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BARNSDALE GARDENS: If you are old enough to have watched Gardeners World on TV in the 1980s/90s presented by the late Geoff Hamilton then you will be familiar with Barnsdale Gardens. Today Geoff’s son Nick Hamilton runs Barnsdale as a visitor attraction, garden and plant nursery, with more than 30 different garden ‘rooms’ to see, many of which were designed and planted for TV.

Barnsdale Gardens

Barnsdale Gardens

CLIPSHAM YEW AVENUE: The topiaried yew trees once lined the carriage drive to Clipsham Hall (private house) for a full 500 metres. There were 150 yews and the topiary is said to date back to 1870 under the care of Clipsham’s head forester Amos Alexander. The topiary takes the form of elaborate ‘finials’ to the tops of the bottle-shaped yews, with fun designs that include birds and animals.

The land is private, still part of the Clipsham Hall estate (as I understand it), but the site is managed by the Forestry Commission and public access is permitted from the east end, where there is a small car park.

Clipsham Yew Avenue

Clipsham Yew Avenue

When I first saw the trees, in 2012, some of them looked very sorry for themselves, and locals had expressed concern. The Forestry Commission declared that voles had damaged the trees; something that they were unable to prevent, but I am glad to say that many of the trees are regenerating, and these pictures were taken on a crisp and sunny morning in February 2016.

2016 update: a charity has been set up to protect the yews: the Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue Trust. The Trust wants to restore the topiary to its former glory and ensure the trees are maintained properly in the future. They are currently in talks with the Forestry Commission about this, and I hope there will be more news in 2017.

Clipsham Yew

Clipsham Yew

 
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