Devon is home to countless beautiful gardens and as estate agents we are very lucky to be able to visit new ones all the time.
As gardening season is upon us, we thought it would be good to list just a few local gardens open to visitors to enjoy. After all, it is the perfect time to start planning how you’ll make the most of the great outdoors.
From wildflower meadows to manicured lawns and everything in-between, these gardens invite you to witness their displays and get inspiration for your own outdoor space.
Shobrooke Park Garden, Crediton
The 200 acre Shobrooke Park was laid out in the 1850s. The house was lost in a fire in 1946, but the grand garden remains with its Portland stone terracing and flowering shrubs under ancient oaks. All especially magnificent in the Spring.
Wandering through the oak woodland, on to the formal terracing and past the walled kitchen gardens to the American Grounds there are ever changing colours. See the way that clipped yew and laurel compliment the stonework. Enjoy the views out over Shobrooke Park with its cascade of ponds.
In May the spring flowers fade but the diversity of the shrubs continues in whites, blues, yellows and pinks. The scented azaleas in the American grounds are worth the walk.
In 2022 the gardens are open on Friday afternoons from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm on 6th & 20th May and on Saturdays mornings from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm on 7th & 21st May.
The garden is rough and steep in places so unfortunately not suitable for people with mobility problems or wheelchairs. Stout boots and walking sticks are sensible for your visit.
Downes Estate, Crediton
Downes is the family home of the Buller and Parker Family. It is still lived in by the current generation of the family – Henry and Susan Parker and their children.
The attraction of Downes is the way it brings together aspects of the history of our country (particularly as the home of the famous General Buller) and the history of a family home, still privately occupied and loved by its owners, some 300 years after it was first built. It is hoped that visitors will appreciate the opportunity to share this special place.
The house is open to the public for guided tours at 2.15pm daily during the following weeks and if you are joining a tour the gardens are open between 1.30pm – 4.30pm:
2nd May – 8th May, 30th May – 5th June, 29th August – 4th September
Sherwood House, Newton St Cyres
Sherwood Garden is a hidden treasure; traditional gardens surround a beautiful, turn of the century Arts and Crafts home set in a landscape of 23 acres. Explore two deep ancient oak wooded valleys, surrounded by pastureland and further forest. Acers, magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas and other woody plants are beautifully supported by banks of naturalised bulbs and wild flowers which thrive under careful low input management. Yew topiary surrounds the house and frames the more natural garden beyond.
If the weather is kind , there are plenty of benches and areas all over the garden for a picnic too – which means you can make a real day of it! Head to their Open Gardens with Tea and Cake in aid of Parkinsons UK on Saturday 28th May, near Crediton. There will be two sessions to view the gardens 11am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm. There are limited ticket sales for each to allow for parking restrictions.
Knighthayes Court National Trust
If you discovered ‘growing your own’ over lockdown (like millions of others) then look no further for inspiration than the nationally significant formal garden and working kitchen garden at Knightshayes.
This two-and-a-half-acre walled kitchen garden with fairytale turrets is home to a vast collection of crops which are now almost extinct – including 102 varieties of heritage tomatoes. The kitchen garden was finished in 1876, and was designed by Burges, at the same time as the house. The influence of Burges can be spotted from the turrets and the style of the walls, like a castle.
Sadly, the garden declined following the First World War, as most young men went off to fight, leaving a skeleton staff. By the Second World War, numbers had declined yet further, though the garden was still used to help produce supplies when the main house was used as a hospital during both world wars. Wider commercial availability of fruit and vegetables also meant the garden ceased to be cost effective, as more and more produce was brought into the estate. In the 1970’s, the garden had grown over and been abandoned due it becoming too expensive to run. The garden was put to bed for over 40 years and used as grazing and even an overflow carpark.
In 1999, a project was undertaken to restore the kitchen garden to its former glory and by 2003 it was fully productive again.
The lesson for us all is that it is never too late! So don’t be afraid to start growing fruit and veg no matter how tiny your plot. Plus, don’t forget that there are allotments around Crediton as well as the community allotment where you can get involved in growing without needing to own any land yourself.
Backswood Farm, Bickleigh, Tiverton
If you’re keen on finding out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, then this is one for you. This newly created two acre nature garden provides many uniquely designed homes for wildlife.
Wander through the flower meadow visiting individually designed areas, structures, water features and ponds. Seating areas afford stunning views towards Exmoor and Dartmoor. Both native and herbaceous plants have been chosen to benefit insect and bird life.
This garden opens by arrangement for groups of between 1 and 99. This means the garden welcomes visitors on pre-agreed dates. So don’t be afraid to get in contact with them and arrange a visit. You can gather knowledge, tips and ideas through chatting to them about their hard work and then come back inspired to do the same!
Lewis Cottage, Spreyton
This well-known garden and plant nursery on the way to Spreyton, near Crediton, has four acres of garden that really demonstrate how to make the most of the natural landscape. It has evolved primarily over last 30 years using informal planting and natural formal structures to create a garden that reflects the souls of those who garden there. There are often special open days and there are a couple coming up on the 28/29 May and 25/26 June. Lewis Cottage Plants is an online nursery selling plants that grow in the garden at Lewis Cottage. You can also visit the nursery in person when you book a visit and pick up some of your favourite plants that you’ve spotted in the garden.
Andrew’s Corner Belstone
A little further afield, this garden really helps inspire when you want to garden on the wild side! In 2022 they celebrate 51 years of opening through the National Gardening Scheme.
In early May the maples, rhododendrons and unusual shrubs provide interest, late May brings the flowering davidia, cornus, embothrium and the spectacular blue poppies. A perfect day out and you are certain to get some good ideas!
Fursdon, near Exeter
Venture into East Devon a little and you will find Fursdon, where rural hillside gardens blend seamlessly into rolling parkland and on into the countryside with views over the Exe valley and beyond to Dartmoor.
Take a leisurely stroll through approximately 4 acres of garden and grounds including terraces of roses, herbs and perennials in mixed traditional and contemporary planting. The Vine Pavilion and thatched Round House are great places to sit and admire the view and listen to the birds – and there are many strategically placed benches for resting and taking time to be peaceful. Throughout the gardens, there are some steep slopes with grass or gravel paths.
The Meadow Garden, originally planted nearly 200 years ago, in memory of Harriet Fursdon, is now a woodland walk leading to a pond.
This is by no means a finished garden and this is why it’s a great inspiration. Restoring and regenerating this area is an ongoing project. They are establishing wild flowers and have planted hundreds of bulbs to grow under the canopy of trees. It is a short walk from the main garden and visitors can wander and enjoy this peaceful natural space, while building up an appetite for tea in the Coach Hall.
They have created a pond in The Meadow Garden which attracts all sorts of wildlife and planted the banks and beds which lie next to the grassed walkways.
We hope you enjoy visiting these gardens. If you want to recommend others, then head to our Facebook and Instagram pages and please add them into the comments!