North Devon: Gardens

Of course it wouldn’t be a holiday for me without visiting a garden or two. And North Devon has several, including one in Clovelly itself – Clovelly Court Gardens (entrance  is included in the price to the village). Unfortunately the gardens closed at 4 p.m. so we were too late this time as we were still in the village. We did drive over to Marwood Hill Garden just north of Barnstaple where you will find beautiful gardens and lakes and a wonderful café which serves great cakes – we had a clotted cream tea with ginger scones! This is a garden which is beautiful in springtime – all the blossoms and bulbs and new leaf growth and you can easily spend a few hours here. The view from the tea-room across the valley is spectacular and it is famous for its collection of camellias. It is a fabulous garden in which to relax and enjoy the variety of unusual plants as well as the more familiar.

Head south to the RHS Rosemoor Garden near Great Torrington which is a magnificent garden with formal and informal areas, woodland walks, water features and open spaces. There is a fully licensed restaurant near the entrance to the garden, but my favourite is the Wisteria Tea-Room in Lady Anne’s Garden where you can indulge in a cream tea, cakes, hot and cold drinks and ice-cream. You can also stay here in one of the three apartments within the former home of Lady Anne Palmer offering unique access to the garden outside of opening hours if you are an RHS member. This would have been my first choice, but the dates we wanted had already been booked.

And finally do not forget to visit Hartland Abbey in the centre of the peninsula where you will find not only a beautiful house to look around (we didn’t as it was closed), but lovely woodland walks, a secret walled garden, and a bluebell wood along the path down to Blackpool Mill Cove. Built in the 12th century as a monastery it survived the dissolution by Henry VIII gifting it to his Keeper of the Wine Cellar. Today it is still the family home of Sir Hugh Stucley. Gertrude Jekyll (my favourite garden designer) was instrumental in creating the small meandering paths and terraces of the Bog garden, the Fernery and the Camellia garden which lie either side of the abbey. The “Ladies Walk” leads through woodland carpeted with wildflowers in spring to the four 18th century secret walled gardens. In spring the grounds are full of camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias and bulbs. The paths in the “Baronet’s Bog Garden” lead through plantings of camellias, Cornish Red rhododendrons, massive gunnera, hostas, primulas, astilbe, zantedeschia (arum lilies), hydrangeas and the Victorian Fernery.

On the way to Blackpool Mill Cove you can walk through the bluebell wood along a restored 19th century path to the Gazebo where you have stunning views of the Atlantic. Bluebells, primroses and foxgloves can be seen in the springtime.


Published by


I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

29 thoughts on “North Devon: Gardens”

  1. Lovely gardens and some great shots too Jude. But I couldn’t get my mind off of the clotted cream teas! I could eat one now, just thinking about how delicious they are. Yum!
    New theme too? Looks nice.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

    1. Cheers Pete. Yup, those clotted cream teas are SO tempting! Updated the theme to 2013 as I wanted a change and I like this one – it seems nice and clean 🙂

        1. Mmm… I shall have a look. Trying to consolidate things at the moment, working out which theme to use takes a lot of time! Should have planned this blogging format better – story of my life 😉

  2. Lovely pictures for us to enjoy on a grey afternoon in Surrey. I’ always amazed at how Aliums and Agapanthus grow so prolifically in the West Country – I can’t get them going here at all!

    1. Sorry it is grey your way Jenny, we’ve had a lovely blue sky today in the Borders! Have you tried growing them in pots? I have successfully grown agapanthus here and it is colder than Surrey. They like being pot bound so don’t be tempted to use too big a pot.

  3. Jude, you are giving me so many wonderful ideas for places to visit next year, and right on our doorstep too! Seems like an age ago when we were enjoying days like these as so beautifully showcased by your photos. Really, lovely, thank you 🙂

    1. You are welcome Sherri. There are some gorgeous places in that part of the country, you are lucky to live so close by. I might write about Somerset too shortly!

    1. It is a lovely area Sue. High cliffs, but spectacular scenery. I can’t believe I’d never been to the Hartland Peninsula before as it has so much to offer.

  4. Gorgeous, gorgeous pics – what an explosion of colour and boy do I love that Abbey. Quite fancy that as my holiday home in my next life 🙂 As for those black sheep I’ll happily adopt them all. Looks like you had a feast for the eyes and soul there Jude.

    1. It is a surprising place. Those walled gardens are a few hundred metres from the house and being restored. The walk to the sea is lovely too. I’m so glad we managed to go there.

    1. Legally they have no right to charge an entrance fee (the village is privately owned) but access is via a visitor centre and the charge includes parking. You can enter the village by other entrances and via a gate which is unlocked outside visiting hours. The other entrances are however accessed via the south west path which is quite difficult around this stretch of coast. Good question though Steve!

  5. Reblogged this on Earth laughs in flowers… and commented:

    This week I am going to reblog a post I wrote on my other blog Travel Words, about three lovely gardens in North Devon. Hartland Abbey, Marwood Hill and another RHS garden near Torrington called Rosemoor. All three are beautiful. Photos from late April.

  6. Three of my favourite gardens, especially Dr Smart’s, I think he’s passed now but I’ve been going there since he was living. You do get around don’t you? awesome 🙂

    1. Thanks Gilly. Visiting gardens keeps me sane whilst I don’t have one of my own. When I did have a garden I never visited any public ones! I try to find a couple wherever I go – I find them quite therapeutic unless too busy.

Likes are nice, but comments start a conversation...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.