Ashcombe Gardens & White Rock Cottage

Survey work in 2001 revealed the existence of a forgotten garden at Ashcombe, Simonsbath. Laid out by the Knight family in the 1820s, the gardens were part of a Picturesque designed landscape, that includes White Rock Cottage, the old School-house and Gardener's store. Sadly, never fully realised the gardens were gradually lost. The Simonsbath project has been set-up to investigate and sympathetically renovate the gardens and landscape, working with the local community and volunteers to bring this important part of Exmoor's heritage back to life.

Ashcombe is a remote, sheltered, wooded valley high on Exmoor at Simonsbath with a rushing moorland stream running through it. It lay within a vast area of moorland for 1000s of years and then in 1820 it became the subject of a vision to create a wild garden close to a Georgian mansion that was being built at the same time - this is now an incredible opportunity to reawaken the original garden vision of a wild valley with rocky outcrops, waterfalls, native trees in diversity and exotic species that were available in 1820.

CareMoor funds supported restoration of the of the Gardeners Store and supported volunteers to plant around 200 native trees including hornbeam, hawthorn, yew, juniper and box, as well as some exotic species. We also sourced some wonderful water loving plants from Venn Nurseries and planted 300 greater tussock sedge and 50 flag iris.

Since then volunteers have helped clean up a large stretch of the leat and managed vegetation along the stream to recreate vistas and viewpoints, meeting regularly throughout the year to help with the ongoing maintenance programme.

Native flag irises have been added to the array of wildflowers in the marsh beside the picnic area, whilst the addition of Tussock Sedge to the marsh at the upper end of Ashcombe has helped heal ground disturbed by the felling of the Sitka Spruce plantation. In the White Rock Cottage Garden flowerbeds have been brought to life with a wide range of perennials kindly donated by a local resident.

Donations from CareMoor have been key to supporting this restoration with the purchase of plants, and essential tools for the volunteers.

Members of the public are invited to visit the gardens at any time – it’s free and the gardens are adjacent to a National Park Authority car park.