Explore The Wonderful Gardens Of North DevonPosted on: 24 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
Every kind of garden thrives in North Devon, from lawns, topiary and sculpture to seaside plots, vegetable patches and herbaceous borders.
North Devon's gentle climate and natural diversity provide the perfect setting for some of the finest gardens in the country.
Stretching from the edges of Exmoor to hidden coastal valleys, they encompass a variety of styles from the formal to the natural with glorious old designs passed down through generations. There are also contemporary collector's gardens with rare specimen plants and those of national importance such as RHS Rosemoor.
Nine of North Devon's best gardens are featured in a new guide, namely Broomhill, Castle Hill, Clovelly Court Garden, Docton Mill, Hartland Abbey, Heddon Hall, Marwood Hill, RHS Rosemoor and Winsford Walled Garden.
The ten-acre Broomhill Sculpture Garden at Muddiford is home to around 300 works of art by some 60 sculptors. Winding paths lead to sculptures set in woodland gardens and around the trout lake creating a wonderful balance between art and nature.
The sculpture park surrounds the Broomhill Art Hotel, both now owned by Rinus and Aniet Van de Sande from Holland, who serve award winning Mediterranean cuisine.
Castle Hill, a magnificent Palladian house at Filleigh and home to the Fortescue family since 1454, is set in an 18th century landscape with grass terraces and statues.
To the east of the house is the Millennium garden designed by Xa Tollemache, a Chelsea Gold Medallist while an illuminated 'topiary' water sculpture was built by Giles Rayner in 2002.
Other features include large herbaceous borders, formal terraced lawns, woodland gardens and a network of paths punctuated with follies and temples.
Clovelly Court Garden
Currently being renovated, Clovelly Court is a classic example of the Victorian kitchen garden tradition. The magnificent, original lean-to greenhouses are now swathed with delectable fruit and vegetables while new espalier fan and cordon fruit trees line the old walls enclosing the garden.
Close to the sea at Clovelly, the garden's unique marine microclimate will enable a display of tender and exotic flower borders planned for the future to grow unprotected most of the year.
Gold medal award winning Docton Mill Gardens near Hartland offer spectacular displays of narcissi, bluebells and wild garlic in spring.
It was extensively replanted in the 1980s with a new bog garden followed by large herbaceous borders and woodland and magnolia gardens in the new Millennium.
The gardens around Hartland Abbey were looked after by the Augustinian Canons for nearly four hundred years. Woodland gardens created in the 18th century are known for their colourful spring camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons followed by hydrangeas in summer. Designed by Gertrude Jekyll, the winding paths in the bog garden were hidden by undergrowth until the late 1990s.
A beautiful woodland walk leads to a wild Atlantic cove and cottage, which was the film location for 'Barton Cottage' in a new adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility broadcast by the BBC on New Year's Day 2008.
Wandering peacocks, black sheep and donkeys delight visitors while light lunches and delicious cream teas are served in the Abbey on house open days.
Now in its fourth year of opening, Heddon Hall is an old-fashioned flower garden that has developed a reputation as a feast of delights for both expert and amateur gardeners. It has a wonderful collection of exotic species, shrubs and ferns, a walled garden laid out by Penelope Hobhouse and a glorious informal rockery and bog garden.
This year the focus is on attractive vegetables in the walled garden alongside the mature beds planned by Carol Klein fifteen years ago when the garden began opening for the National Garden Scheme. Cream teas also on offer to visitors.
Marwood Hill Gardens reflect its creator's 50-year passion for collecting an enormous number of trees and shrubs from around the world, many very rare. These have now matured and every season sees an exuberance of flowers with large displays of camellias and magnolias.
The eighteen-acre garden has three lakes populated by ducks and carp linked by the largest bog garden in the West Country. There's also a walled garden, tearoom and plant centre.
Famous for its roses, RHS Rosemoor (Royal Horticultural Society), near Great Torrington is acclaimed as one of the most exciting horticultural accomplishments of recent years.
Now a garden of national importance it features both formal and informal settings with a wealth of ideas to inspire visitors for every season. Always popular are the Cottage and Herb Gardens and the Potager, which demonstrates decorative vegetable planting, while three model gardens show design solutions for the average domestic plot.
Winsford Walled Garden
Finally there is Winsford Walled Garden at Halwill Junction where the original Victorian garden was left to deteriorate for almost 80 years before the current owners set to work in 1999. Their achievements have been remarkable - the Victorian teak greenhouses have been restored and the summer garden now contains a huge number of varieties with colour at every turn.
Visitors can 'take a walk on the wild side' through the bamboo grove with 40ft high stems and an enormous gunnera growing in the centre while gentians, lewisias and other small perennials, that would otherwise be lost in the luxurious borders, are revealed at waist-level in the 60ft Alpine House.
A year-by-year photographic exhibition reveals and explains the incredible transformation.
Gardens Of North Devon Guide
The Gardens Of North Devon leaflet is introduced by renowned garden writer and BBC Gardeners' World presenter, Carol Klein, who lives locally and has her own thriving plant nursery, Glebe Cottage Plants. Carol loves exploring other people's gardens and hopes visitors will be also be inspired to return home bearing new plants and fresh ideas for their own garden.
Designed as an introduction for the keen gardener, as well as those who simply wish to wander and admire the gardens peace and beauty, the leaflet includes opening times, admission charges, directions and details of facilities at each garden.
Free copies are available from Tourist Information Centres throughout the region, by calling 01271 323030, or visiting www.northdevon.com.
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