Devon Unpacked: Gardens to visit

It wasn’t planned that way but we ended up visiting a lot more of Devon’s gardens than we had on our itinerary. Two of the gardens we visited were on our quest for the perfect Devon cream tea and being plant lovers we could not pass up the opportunity to wander among the blooms. One of the gardens was a serendipitous discovery while travelling to somewhere else. Only once did we make a trip solely to visit a garden.

The more you look the more gardens you find to visit in Devon. Obviously I am limited in this post but there are several books devoted to gardens to visit. Also there is the National Garden Scheme (NGS) that produces its own “yellow book” of private gardens that are open on specific days of the year to raise money for charity. There are hundreds of gardens across the country but to make it more manageable they have produced county guides too. Alternatively head to their website or download the app and use the search facility. I have not included any NGS gardens in the following list as the are not open more than a few days each year.

Each one had something different to offer and plenty of ideas to take back and replicate in our own diminutive garden. Here then are few words and a lot of photographs of the four gardens we discovered during our week in Devon.

Docton Mill Gardens

Somewhat off the beaten track these are gardens that are well worth seeking out. Laid out in, and up, a steep sided valley these gardens provide plenty of interest. Woodland plants clothe the sides of the valley while shrubs and flowering plants border lawns and paths. All paths lead to the mill and tearooms nestled at the end of the valley. www.doctonmill.co.uk

The woodland walk at Docton Mill Gardens
The woodland walk at Docton Mill Gardens
There are plenty of streams tumbling down the valley that feed the mill and make for lunch foliage
There are plenty of streams tumbling down the valley that feed the mill and make for lunch foliage
Flower borders at Docton Mill Gardens
Flower borders at Docton Mill Gardens
Foliage beds beside the mill stream
Foliage beds beside the mill stream

Clovelly Court Gardens

As you head towards the quaint fishing village of Clovelly on the North Devon coast you come across the hidden little gem of Closely Court. The gardens are part of the Closely Estate and as such entry is included in the ticket price for the village. The walled gardens contain a pottage garden where vegetables are grown organically to supply two hotels in the village. Victorian greenhouses which you can walk through are full of tomatoes, peaches, grapes, lemons and figs. Herbaceous borders were full of dahlias when we visited; apparently the sheltered nature of the gardens brings everything on early.

The borders at Clovelly Court Gardens
The borders at Clovelly Court Gardens
Clovelly Court Gardens dahlia beds providing cut flowers
Clovelly Court Gardens dahlia beds providing cut flowers
There are plenty of dahlias in late summer at Closely Court Gardens
There are plenty of dahlias in late summer at Closely Court Gardens
Devon Gardens
Inside one of the Victorian glasshouses at Closely Court Gardens

It is slightly different to the other three gardens; there is less in the way of border displays and more a working cut flower and kitchen garden. www.clovelly.co.uk

The Garden House

Originally the residence of the Vicars of Buckland Monochorum the house and gardens are now administered by a trust. The 10 acre grounds have been turned into a series of gardens each taken their inspiration from the natural world. Around the house are the more formal borders and walled gardens with their sheltered beds. From early spring bulbs through to the colours of autumn there is always colour and something of interest. www.thegardenhouse.org.uk

Devon Gardens
One of the more formal walled gardens at the Garden House
Devon Gardens
Formal beds at the Garden House
The Garden House planting is wildlife friendly
The Garden House planting is wildlife friendly
Devon Gardens
The South African Garden
Wildflower meadow at the Garden House
Wildflower meadow at the Garden House

RHS Rosemoor

This is one of the four Royal Horticultural Society’s show gardens. Near Great Torrington it lies along the side of a valley among the gentle sloping hills of North Devon. There are formal and informal gardens, meadows and woodland gardens and fruit and vegetable gardens. The formal gardens enclose gardens on a particular theme; rose gardens, hot borders, foliage gardens to name a few. One visit is probably not enough and as it is a garden with year round interest we will be returning. www.rhs.org.uk

Devon Gardens
Panoramic shot of the hot borders at RHS Rosemoor
Devon Gardens
Hot borders in one of the formal garden “rooms”
Devon Gardens
Rose Garden, RHS Rosemoor
RHS Rosemoor
The Potager Garden at RHS Rosemoor
RHS Rosemoor
Natural planting around the lake, RHS Rosemoor
RHS Rosemoor
A quiet contemplative moment

Undoubtedly there will be gardens not featured here that are your favourites. There are certainly a lot more that I have yet to visit. If you have a favourite or would like to recommend a garden to visit then do use the comments to share your thoughts.

More to explore

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Travel Unpacked is all about travel; from luxury to adventure travel and all related topics. There are reviews of accommodation, eateries, airlines,  ferries, books and much more. You will find stories, lists, hints and tips as well as experiences you might want replicate on your travels. It’s about travel as you want it