Autumn Charity Garden Fair

Autumn Charity Garden Fair brought in the crowds

Crowds of green-fingered gardeners made the recent charity Garden Fair at Mapperton House the most successful autumn fair yet.

Almost 1,000 plant fans attended the Fair on 18 September and a share of the proceeds will go to Oxfam.

More than 25 specialist nurseries took part alongside craft, garden gift and food stands.

Lady Sandwich said: “ We were delighted that so many people took advantage of a perfect day and came to the Fair, which was our most successful autumn sale so far.

“Over the years many charities, both local and national, have benefited from the spring and autumn fairs.

“People who came to the Fair stayed on to take a walk around the gardens gardens or joined a guided tour of the house and enjoyed refreshments in the Sawmill Café. We are very much looking forward to the next plant fair in April.”

Don’t forget that Mapperton House and Gardens are open to the public until the end of October. We look forward to seeing you.

Charity Plant Fair Mapperton

Mapperton hosts a treat for gardeners

Keen gardeners are in for a treat when they get the chance to visit Dorset’s largest charity specialist Plant Fair and spend a day discovering beautiful Mapperton House and Gardens.

This is the 17th year that Mapperton, near Beaminster, has hosted the Fair, being held this year on Sunday 10 April. The Earl and Countess of Sandwich have picked the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance as the charity to benefit in 2016.

Special ticket price

Entry to the Plant Fair alone is £3. There is a special ticket price on the day of the fair of £6 for entry to Mapperton gardens, or £9 for the guided house tour and gardens; under 16s free.

More than 30 nurseries and garden-related stands will be displaying plants of all kinds as well as honey, cider, willowcraft, gifts, cards and garden ironware.

The Fair is open from 10am to 4pm and The Sawmill Café will be open for tea, coffee, home-baked cakes and light lunches.

The autumn plant fair at Mapperton will be held on Sunday 18 September.

More information at

The Pocket Handkerchief tree is dropping its hankies

The Pocket Handkerchief tree is dropping its hankies, like Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggywinkle, at the top of the Wild Garden. This tree, davidia involucrata, is named after the famous Père David. Father Armand David (1826–1900, “Père David”), a French Vincentian missionary and keen naturalist living in China, found it first at 6,500 feet and sent dried specimens to Paris in 1869. Later Ernest Wilson (“Chinese Wilson”) found it again, brought it back and so we have it in our gardens.

It’s called involucrata because it has off-white bracts that fall and look like old-fashioned hankies. These hankies are not petals or sepals but bracts, the difference being bracts protect the flower and curl up round it. The best bract example is those red pointsettias at Christmas whose “petals” are bracts.

Many of the trees and shrubs we have in our gardens are named, like davidia involucrata, after the courageous and intrepid 18th and 19th century plant collectors. For instance we have magnolia wilsonii, rosa “William Lobb”, magnolia delavayi, paeonia delavayi and many, many others.

Looking at the lives of these great contributors to our 21st century gardens I see they mostly died in terrible conditions. Here are a few examples: Francis Masson (1741 – 1805) froze to death; Meriwether Lewis (1774 – 1809) died of malaria, syphilis, gun shot and suicide; Thomas Coulter (1793 – 1843) – ‘His health suffered severely in his travels’; David Douglas (1799 – 1834) – rheumatic fever, blindness, gored to death; John Charles Frémont (1813 – 1890) – frostbite, fevers, dehydration, diarrhoea; Pere David (1826 -1900) – malaria, typhus, pneumonia, poisoning, near drowning; Jean Marie Delavay (1838 – 1895) – bubonic plague; Ernest Wilson (1876 – 1930) – crush injuries after a motor accident.

Let us celebrate these great plant collectors and be grateful for their contributions to our gardens!