Celebrate the beauty of Devon’s English country gardens with One Magazine’s hand-picked list of top gardens to visit in the county in 2016
Devon is well-known for many things; it’s the only county with two glorious coastlines, the only place to get an authentic traditional Devonshire clotted cream tea and of course, it’s full of strikingly beautiful countryside, both ruggedly natural and carefully crafted. With 2016 marking the Year of the English Garden, as well as the 300th anniversary of the birth of England’s most well-known gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, we’ve decided to celebrate some of the most beautiful gardens that are open to visit around the county.
Killerton Gardens, Exeter
Set in a whopping 6,400 acres of countryside estate owned by the National Trust, the gardens at Killerton House make for a worthwhile visit whatever the season. Benefitting from parkland surroundings and the 18th century house itself, Killerton’s gardens are full of colour with rhododendrons, magnolias and a variety of rare trees making it one of the most beautiful settings for a country garden in Devon. There will be special garden theatre evening performances throughout the summer at Killerton, including a hilarious adaptaion of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ on 14th July and a fast-paced production of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ on 2nd August – don’t miss it!
Knightshayes Court Garden, Tiverton
Designed by Edward Kemp, and set in the countryside near the historic market town of Tiverton, Knightshayes Court Gardens showcases 50 acres of flowering borders, finely crafted topiaries and a beautifully tranquil pond. Explore over 1,200 different plant species and marvel at the variety of colour throughout the grounds, or take a step back to Victorian times in the walled kitchen garden. Featuring fairytale turrets, this garden is truly something special. Here you can discover the huge selection of specialist produce that is grown, including 102 varieties of heritage tomatoes, and rare vegetables such as oca, mashua and achoccha. Boasting to be one of the most varied National Trust gardens in the country, Knightshayes is certainly worth the visit.
Rosemoor Garden RHS , Great Torrington
Surrounded by tall, encircling woodlands, the gardens at Rosemoor are a planter’s haven. Draw inspiration from the fruit & vegetable garden full of mouth-watering produce (which can be sampled in the on-site restaurant), the vibrant colours of the hot garden and of course Lady Anne’s original woodland garden itself. There’s also a rose garden with over 2000 – certainly a must see! Rosemoor is a great place to gain ideas for your garden at home, as well as entertaining the family during the many events hosted all year round.
Bicton Botanical Gardens, East Budleigh
At almost 300 years old, Bicton’s 50 acres of historic botanical gardens are grade 1 listed! Discover the streams and trees in the American Gardens, the exotic tree-ferns in the Fernery, find peace and tranquillity in the Hermitage Garden, and be sure to head to Bicton’s pièce de résistance, the Italian Garden, which offers the park’s most famous view. There’s also a wide variety of continental plants to investigate in the four historic glasshouses, including the 19th century Palm House made up of 18,000 panes of glass! No trip to Bicton is complete without a ride on the 1.5 mile woodland railway, allowing you to take the weight off and marvel at the grounds and gardens at a leisurely pace – great for keeping the children entertained too!
Hill House Nursery and Garden, Newton Abbot
Originally made famous in the fifties and sixties by gardener and garden writer Edward Hyams, the three acre Hill House garden went into neglect until 1981 when the garden was brought back to life by Raymond Hubbard. Pioneering biological controls means that the use of harmful toxic sprays are kept to an absolute minimum, and more natural methods of wildlife encouragement and pest control are used instead. Here you will find a number of unusual plant species, as well as the magnolia originating from Agatha Christie’s garden!
Northernhay Gardens, Exeter
Once the quarry site for the stone needed to build Exeter’s ancient city walls, Northernhay Gardens now serves as the oldest space open to the public in the whole of England, providing a place to relax away from the hustle and bustle. As well as the fine array of flowerbeds and gravel paths, there is also a collection of impressive historical monuments that live in the gardens, including The Deerstalker, created in 1875 by E. B. Stephens. The elevation also makes Northernhay Gardens a great place to take in the views across parts of the city!
Dartington Gardens, Totnes
A trip to this 1,200 acre estate will reward you with spectacular Grade II listed gardens full of intriguing plant life, historical features, beautiful sculptures and so much more! Designed by American designer Beatrix Garrand, and Percy Cane, Dartington Gardens offer all year round exploration through the steep grass terraces and courtyards. Don’t miss the 1,500 – 2,000 year old yew tree, Henry Moore’s Grade II listed memorial sculpture, or Peter Randall-Page’s brilliantly functional art bridge!
High Garden Nurseries, Kenton
One of the more recent additions Devon’s collection of gardens, here you can expect to see five acres of beautiful border flowerbeds that show off the plants available in the nursery on site. High Garden is open Tuesday – Friday and donations are welcomed
Burrow Farm Gardens, Axminster
Lose yourself in 13 acres of East Devon’s secret garden and bask in the serenity of this peaceful oasis. Ever-changing colours span across this sweeping landscape of lawns, trees and striking flowerbeds. The Woodland Garden is the oldest part of Burrow Farm, based around an ancient field maple that inspired the creation of the garden in 1963. Since then additional gardens have been created, including The Rose Garden; home to ‘The Shy Maiden’, a stone statue that stands proudly in the centre of this intimate space. Azaleas and rhododendrons adorn Azalea Glade, and ornamental grasses mix with perennials in the Anniversary Garden. Complete your trip with a visit to the tea room for a delicious Devon cream tea.
National Gardens Scheme, National
Explore and experience over 3,000 English gardens in a relaxed, homely atmosphere as homeowners open their gates to visitors as part of the National Gardens Scheme. Many of these gardens are privately owned and not normally open to the public, so this is a great opportunity to see something new! Find out what’s near you by visiting the website.
The Eden Project, St. Austell
This group of world-famous bio-domes (although yes, not actually in Devon) is a must-see for anyone. Discover thousands of exotic plants from around the world and stunning garden displays all year round, including the world’s largest indoor rainforest complete with jungles and waterfalls – this one is worth travelling for!
For more information, visit: www.visitengland.com
An old-fashioned wooden wheelbarrow full of freshly picked vegetables at Knightshayes Court, Tiverton, Devon ©National Trust Images Paul Harris
Dartington Garden – Terry Reeve
Jubilee Arboretum lake at The Garden House – VisitEngland
Powderham Castle, Exeter – VisitEngland