History of the Gardens

Margery FishMargery Fish’s Garden at East Lambrook Manor
“One of the most important influences on gardening in the 20th century…” John Sales

The garden at East Lambrook Manor is recognised throughout the world as the ‘Home of English Cottage Gardening’, having been created in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s by the late gardening icon, Margery Fish. Mrs Fish entered the world of gardening late in her life and as a novice she showed a quite brilliant talent for artlessly mixing the everyday plants with the rarer species, with an eye for colour, texture and form.

Her informal style of planting was unique and her work as an outstanding plantswoman and gardening writer has made her one of the most important influences on gardening in the 20th century. Indeed, today’s mixed borders are a direct descendant of the style Margery Fish created here at East Lambrook Manor.

Mrs Fish’s relatives lovingly cared for the gardens after her death in 1969 and in 1985 the gardens passed out of the family to Mr & Mrs Norton.

The Norton’s launched a major project to catalogue and re-find many of plants Mrs Fish had originally discovered and cultivated in the gardens and did much restoration work which the Williams family, who bought the property in 1999, continued.

In 2008 the Williams’ sold East Lambrook Manor to Gail & Mike Werkmeister who have kept the garden open to the public and maintained the restoration work of previous owners whilst enhancing and improving the garden wherever possible.

Although now more mature, the garden is still essentially as Mrs Fish originally created it. It was given Grade 1 staus by English Heritage in 1992.

Today, in the new millennium, visitors can continue to enjoy the gardens while also visiting the famous ‘Margery Fish Plant Nursery’, which remains a place of pilgrimage for keen plant buyers. A specially designed display bed in the nursery showcases the extensive collection of hardy geraniums in summer and snowdrops in February.

In the centre of the gardens, the 17th century Malthouse houses a cafe serving tea, coffee, our own apple juice and a selection of excellent locally made cakes.

The Malthouse is home to the Malthouse Gallery. Exhibitions of paintings, usually by local West Country artists, take place at peak times of the year and paintings and cards can be purchased.

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