Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Devilish Devon with its garden secrets!


This has got to be one of the most stunning gardens that I have visited this year! It's a little out of the way, but for those of us who are staying at home in Britain for holidays this summer and visiting the West Country, it's a must.

Coleton Fishacre in Devon is to die for - one of the finest examples of a garden with "Arts and Crafts" elements that I've seen yet. It's also a long way off the beaten track, at the end of a promontory with the river dart to the west and the sea on the other side, so has not yet been ravaged by garden tourism - but this is part of its charm, even if the access roads are a little daunting. My advice is: go early in the day so you don't meet a coach coming the other way!


The house (above) was designed by Oswald Milne - a pupil of Edwin Lutyens - and is quite austere. It's well worth taking a tour of the interior to see some fine examples of "art deco" living, but be warned.... don't try and take photographs out of the windows, because the ladies that look after this house on behalf of The National Trust, will simply not allow it! I got into dreadful trouble with my camera and almost had it removed after quite some debate about whether or not I should be allowed to point my lens at the gardens from inside the property! Suffice to say that these ladies proved just too much for me and I put my camera away!

But you can photograph what you want outside and there's lots to immortalise on your memory card, like the extraordinary blooms above (if anybody knows what these are, please leave me a comment!).

Because Coleton is situated in a protected position near a river estuary it has its own micro-climate and you will find plants here that don't grow elsewhere in the UK, including proteas. There is also an unusual tree collection and you will encounter redwoods and swamp cypress, as well as a very tall tulip tree and a tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima).
I have to confess that I am not an expert on plants and I visit gardens to gauge the overall impression and atmosphere rather than the planting - but I am told this garden is a plantsman's paradise - and that people come from far and wide to see specimens that are not found anywhere else in this part of England.

However, I was aware that there were plants and flowers here that I had never seen anywhere else and I was particularly taken by the colour scheme and the way in which the borders were laid out around the house. Everywhere you look there are vibrant colours and another surprise!

Part of Coleton's charm is that it is so varied - there is a wonderful rill garden (below), filled to bursting with flowers, acres of woodland that wind down towards the sea and afford splendid views, and a stream that meanders through the valley. Every corner you turn gives a different vista, yet you feel as though you are hidden away from the rest of humanity in a secret garden!


There are many other gardens near here worth visiting, so if you have the time or inclination, do stay locally because this will allow you to visit some of the other properties that I will be featuring in the next few days - it's a magical part of England and you won't want to leave!

31 comments:

  1. Wow! Very beautiful, lucky you got to see it in person!
    Rosey

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Charlotte, how interesting about no photos from inside the house looking out! A rule is a rule is a rule...right? Glad you had freedom of camera outdoors, the gardens look wonderful. It goes to show how important the color red is in the landscape. :-)
    Frances

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Charlotte~~ What a gorgeous estate. I can't imagine why you weren't allowed to take photos indoors. I'm not sure but the mystery plant could be an Echium species.

    ReplyDelete
  4. OMG! What gorgeous country/cottage gardens and blooms and foliage! Man, I could gaze at your pictures forever. What a fabulous excursion. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Charlotte It looks lovely. I can't believe I lived in Torquay for 4 years and never visited this garden although it was a lifetime ago. I hear ASgatha Christie's garden is nearbye and was being renovated perhaps you will be visiting there soon.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like to say I have my niche in the gardening world and can't begin to know all the names of plants. You are in good company. I too like the overall look of a garden. You have captured it in words and pictures.

    Really enjoyed this post! Love history.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You may want to delete the last comment, as I sent it to the wrong person through my own inexperience in blogging technique. I meant to send you an e-mail such as this. You seem like a very interesting person. I love your blog about English gardens. Must have been fun. I love looking at others' gardens, too

    ReplyDelete
  8. What an absolutely gorgeous garden, thanks for the tour. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the gardens full of color! I am drawn to gardens like the ones in today's post. Lovely!

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's absolutely beautiful. Funny people, no photos from inside the house. Silly rule.

    Thanks for mentioning the link Garden Visit. Wow, I just discovered 2 new gardens in Surrey I did not even know about.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Charlotte! It's a nice post and the pictures are beautiful...thanks for sharing. will come back to check out more..

    http://theurbanbalcony.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  12. yap this garden looks great. and you you have taken some good pics too.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Marvellous, fantastic, beautiful garden I really want to be there myself and look at all that beautiful flowers. But I have never been in England so perhaps it vill be my next journey. Thanks for the tour.

    Gunilla in Sweden//Northen lights Garden//Norrskenets tradgard.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow, what beautiful gardens!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Charlotte, what a gorgeous garden, you have taken some great pictures of it. I love the rill, it is like a bold underline stroke, setting off the fluffy flower borders.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I loved the rill garden. This is such a lovely area of Devon but I never realised this garden existed! Thank you for the verbal tour! Val

    ReplyDelete
  17. I found you again. Those gardens are beautiful. Your blogs are very different. I like visiting them both.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The garden is beautiful and I love the image of the house.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've read about this garden and would love to visit it. (I was having a conversation earlier today about the problem with photographing Trust properties - I was not aware of this before).

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you for sharing this!

    It is an absolutely gorgeous garden and I will definitely visit!

    Keep up the good work.

    Ryan

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wow...what a wonderful place to visit, and such a beautiful garden..

    ReplyDelete
  22. Well Coleton has now been added to my list of gardens to visit :-) Really interesting and thanks for posting. I have been to a garden before where a visitor was asked not to video the outside of the house as it affected their insurance - maybe its a similar thing but it is a shame. You do get a different view from windows.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Amazing garden. And how nonsensical about the "out the window" rule. What are they hoping to protect with it -- the panes of glass?

    As an aside, Tree of Heaven has become a not-so-heavenly weed in Toronto.

    Charlotte, Sarah and I want to thank you again for our Meme Award, and to let you know that we have posted our response, and passed the baton.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks for following my blog! Love yours. Im a follower now!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Is this the one with the sea water swimming pool that fills up at high tide?
    I was there years ago feeling rather exhausted because I spent the night in Dartmouth surrounded by the noisiest seagulls in England.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I visited the garden earlier this year - it is a gem and the house too. Both complement each other perfectly. I remember the narrow lanes too - teeth gritting!

    ReplyDelete
  27. The mystery flower might be a Puya, perhaps P. berteroniana.

    I enjoyed your blog, thanks. I'm rather envious of all your rain. Everything here in California is dying for want of water.

    ReplyDelete