DEVON’S BEST GARDENS
Gardens in abbeys, castles and Elizabethan mansions - Devon has some of the UK’s best gardens. Take your pick from our favourites.
Set within wonderful woodlands, RHS Rosemoor is a highly ornamental garden with shrubs, roses, perennials and bulbs. Originally created by Lady Anne Berry, the gardens still have original features including the woodland garden and woodland banks, as well as a huge variety of ornamental woodland trees and shrubs including Collingwood Ingram cherry introductions. There is also the beautiful Queen Mother Rose Garden containing a marvellous collection of hybrid tea and floribunda roses, and a maze of pathways which gradually leads to the side of the valley with views overlooking Rosemoor House.
Stone Lane Garden and Sculpture Exhibition
Stone Lane Garden is an enchanting five acre woodland and water garden on the edge of Dartmoor. Famous for a national collection of birch and alder trees, the garden also features many pools and streams, and is home to a collection of garden sculptures which remain from the 2014 Mythic Garden Sculpture Exhibition which marked the garden’s 22nd year. With something to be found in every corner of the garden, Stone Lane is open all year round and is equally magical and unique in both summer and winter.
Powderham Castle’s gardens (pictured) are on a south-facing slope with a glasshouse built by the architect Charles Fowler, which now provides a wet weather shelter for visitors and is used by the estate to supply plants to the Plant Centre at Powderham Country Store just within the castle gates. Originally the Victorian walled garden, it’s now home to the many friendly Powderham pets and an adventure play and picnic area, making this a great garden for the whole family.
These Elizabethan Gardens sit in a 16th Century Street in Plymouth’s Historic Barbican where wealthy merchants once built their houses. Providing an oasis of tranquillity amidst a sea of shoppers and tourist activity the garden features very low box hedges containing beds of colourful flowers and fragrant herbs in the traditional, old Elizabethan manner. Visitors to the gardens will walk the cobbled paths and areas of old slate before relaxing on stone seats beside the cooling garden fountain – the perfect way to reflect and embark on a journey back in time to Elizabethan Plymouth.
Torre Abbey Gardens
The Torre Abbey Gardens feature a range of marvellous plants, trees and church ruins, and include a novel display inspired by the works of local writer Agatha Christie. The Abbey has dug deep into the murky world of poisons, antidotes and remedies from Christie’s novels to create a garden featuring a variety of plants that have been known to cure or kill (depending on one’s motives). Of course, the garden is not really dangerous and has been designed to provide entertainment with less potent garden cultivars planted but creating an interesting take on a traditional garden. The garden also features one of the Westcountry’s finest Dahlia collections and there is a new medieval children garden which focuses on the senses with turf seats, willow tunnels and sensory planting.
Dartington Hall Grade II Listed Gardens
At the heart of a 1200 acre estate sits the Dartington Hall grade II listed gardens. Seasonal garden highlights include tree magnolias, camellias, cherry blossom and snake’s head fritillaries in the woodland walks in Spring. From late May to early June the wildflower meadows’ wild orchids, bluebells and primroses burst into colour, then in summer the sunny border is the star, with plants and flowers in blue, yellow, white and green. During autumn the leaf colour is at its most spectacular, in the maples of High Meadow and Valley Field, and in winter the witch hazels near Flora bloom. The gardens also feature a 1500 year old yew tree and a famous sculpture by Henry Moore.
Northernhay Gardens in the heart of Exeter city centre are of outstanding historic significance. Incorporating a good stretch of Roman wall and the only length of Saxon town wall to be seen in England, this is the oldest public open space in England, being originally laid out in 1612 as a pleasure walk for Exeter residents. The garden is home to a number of mature trees and hosts some of the city’s most impressive seasonal horticultural displays, including the 59 varieties within the Cornus collection, and wildlife including peregrines and sparrowhawks have recently been spotted making the gardens their home. Neighbouring Rougemont Gardens also incorporate some major historic features – the Roman city wall and bank, the gatehouse, bank and ditches of William the Conqueror’s Castle.
The beautiful walled gardens of Tiverton Castle feature rare and interesting plants, colourful spring bulb borders, a pergola planted with rapid growing and scented climbing plants, a well-stocked kitchen garden, apple orchard and woodland garden, all situated in the romantic grounds of the atmospheric Tiverton Castle, originally built in 1106. The gardens cover some three acres and include pathways leading towards the River Exe.
The Garden House
Set in the ruins of a 16th century vicarage, the Acer glade at The Garden House is one of the best spots in the UK to see Autumn colour.
Every spring, Devon locals open their private gardens to the public. Visit NGS for more information.