East Devon Open Gardens

PUBLISHED: 11:34 15 April 2010 | UPDATED: 10:04 28 April 2010

For some fine gardens in East Devon collect a copy of the National Gardens Scheme Devon gardens 2005, available at most garden and tourist information centres. The bright yellow cover is easily recognisable and county booklets are printed this year with the new NGS logo that will become very familiar in the future.

The NGS provides the ideal solution for visitors to enjoy outstanding gardens and also to contribute to charity through their visit. In 2004 the NGS gave over 1.8 million pounds to nursing and garden charities that include Macmillan Cancer Relief and Marie Curie Cancer Care

Tucked away in the wooded, rolling hills of East Devon is the tiny village of Southleigh. It is worth a visit to experience the peace and solitude to be found in the area and on Saturday and Sunday, June 4/5, two gardens open jointly for the NGS.

Mulberry House has a garden that was created from a bare sloping field nearly seven years ago. It is now full with bursting borders of plants, spreading grasses, rose hedges and much more of interest that shows how a garden can be created. Thomasina Tarling, the owner, is a garden writer who has used all her experience in the development of the garden. Her near neighbour, Eric Daniels, lives at Popes Cottage where a garden has probably existed for hundreds of years. In addition to the borders of shrubs and flowers he has a very productive vegetable patch and a bulging greenhouse.

Another hidden village is Combpyne, just to the East of the Axe valley. Here the Manor house and garden is owned by Donald Campbell. Donald is a very keen supporter of the Axe Vale Conservation Society and the garden has been developed for the conservation of the environment and wildlife. The Combpyne Manor garden is open on Saturday and Sunday, June 11/12, and July 9/10 July, from 11am-5pm.
Not far away, back on the A3052 at Rousdon, is a newly-designed garden created from scratch only in 2003. Marie-Elaine Houghton, who is a garden designer, and her husband Mark decided they wanted their own beach! This they have now made with tons of gravel and pebbles and of course a host of seaside and Mediterranean plants. The Hortus garden and nursery is open for NGS on Sunday, June 12, July 17, August 14 and September 18 from 11am-5pm.

A new garden this year will be open at Prospect House in Axminster. It is tucked away on the Lyme Road and not far from the centre of the town. A sheltered garden with high walls that protect the many tender shrubs and colourful perennials, it is a private garden and only open on two weekends, the first a joint opening with Ways Cottage on June 18/19, and also on July 23/24.

Ways Cottage is in the nearby village of Kilmington and has a wonderful romantic cottage garden. It is full of roses and many special perennials. This year it is only open on the one weekend in June so try not to miss it.

Nearer Sidmouth on the same weekend, Bundels at Sidbury and Tipton Lodge in the village of Tipton St John are also open. Alan and Barbara Softly have been opening their delightful cottage garden at Bundels for NGS charities for over 20 years. This year they only open on Sunday, June 19, from 10am-12.30pm and 2-5.30pm; their garden is set around the C16 cottage and has many varieties of old-fashioned and other shrub roses. The Softlys are particularly keen to garden organically and do everything possible to preserve wildlife.

Not far away in Tipton St John the garden of Tipton Lodge has been developed in a more formal manner to reflect the mid-Victorian house. There are formal grass walks between double herbaceous borders and an avenue of white weeping roses, open on Saturday and Sunday. June 18/19, from 11am-6pm.

Two private gardens are open in Colyford in July. Paddocks and the Vinyard both enjoy extensive views of the Axe valley. The gardens are on gentle slopes and a pleasure to walk around, they are packed with many rare and unusual plants. This is a joint opening and the admission charge is only 2.50 each for both gardens. There are two plant sales with teas at Paddocks, they open on Sunday, July 10 and 17, from 2pm-6pm.

A great favourite in East Devon is the garden at Yonder Hill, near Colaton Raleigh. The gardens were started in 1992 by Judy Mckay and Eddie Stevenson for Judys mother Mollie Herbert. They include a wide range from alpines to flower borders, a pebble feature, a loggery and a pond. Yonder Hill is open every Sunday throughout the summer from 1pm-5pm.

You can also take a look at the NGS website www.ngs.org.uk for details of the scheme and search for full information about gardens throughout the country using the Gardenfinder.

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