Nestling 1,000ft up – on the northern edge of Dartmoor, in the beautiful village of Belstone, lies the garden at Andrew’s Corner, home of Robin and Edwina Hill.
When Robin’s parents, Kathleen and Harold Hill, first opened the garden for the NGS, on Sunday May 21st 1972, they could not have dreamt that it would be opening for its 50th year in 2021. Described then as being of wide interest throughout the year with a rock garden, azaleas, heathers, and conifers, it has undergone a profound change over the decades to a much more diverse landscape with a greater emphasis on its tranquillity, wildlife, and the wildness of its surroundings.
With the involvement of Robin and Edwina’s 3 young grandchildren, it means that four generations of the Hill family have now had a hand in this garden.
Andrews Corner has all-year-round colour and interest but is probably at its best in spring, which comes a week or two later at this height. The eagerly awaited cuckoo usually arrives about mid-April, so late April and all through May is the ideal time to visit if you want to hear this evocative sound of early summer. The garden has an ever-growing collection of maples, magnolias, rhododendrons and the oh-so-pretty erythroniums (sometimes called dog’s tooth violets). As May progresses the wonderful meconopsis (blue poppies) appear. Dartmoor’s high rainfall encourages prolific growth of these spectacular plants.
The garden is a haven for wildlife, some – such as grass snakes and frogs – attracted by the large pond. The many trees provide nesting sites for birds, with over 40 species recorded in the garden. Other inhabitants, including bats and dormice, are less easy to see but indicate an environment rich in different habitats ideal for plants and animals.
The garden makes a great family visit. The only thing not guaranteed is the weather but, never fear – there’s indoor space to enjoy your refreshments and the garden still looks just as good!
Despite a difficult year in 2020, the National Garden Scheme still managed to donate £2.88 million to a range of charities. Originally started by the Queen’s Nursing Institute to raise money to support district nursing, the takings are now shared between several cancer and other caring charities.
For further information and, if Covid restrictions persist, please go to www.ngs.org.uk for the latest information about garden visiting.