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Hill House Nursery & Gardens
Hill House, originally owned by Edward Hyams, is now run by Raymond Hubbard and his son Matthew. It is quite a remakable place which almost defies description.
It has a superb selection of plants - many of them on the tender side but often suitable for growing outside here in Devon, it has atmosphere - in the words of Raymond Hubbard "We have remained first and foremost a real traditional nursery and not" and here he grimaces "a garden centre", it is owned and staffed by a rare breed of knowledgeable and informed 'characters' whom it is a delight to see on each visit, it has the additional merit of having a Tea Room (with a sitting-out area) and a fully mature garden freely open to visitors. Hill House also has a good website and offers plants by mail order.
Yet the main strength of Hill House is its selection of plants. Some are difficult (almost impossible) to find elsewhere and the flavour is exotic but not exclusively so. Raymond and Matthew choose nothing but the best. Only the aristocrats of the plant world will do. Not all of them, of course - that would be impossible; but a lot of them. If you want Rhododendron falconeri or R. sinogrande this is the place. But do not expect The RHS Plantfinder to point you in the direction of Hill House for these, or many other gems. A visit to the nusery will reveal all: Heliconia schiedeana, a selection of Cestrum, Iochroma, Salvia, Datura and Passiflora. And all at prices which are 'very competitive' - which means inexpensive. Like good wine, the plants are to be savoured. Try their Weigela coraeensis, for example (Hill House is listed for this one).
At Hill House they aim to propagate on site most plants of the plants they sell. Deciding on the selection is easy according to Raymond: his main concern to to grow the plants he himself likes, enjoys having around and considers to be worthwhile. This explains the backbone of the concept behind the nursery: first class quality, a distinguished selection, keen prices. Be warned however, some plants which are not propagated at Hill House can be bought more cheaply elsewhere.
Hill House definitely belongs to my top ten list of nurseries. A significant number of plants in my garden at Southern Comfort originate from Hill House; without them the garden would be much poorer. For those not actively seeking to buy plants it is excellent for a midday snack, a wander around the garden and a nose around the sales area. Give yourself plenty of time.
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