Great Comp Garden is the creation of the late Roderick and Joyce Cameron (formerly Joyce Trafford Riggall), after they moved to the 17th Century Manor in 1957,(which has been Grade II* listed since 1952) with the idea of developing the garden into a plantsman’s delight. The house was once a farmhouse, the stables has been converted into the Old Dairy Tearooms.
They originally started with 4.5 acres but in 1962 and 1975, they added more land to the garden.
They created an Italian Garden, explorable ‘ruins’ and ‘temple’ (all hand built by Roderick), using sand and stone from the garden.The ruins and statuary (including Pope’s Urn and Longleat Urn), add interesting focal points to the densely planted garden.
The garden has very good displays of Magnolias (they have over 30 varieties of this shrub),Azaleas, Salvias, Crocosmias, Dahlias and other exotic plants in the region. They have planted up to 380 shrubs and trees in the garden.
The garden first opened up to the public in 1968. It had an entrance fee of 10p and had around 200 visitors on the opening days.The garden then opened for the National Garden Scheme (which it still opens on certain days for).
In 1980, Roderick was elected to the RHS Council. Which he greatly enjoyed, despite the numerous disagreements with various RHS members. The storms of 1987 and 1990 caused major damage to the garden. But Roderick and Joyce turned this tragedy into a positive by planting more plants.
When his wife died in 1992, Roderick set up the ‘Great Comp Charitiable Trust’ to keep the garden open and running. He stayed in the house until he was 90 and then moved to a local residential home but died after a short illness.
After Roderick died, the trust sold several items from inside the house including a George III sycamore tea caddy and ivory and horn-veneered miniature chess table.
William Dyson then took over management of the gardens in 2000, as a curator. He previously had managed a Salvia Nursery within the garden, for twenty years. As well as exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show