Garden Visit : Little Ash Bungalow, Devon NGS

Plant Paradise

It takes a lot for me to leave my cosy potting shed. I’ve created a happy little haven, with all creature comforts; kettle, toaster, comfy chair, reading corner. Cat and new puppy for company. But, I was enticed out recently to visit a garden I’ve heard a lot about, Little Ash Bungalow at Fenny Bridges, Devon. And I’m happy to say, it was well worth the journey. The garden is a delight. Rare and unusual perennials, trees and shrubs. A plant paradise. Here’s a photo ‘slide show’ of my visit. The garden is open this Sunday, 18th August from 1-5 for the National Gardens Scheme.

Francoa sonchiflolia. Known as bridal wreath. An evergreen perennial with lance-shaped basal leaves and 80cm tall spires of rich pink flowers. Not totally hardy in more exposed gardens.

Astrantia Little Ash Seedling, blue echium vulgare and pink Salvia Penny’s Smile. A lovely contrast of flower forms. This combination has a long flowering season. Astrantias have a good ‘skeleton’ structure once the flowers have gone over.

Purple Veronicastrum Fascination partnered with red Persicaria amplexicaulis and white Persicaria alpina. I’ve just discovered ‘persicum’ is Latin for peach and refers to the long peach-like leaves.

Grey-leaved Melianthus major (honey flower) creates a background to blue agapanthus, bright pink Diascia personata and mauve Verbena officianalis grandiflora Bampton.

Agapanthus thrive in the well-drained gravel beds up by the house. The evergreen agapanthus is deep blue africanus variety.

From the top terrace, looking down the right hand side of the garden, to the glorious East Devon country views beyond.

Owner Helen Brown has made the most of the views. Here she’s framed them with a series of arches covered with climbers such as ornamental vine, Vitis Purpurea and scrambling viticella clematis.

In the gravel just in front of the steps, there’s Dierama, known as angel’s fishing rods. Grass-like leaves with tall graceful flowering spikes. The flowers dangle down, hence the common name. I’ve found this difficult to grow in my wet Leicestershire clay. It’s a plant that needs a perfect balance of good fertile soil with excellent drainage. Not easy to achieve.

The view through the second arch. There’s a white clematis Paul Farges, or summer snow, on the right.

At the end of the view, there’s a granite and metal sculpture. These were originally rollers in wooden frames, pulled by horses to flatten clods in the surrounding fields. The metal parts came from more modern Cambridge rolls, pulled by tractors. In the background you can see an area of moisture-loving planting alongside a stream, with a path leading to a pond.

A focal point metal seed head sculpture in the centre of the mini-meadow.

Umbellifers in the meadow. Very attractive to bees, butterflies and hoverflies.

Looking over a low farm fence, there’s a paddock full of grasses and wild flowers such as yellow rattle and yellow Lotus corniculatus, bird’s foot trefoil.

The whole field is covered in tiny white flowers. We know this as stitchwort, a type of stellaria.

Helen leaves flowers to set seed for birds to enjoy. This is a Silybum marianum with thistle-like seeds just about to take flight. I’m glad I captured the moment, and I’m glad I made the effort to leave my potting shed to see Helen’s garden in all its glory.

Little Ash Bungalow is a 1.5 acre garden regularly open for the NGS, and also open by arrangement for groups of 10 or more on pre-arranged dates. Admission is £4 adults, children are admitted free. Cakes and refreshments usually available. Dogs on leads welcome.

Little Ash Bungalow, Fenny Bridges, Devon, EX14 3BL


Other plants I noted, if you are a keen plants person: Roscoea Royal Purple, Crinum powellii Album, umbellifera Conopodium majus, Hedychium spicatum, Buddleja weyeriana, Clethra alnifolia for perfume, Grevillea victoriae, Cuphea blepharophylla, Buddleja lindleyana, pitcher plants, rudbeckia, Catalpa erubescens Purpurea, Phlox Starfire, Crinodendron patagua, Lobelia urens, Gladiolus papilio Ruby, Miaianthemum racemosum, bamboos, pond plants, bog plants and clematis – many unusual varieties.

24 thoughts on “Garden Visit : Little Ash Bungalow, Devon NGS

  1. Karen what magnificent photos. I don’t have the head to name you flowers, but I love the garden, I love its flowers, its flower arches like the one made with vitis I don’t remember what else, I love agaphantus, and the views of the countryside. Hopefully one day we can go together to visit this wonderful garden. Karen much health and love for your family and for you. Take care and rest. No wonder you’re so comfortable in your Shed so well conditioned, if I had it the same, I wouldn’t leave it. But you have to know places as fabulous as this garden. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Margarita. It’s so good to have you back. I’ve missed your enthusiasm and joy. Sending affectionate greetings to you and your family. I’ll be spending the bank holiday weekend at home in my peaceful potting shed. From the window I can see the fields being harvested, two buzzard fledglings are in our mini wood, and the parents fly in across the fields all day, feeding them and encouraging them out. The buzzards sound just like very noisy kittens. Love from karen xxx


      • Karen I am partially back with gastritis, diarrhea and cystitis and gut pains that make me dizzy. But I’m tired of being in bed and I’ve seen your wonderful and endearing response. Thank you very much for your words of encouragement. I love that from your Shed you see the young stumps in your forest and their parents hunt food for them. I imagine sitting next to you watching them. I hope someday it can really happen. Enjoy it very much. I hope that all your family and you have very good health and love. Take care Affectionate greetings from Margarita xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh poor you. I feel so sorry for you. I feel this is the stress of everything that’s happened recently. It comes out in illness. Please rest, drink plenty of water and slowly, slowly get back on your feet. But do not rush! Sending lots of love and affectionate greetings in return. Much love. Karen xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are a great friend Karen. You are absolutely right: stress has come out in the form of illness. My sister took me to the hospital and they gave me a treatment. Thank you very much for your words of support and for your advice. Greetings and much love in exchange for Margarita xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We visited last week and were delighted to meet Helen and Brian. That “concrete and metal sculpture” is, in fact, a group of old granite rollers standing on end; rare and precious farm artifacts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jessica. Yes, Helen makes it look effortless, but we know what work goes into that look. So special. The astrantia is Little Ash Seedling, Salvia Penny’s Smile and echium vulgare. The roller sculpture is in fact granite rollers from antique farm machinery. I should have known that, as I’m from a farming family. I’ve been working away from farming for far too long. Enjoy your weekend. x


    • Thank you Constance. It’s a very special place. Helen makes it look easy, but we know how much work goes into creating a garden such as this. Worth the journey. I enjoyed every minute there, and have come home with lots of notes.


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