For over 50 years both Don and Kathy Longhurst have been gardening and have tackled many challenges and gardens through moving to different homes and growing not only beautiful plants but their also their knowledge. Don and Kathy belong to the local gardening club and have done wherever they have lived. Married for 47 years, both enjoy seeing the garden evolve and are always looking for ideas and plants that will enhance the garden and its appearance so that they can give visitors who pay to either stay in their lovely holiday cottage or visit through the NGS garden scheme a memorable visit. They still get excited about growing their own seeds especially if they are a challenge, and taking cuttings.

The Longhursts have lived at Honeyhurst Farm for the past 18 years, but long before they took over, it was created in the late Victorian era from a small farm cottage. Much of the hard landscaping and outbuildings were created at that time including the barn, stable, a substantial wall to the part walled garden and the containment of Stoke Brook which acts as a ha-ha to the part-walled garden. The level garden area extends to about 2/3 acre and this is bounded by a small paddock with fruit and nut trees, greenhouses and a vegetable plot created within the last 12 years. Adjacent is an established 4 acre traditional cider orchard of 40 varieties divided in two by a hedge and the insignificant Draycott Brook.

The stone built containment of the brook is impressive and there are several established trees on the property which contribute to its setting. These include a 150 year old yew and a holly of similar age, three large copper beech trees, three other hollies, a pollarded grey poplar, A Morbihan Plum, a Pauwlonia and a Magnolia. More recent introductions include two additional Magnolias, a Mulberry and Liquidamber. There is also some art in the garden which creates a feeling of peace and tranquility for visitors, as well as intrigue.

donThe sounds you’ll experience when walking round this beautiful garden are those of the buzzing bees hard at work and their two pet micro pigs Raquel and Cassandra (the Trotter girls). You’ll smell the dizzying fragrance of  the plants or the freshly mown grass, and you’ll touch some of their garden ornaments, such as Sam the mower man who is a full size wire sculpture of a man pushing an old fashioned mower, made by a local artist.

There are several clematis varieties and several peonies including tree peonies. Both Don and Kathy like acers and hydrangeas in particular and a Spanish broom provides an abundance of perfume along with lilies, honeysuckle and some climbing roses. There must be around 200 varieties of plants and flowers, and a short list can be found below.

DSC_0067Due to all this beautiful flora, the garden attracts much wildlife including frogs, toads, weasels, voles, many garden birds and some less common such as fieldfare and redwing for the apples in winter, sparrow hawk, little egret, little owl, badgers, foxes, kingfisher grass snakes and kestrels. Many of the plants encourage wildlife but the major source is the orchard and the brook. The neighbor’s cat discourages the rabbits however and garden pests are mostly caught manually. They spray a slug deterrent early in the season, particularly on the hostas and  treat the 100 or so pots with vine weevil killer as necessary.

But what does their year look like? With all this growth and variety, there is a lot to do. Kathy and Don are both pensioners and so have a little more time these days but the garden is getting bigger and more demanding. They do more propagation nowadays from seed and cuttings. The resultant plants are for the garden and for sale at NGS open days. Gardening is best tackled little and often they say and you need to keep an eye on your plants or things can get out of hand and then it is a lot of work. A well stocked garden is always easier to manage.

Orchard-Blossom-&-sheep-002In the autumn, hedges and cutting back is the hardest work as well as removing old perennial growth. They also dry off dahlia tubers and begonias in the autumn and store them in a frost free place, wrapping them in newspaper and storing in a polystyrene box with a loose fitting lid when completely dry. In January they start ordering their seeds from HPS with great excitement and start sowing in Feb/March. By March/April they get started on the Begonias and Dahlias, which sometimes get started earlier depending on weather. April/May sees the happy couple pricking out and potting on, while May/June sees hanging baskets started plus all the fragile summer plants potted up for the rear garden. Come June/July, maintaining the garden as it grows along with mowing and of course the all-important deadheading becomes the main focus, and in Aug/Sept it is much as before but some plants in Sept have seen their best and need cutting back. They then start saving seeds to donate to HPS and in Sept/Oct they start to bring in some of the fragile plants as the evening temp starts to fall. By Oct/Nov they are now into Apple Picking season and the garden is into Chrysanthemums and Asters. The Acers are also giving autumn colour. Nov/Dec starts the cutting back of all the perennials, mulching some and a general tidy up.

On NGS open days we use our field for parking and visitors then walk through the orchard to the garden. Disabled visitors park in the drive. On private group viewings we can normally fit all of the cars in the drive. Entry is £3.50 and refreshments are additional.

How to get children involved in gardening…
Start with mustard and cress and beans in a jar. We used to place a bean in a jar wedged at the side with a cylinder of blotting paper which was kept damp. You can then see how the shoots and roots grow. Young children need to see progress to maintain their interest. Sow some radish or turnip in the garden or in a pot. They mature quickly. Go to the local allotment and ask for advice. Gardeners are usually helpful. We give our grandchildren a wheelbarrow each and allow them to pot them up. They usually have a great display.

Top Tips
  • Diluted Jeyes fluid is good for killing moss on drives and patios.
  • Keep clematis roots in the shade.
  • Remove side shoots from tomato plants.
  • Full borders minimize the opportunity for weeds to grow.
  • Dead heading to promote further flowering.
  • Feeding shrubs and plants at the appropriate time.
  • It is always good to try and develop your own compost so set aside an area just for that purpose.


Abelia, Acanthus, Actea, Alstromria, Amsonia, Asclepias,Asphodelus, Baptisia, Billardiera, Callistemen, Camassia, numerous Campanulas, Canna, Chelone, Campsis, Calycanthus, Clethra. Cornus, Kousa. Daphne, Deutzia, Dictamnus, Dodechatheon, Doronicum, Dracunculus, Echinacea, Enkianthus, Epimedium, Erodium, Eucomis, Eupatorium, Fatsia, Francoa, Fritillaria, Fuschia, Gallardia, Galega, Garrya, Genista, Geum Halesia, Hebe, Hedychium, Helianthus, Hemerocallis, Hibiscuss, Holboellia, Hydrangea. Iberis, Incarvilliea, Inula, Irises, Jasmin, Kalmia, Knautia, Kniphofia, Lathyrus, Lavandula, Liatris, Leycesteria, Libertia, Lysimachia, Mahonia, Malva, Meconopsis, Melianthus, Morina, Nepeta, Nandina, Oenothera, Osmanthus, Oxalis, Paeneas, Papaver, Phlomis, Phlox, Platycodon, Podophlyllum, Phytolacca, Ribes, Rudbekia Roses, Salvia, Saponaria, Scabiosa, Silene, Silphium, Sollya, Symphytum, Sophora