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G is for Glorious Gardens

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

Spring is nearly here and the gardens of the southwest are starting to come to life - there are so many different gardens to choose from,so whether you are a plant afficionado or just want somewhere scenic to wear out the kids, there's something for everyone...

Cornwall of course is famous for its gardens, with the sheltered warm (and wet!) climate of the far southwest enabling many more exotic and semi tropical plants to be grown there.

Top of the list for most visitors has to be The Eden Project, although not really a garden in the traditional sense - perhaps a better description is an environmental attraction. Breathing new life into the post industrial Cornish landscape - the world famous biomes rise out of disused china clay pits. From the indoor waterfall in the rainforest biome, to garden sculptures and the new invisible worlds exhibition, you will definitely fill a whole day (or two!) and there are always family friendly attractions during the school holidays.

Another of Cornwall's most popular is The Lost Gardens of Heligan. Dating back to the mid 1700's, the origins of the garden are as part of a wealthy Cornish family estate. The gardens were developed and added to right up until the outbreak of WW1. As with many great estates following the war, the loss of so many men abroad, led to the demise of the estate, but instead of being sold off for development, the gardens lay abandoned. It wasn't until 1990 that the gardens were rediscovered, and the task of restoration began. As well as exploring the gardens, look out for the iconic Heligan sculptures on the woodland walk, and visit the southwest first rare breeds farm.

Cornwall doesn't get all the glory though - there are many award winning gardens in Devon too.

RHS Rosemoor near Torrington is one of the UK's best gardens - an award winning garden open all year round, with many events throughout the year. The majority of Rosemoor has been developed from scratch since the property was donated to the RHS in 1988 but the heart of the garden is still the original Lady Anne's Garden. With over twenty different gardens areas to explore, you can easily fill your day, and again there are lots of family themed events during school holidays. A particular highlight is the winter sculpture exhibition and evening illuminations.

Another popular attraction in North Devon is Arlington Court. From the lovely formal Victorian garden & walled kitchen garden, to the extensive parkland designed in the picturesque style, there is lots to explore at this National Trust property, not to mention the house and carriage museum. If Victorian gardens are your thing, then don't forget to visit Clovelly Court - an outstanding Victorian kitchen garden with lovingly restored glasshouses. These gardens are a great addition to a day exploring the beautiful fishing village of Clovelly. Make sure to enjoy the beautiful views across to Lundy island.

Often overlooked in favour of its more well known neighbours, Marwood Hill Gardens are tucked away in a valley just a few miles from Barnstaple. A tranquil 20 acre private garden with 3 lakes, the neglected garden has been painstakingly developed by the original owner since the 1950's and is still in family ownership.

For something more historical, Buckland Abbey is worth a visit. The historic home of Sir Francis Drake, the gardens themselves were mainly landscaped in the 1950s. Several gardens have been restored to reflect the historic past of the abbey with Elizabethan garden design typical of the tudor period and a kitchen garden much the same as it would have been when tended by the 11th century monks.

More gardens worth a visit:

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