Devon’s 10 best gardens for a family day out

Toby Bucklands Garden Festival at Powderham 2 (c) Matt Austin

Toby Bucklands Garden Festival at Powderham 2 (c) Matt Austin - Credit: Archant

Devon, is known for its beautiful coastline, glorious countryside and stunning National Parks, also has a fabulous portfolio of gardens open for the public to enjoy and explore. Here’s Visit Devon’s round up of the county’s best gardens and gardening events for 2015…

Toby Bucklands Garden Festival at Powderham 3 (c) Matt Austin

Toby Bucklands Garden Festival at Powderham 3 (c) Matt Austin - Credit: Archant

1. Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival

Toby Buckland is a renowned British Gardener with a strong passion for the great outdoors. Famous for presenting BBC Gardeners World, he has also numerous gardening books and has his own plant nurseries at Powderham Castle. Toby will be hosting a two day garden festival on Friday 01st and Saturday 2nd May at Powderham Castle where visitors can expect to see a fantastic showcase of plants from local nurseries and growers, enjoy live music, good food, entertainment and watch the high profile gardening speaker programme.

Friday 01st and Saturday 02nd May from 10 am – 5 pm at Powderham Castle, Kenton, near Exeter, Devon. Entry Prices: Adults £7.50 on the day, £6 with advance booking online, children under 16 free. Tel: 01823 431767.

2. Stone Lane Garden and Sculpture Exhibition

Stone Lane Garden is an enchanting 5 acre woodland and water garden situated on the edge of Dartmoor National Parks. Famous for a National Collections of Birch and Alder trees, the garden also features many pools and streams, and is home to a collection of garden sculptures which remain from the 2014 Mythic Garden Sculpture Exhibition which marked the garden’s 22nd year. With something to be found in every corner of the garden, Stone Lane is open all year round and is equally magical and unique in both summer and winter. Furthermore, a new Mythic Garden Sculpture Exhibition entitled “Folklore” will open from Saturday 2nd May – Monday 7th October 2015. Entry Prices Adults £5.00, Children and Concessions £2.50. Telephone: 01884 253200.


Pecorama - Credit: Archant


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Pecorama in Beer is home to the world’s foremost manufacturer of model railway track PECO Streamline and PECO Setrack. Completed in July 2000, the Millennium Gardens feature a series of celestially themed garden rooms linked by scented walkways, special water features and stunning stonework. Each garden has an individual name, reflective of its floral features, colours and the plants that can be found. The top of the Gallery is designed to look like a ruined castle by way of a flat roof garden surrounded by a derelict moat. The Beer Heights Light Railway takes visitors on a mile-long rail ride through the gardens on real steam locomotives, making this a wonderful family garden day out. Contact Pecorama for seasonal entry prices and membership cards. Telephone: 01297 21542.

4.Tiverton Castle

The Beautiful walled gardens of Tiverton Castle feature rare and interesting plants, colourful spring bulb borders, a pergola planted with rapid growing and scented climbing plants, a well-stocked kitchen garden, apple orchard and woodland garden, all situated in the romantic grounds of the atmospheric Tiverton Castle, originally built in 1106. The gardens cover some 3 acres and include pathways leading towards the River Exe. Garden Only Entry: £2.00. Castle Admission: Adults £7.00, Concessions Half Price, Children £3.00. Telephone 01884 253200.


Pecorama - Credit: Archant

5. Elizabethan Gardens

The Elizabethan Gardens sit in a 16th Century Street in Plymouth’s Historic Barbican where wealthy merchants once built their houses. Providing an oasis of tranquillity amidst a sea of shoppers and tourist activity the garden features very low box hedges containing beds of colourful flowers and fragrant herbs in the traditional, old Elizabethan manner. Visitors to the gardens will walk the cobbled paths and areas of old slate before relaxing on stone seats beside the cooling garden fountain – the perfect way to reflect and embark on a journey back in time to Elizabethan Plymouth. Free Attraction. Tel: 01752 306330.

6. Torre Abbey Gardens

The Torre Abbey Gardens feature a range of marvellous plants, trees and church ruins, and include a novel display inspired by the works of crime writer Agatha Christie. The Abbey’s Head Gardener dug deep into the murky world of poisons, antidotes and remedies from Christie’s novels to create a garden featuring a variety of plants that have been known to cure or kill (depending on one’s motives). Of course, the garden is not really dangerous and has been designed to provide entertainment with less potent garden cultivars planted but creating an interesting take on a traditional garden. The garden also features one of the Westcountry’s finest Dahlia collections and there is a new medieval children garden which focuses on the senses with Turf seats, willow tunnels and sensory planting.

Nothenhay Gardens

Nothenhay Gardens - Credit: Archant

General opening times: Wednesdays to Sundays - last admission at 4pm. Entry prices £7.50, Seniors £6.25, Children £3.00. Telephone: Tel: 01803 293593

The International Agatha Christie Festival will take place at Torre Abbey and will focus on the potent plants. The festival will run from 11th – 19th September 2015 and Torre Abbey will also be hosting the Garden Party to Die For.

7. Northernhay Gardens

Northernhay Gardens in the heart of Exeter City Centre are of outstanding historic significance. Incorporating a good stretch of Roman wall and the only length of Saxon town wall to be seen in England, this is the oldest public open space in England, being originally laid out in 1612 as a pleasure walk for Exeter residents. The garden is home to a number of mature trees and hosts some of the city’s most impressive seasonal horticultural displays, including the 59 varieties within the Cornus collection and wildlife including Peregrines and Sparrowhawks have recently been spotted making the gardens their home. Neighbouring Rougemont Gardens also incorporate some major historic features - the Roman city wall and bank, the gatehouse, bank and ditches of William the Conqueror’s Castle. Northernhay can be easily reached by train from Exeter Central Station and from any City Centre bus. Northernhay Gardens is accessible by foot from Northernhay Place, Queen Street and paths from New North Road. The gardens are open from 7:30am till dusk. Free Attraction.Telephone: 01392 262630.

Ali Marshall (Head Gardener Torre Abbey) in the Potent Plants Garden

Ali Marshall (Head Gardener Torre Abbey) in the Potent Plants Garden - Credit: Archant

8.Dartington Hall Grade II Listed Gardens

At the heart of the 1200 acre estate sits the Dartington Hall Grade II Listed Gardens. Seasonal garden highlights include tree magnolias, camellias, cherry blossom and snake’s head fritillaries in the woodland walks in Spring. Late May to early June the wildflower meadows featuring wild orchids, bluebells, primroses burst into colour. In Summer the Sunny Border is the star near the Tiltyard with plants and flowers in blue, yellow, white and green. During Autumn – Leaf colour is at its most spectacular in the maples of High Meadow and Valley Field and in Winter the witchhazels near Flora bloom early in the new year followed by crocuses at their most spectacular in the crocus circle on the Great Lawn under the big Turkey Oak at the end of winter. The gardens also feature a 1500 year old yew tree and a famous sculpture by Henry Moore. Open from dawn until dusk. Telephone 01803 847000

9. Marwood Hill Gardens

This magical 20 acre private garden was created by Dr Jimmy Smart VMH in the late 1950’s and sits in a tucked away valley just 4 miles from Barnstaple. The gardens are a wonderful place where visitors can relax and enjoy the impressive collections of plants, shrubs and trees including three National Collections - Astilbes, Tulbaghia and Japanese iris and three lakes. The Garden Tea Room boasts spectacular views across the valley and offers a selection of locally sourced and homemade hot and cold dishes and cakes. Dogs on leads welcome. Entry Prices Adults £6.00 Children £2.50. Tel: 01271 342528.

10. RHS Garden Rosemoor

Set within wonderful woodlands, RHS Rosemoor is a highly ornamental garden with shrubs, roses, perennials and bulbs and the original garden was created by Lady Anne Berry. The gardens feature the woodland garden and woodland banks which form part of Lady Anne’s original garden. The planting features a huge variety of ornamental woodland trees and shrubs including some of the original Collingwood Ingram cherry introductions. There is also the beautiful Queen Mother Rose Garden containing a marvellous collection of Hybrid Tea and Floribunda Roses, and a maze of pathways which gradually leads to the side of the valley with views overlooking Rosemoor House. Entry Prices Adults £8.95 Children £4.50. Tel: 0845 265 8072

For further information on all these and more wonderful Devon Gardens and events go to

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