irish yews (Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata') in the yew avenue are tall and upright, and in the fairly long and narrow space between them a low and wide sculpture would have the wrong proportions. Take a small sculpture and put it on a nice tall plinth and you have a piece that sits comfortably in its surroundings.

You can combine art and comfort and go for a nice garden bench.... This bench is in Coombe Trenchard's woodland garden and is certainly not the kind of thing you see in your local garden centre or DIY store! It has to be big because it's in a big space, so a smaller bench would just get lost in this part of the garden. A high back allows this bench to be seen but also makes a sitting place into a visually striking feature. There's something very appealing about this bench; it's solid but also looks incredibly inviting. Where space and budget allow, a bench with character and substance could act as your principle seating and also as an artistic focal point.

Big Bench by Chris Amey

You can use plants themselves as sculptures; gardeners have been using plants to create topiary sculptures for centuries! You don't have to be wild and outrageous with your topiary, even something as simple as a shape made from box (Buxus sempervirens) can be the perfect sculptural element for your garden. The rule of thumb here is the same as with sculptures made of any other material; be bold! A small clipped shape in a big space will disappear as quickly as a small statue would, so plan for your masterpiece to grow to a reasonable size. You might have to plant several of one thing to get you the effect in a sensible time, and your living sculpture will need clipping and shaping regularly to keep it looking good. It's important to bear in mind that, even if you buy fairly large plants to grow and clip, creating your own topiary sculpture of any meaningful size takes time, so if you want something big and bold now you might be better finding yourself an artist...!

These shapes look great in long grass but have taken a long time to get this big!

By Ben Probert Penandtrowel.co.uk

Sculptural15 runs until June 20th, opening from Wednesday - Saturday 11am-5pm (closed June 6th for private event)