Walking through the gardens of Devon can make you feel like you’re Alice in Wonderland, colours bursting and flowers blooming at every turn. Some of the greatest places to visit in Devon are filled with flora and fauna, and visitors bring back with them vivid memories of their days out in Devon, strolling through the roses in a peaceful, serene environment. Here are our top picks for gardens to visit in Devon this spring, summer and autumn.
Award winning Bicclescombe Park is one of Ilfracombe’s premier parks and situated in a valley bottom running north south, approximately one mile south of the town centre. It’s location provides a sheltered and often sunny environment, with beautiful walks, a boating lake, duck pond and watermill. The Wilderbrook stream runs through park before splitting into three streams which feed the Mill Leat, Boat Lake and Duck Pond. Bicclescombe Park is home to a stunning display of flowers, shrubberies, and evergreens. Visitors to the park can enjoy the quiet walks, tennis courts, children’s play area and a sensory garden.
Bicton Park Garden
A large glass dome greets you on your approach to Bicton Park Garden, sunlight filtering through it and warming the humble plants that grow inside of it. This structure is known as the Palm House. It was built in the 1820s and houses an array of plants. Some are small and delicate, easy on the eyes, while others are full-sized trees. There’s also a pinetum and arboretum for anyone who loves trees. The outlying flowers on the garden’s borders include favourites such as azaleas and rhododendrons.
Buckland Abbey & Gardens
A day out in Devon’s Buckland Abbey & Gardens is never wasted. Despite its small size, this charming stop will have you busy for hours as you waltz (or walk, if you prefer) through the rows of the abbey’s medieval garden and sample the mead made from the flowers there. The English countryside can be viewed to full advantage here, but many visitors will get caught up wandering the abbey, which was once home to Sir Francis Drake.
Greenway House & Gardens
Many of the famous settings of Agatha Christie’s novels were inspired by her childhood home at Greenway House. The grounds are home to a year-round garden and woodlands that surround the estate on all sides close to the banks of the Dart Estuary. The woodland setting is both fascinating and whimsical, and autumn brings with it a beautiful red hue to the trees’ leaves that attest to Agatha Christie’s own words that the estate was “a dream house” set amongst sprawling nature.
Heddon Hall Garden
Heddon Hall isn’t your typical estate garden. The variety of species you’ll find curated here comes from a series of trips abroad by Jane Keatley, a herbalist who made Heddon Hall’s garden into a menagerie of exotic flowers, fruits and vegetables. These cross-country plants also include herbs and the rather peculiar pleached lime trees around the gardens. When you’re done looking over the wall garden, you can head over to the bog garden and stew ponds for a quiet moment by the water.
Get swept back to Victorian times, when a day spent in the garden on a large estate was a privilege very few commoners were allowed. Many family estates of the gentry and nobles included impressive gardens and broad fields, and Lukesland Gardens is no exception. This past time treasure is hidden away in the deep Addicombe Brook Valley. The view on the riverfront is nothing short of gorgeous, and passersby can easily imagine a noble woman in her finery enjoying a bit of sailing in mild winds with her escort.
Marwood Hill Gardens
The stunning 20 acre Marwood Hill Gardens are situated in North Devon just six miles from Ilfracombe. The garden was created by Dr Jimmy Smart VMH in the late 50’s with the goal of being a magical haven where one can relax and enjoy the impressive collections of trees, shrubs, plants and three lakes; while taking in the peaceful atmosphere and stunning views. Over the years
the garden has been featured on several prestigious garden shows and is a favourite destination for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re looking for a wonderful day out with the family, or simply seeking some relaxation and gardening inspiration, Marwood Hill Gardens is a must. Dogs on leads are welcome too.
The Garden House
The Garden House is perhaps one of the prettiest gardens in Devon, and the grounds include more than 8 acres of beautiful plants and trees for visitors to enjoy. Back in the 16th century, the location was an established vicarage. The ruins still stand, the garden slowly growing over them and sprouting new flowers, decorating it with bright, bursting blooms. Caretakers of the ruins try to stem the growth from getting out of hand. Visitors can explore the Wild Gardens, an informal setting where wandering is encouraged, and the Arboretum, which was only recently built.
Thorn House Gardens
If you’re a dendrologist, this garden should be your home away from home. The species of plants here are so varied and interesting that many dendrologists come here to do serious studies. Thorn House used to be called South Wembury House, but it was renamed in 1920 by its new owner, William Arkright. The current owners, Mr. John Gibson and his wife Eva Gibson, currently allow visitors to take guided tours of the garden at allotted times. You’ll have to make an appointment if you want to see this exclusive garden, which includes exotic species like the Chilean hazel and other South American trees.
Knightshayes House Gardens
Knightshayes House Gardens include not 10… not 20… but 50 acres of garden for visitors to look at. A garden of rare trees can be found in the woodlands surrounding the Knightshayes House estate, but visitors will also enjoy soaking up the long and interesting history of the house itself. Should you need to find a quiet spot to reflect, you may want to try the lily pool and shade tree that hangs over it. You can also browse the kitchen garden and see the fruits and vegetables growing there at the recently rebuilt Walled Garden.