There is something about seeing the new Spring blooms that lifts the spirits, even the hayfever sufferers among us love seeing the brightly coloured flowers and the floral scents that indicate that warmer weather and sunnier days are approaching. We’ve focussed a lot on adventures recently here at Visit Devon, so this is one for those of you whose perfect day involves peacefully wandering around the region’s beautiful gardens. Plus with the current guidelines on visiting confined spaces, heading out to enjoy the great outdoors is something we can all do to get some fresh air!
Devon is full of picturesque outdoor places, from the many wildflowers that grow on both Exmoor and Dartmoor to the many parks and greenspaces that you can find to the Biodome in North Devon and the various Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty that are dotted around the region, you’re never too far from nature. Take a look at some of our suggestions of pretty places to visit below and don’t forget to let us know if you enjoy a day out with the Spring flowers!
Image: RHS Rosemoor.
If we’re talking gardens to visit, we can’t not mention RHS Garden Rosemoor while there are certain precautions in place, the gardens remain open, while the rest of the site is temporarily closed until further notice.
This enchanting garden can be found in the picturesque Torridge Valley, home to Tarka the Otter, the fascinating Tarka Trail and near to the famous North Devon coastline. Whatever time of year you choose to visit Rosemoor, you’ll find a garden that is rich in variety and offers inspiring displays in all seasons and plenty of themed areas. Not only that, but the garden has a series of regular events and activities perfect for the whole family, every day there are self guided adventure trails and two play areas inspired by the natural world. If you fancy some refreshment after enjoying the gardens, don’t forget to stop off at the Garden Kitchen full of quality local produce and even Sunday carveries!
If you have time to explore elsewhere after your visit to Rosemoor, Dartington Crystal is less than two miles away. This is the UK’s only remaining glass factory and provides a unique insight into this craft, the self guided tour lets you see all elements of the production process and the visitor centre tells you everything there is to know about the factory’s history.
Image: Pentillie Castle Gardens.
Further south near Plymouth, you’ll find Pentillie Castle’s Gardens the castle gardens and woodlands are open as usual, but there may be restrictions in place, you can find all their latest information on their website.
This beautiful set of gardens stretches over 55 acres around the castle and along the banks of the River Tamar. They are attended by a team of dedicated gardeners and whatever time of year you choose to visit, you’ll find a beautifully kept garden that allows for the natural world to grow, giving them a wild, natural look.
Originally, the gardens were designed by two of gardening’s biggest names, Humphry Repton and Lewis Kennedy and were also funded in part by Sir James Tillie. The gardens and the castle offer a fabulous day out with plenty of interesting things to see and do, including Pentillie’s own daffodil specimen, known as The Duke which starts flowering at the end of March and the beginning of April, followed by the snow drops and then the bluebells offering a never ending carpet of colour.
Image: Buckland Abbey
The National Trust is often a good shout for those of you wanting to enjoy some peaceful walks around a landscaped garden. The Trust manage a number of properties and open spaces across Devon, many of which have incredible gardens and grounds for you to explore. Towards the Plymouth area is Buckland Abbey the former home of Sir Francis Drake. Once you’ve exhausted the house and its many fascinating rooms and displays, head out into the gardens where you can enjoy the tranquillity of the Tavy Valley. There are several gardens on the estate including the Elizabethan Garden which is typically full of colour, the Kitchen Garden where the home grown fruit and vegetables for the Abbey’s restaurant are grown and of course, the Secret Garden!
Plymouth is a great place to visit, especially if you have an interest in maritime history, the region is full of heritage attractions, including Morwellham Quay which isn’t far from Buckland Abbey and is a fully interactive experience. It is part historic port, part village and part copper mine, the whole thing is a World Heritage site and is a fascinating way of finding out more about Devon’s industrial past. Check with them before making your journey in case the situation changes.
In the English Riviera, you’ll find Greenway, another of the National Trust’s properties. This is most famous for being the holiday home of writer, Agatha Christie, but it is also known locally for the abundance of spring flowers that pop up at this time of year. Like most National Trust sites, there is a full calendar of things to see and do here throughout the year.
The gardens at Greenway are plentiful and peaceful with plenty of hidden gems to admire. The walled gardens include a restored peach house and vinery and is home to the first National Trust garden to have been awarded a Camellia Garden of Excellence accreditation.
Image: Greenway by James Dobson.
Find more National Trust properties to explore here.
Visiting Greenway will put you in one of the most popular destinations in Devon, the English Riviera and Torbay are hugely popular with families, holiday makers and more. The beaches are award winning and there are loads of attractions and places to eat and stay all over the region. One way you can travel to Greenway is via the Dartmouth Steam Railway where you can catch a steam train and travel along the South Devon coast like they did in Christie’s famous novels. Alternatively, Paignton Zoo is only around three miles from the house and is currently hosting the Great Brick Safari, where you can find animals made from over one million LEGO bricks. Check local information for the most up to date openings.
Near the city of Exeter, Fursdon House and Gardens offer another chance to look at the spring flowers. Fursdon is one of Devon’s oldest family homes, with the family having lived there for more than 700 years. With views across Dartmoor, you are surprisingly close to the city centre, not that you would know with the incredibly tranquil gardens. The garden here is a mix of traditional and contemporary planting with plenty of colour, whatever season you visit. The Meadow garden features a small pond to encourage wildlife and has plenty of vistas and views as well as benches dotted around for you to really take in the peace and quiet.
Image: Fursdon House
If you’re in North Devon, look out for Hartland Abbey and Gardens. Based near Bideford and just a mile from Hartland Quay, this stately home allows you to step back in time. Once you’ve explored the award winning house with its interesting interiors, indulge in the woodland walks, the walled gardens and the parkland that are all on site. As well as being able to spot an array of beautiful flowers, you’ll also find the resident peacocks, donkeys and sheep which live on the land and enjoy a range of nature trails.
Each of the gardens have been lovely restored after decades of neglect to reflect their original style.
Image: Hartland Abbey Gardens.
If you’re the kind of person who prefers a Botanical Garden rather than a landscaped garden, make sure to visit Bicton Park Botanical Gardens in Budleigh Salterton. There you’ll get to enjoy over 60 acres of beautiful gardens with soft sweeping lawns, water features, and more, including a woodland railway, museum, garden centre, restaurant and nature trails. The Palm House is one of the most interesting and beautiful garden buildings in the region and dates back to Victorian times, they’re even older than the famous gardens at Kew!
Image: Bicton Park.
You can find more inspiration of parks and gardens to visit in Devon by heading here.