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Private gardens in Devon: some of the prettiest to visit

PUBLISHED: 13:24 09 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:17 09 January 2017




Cosy up indoors and make plans for next year’s visits to some of Devon’s most beautiful private gardens, says Catherine Courtenay

The winter months may not be a great time for getting out and visiting gardens, but those long dark evenings provide a good opportunity to plan a list of ‘must-visit’ gardens to see in 2017. Every year The National Gardens Scheme produces its yellow booklet of gardens which open for charity, nearly all of which are private gardens which would otherwise be inaccessible. Most of the gardens list days in 2017 when they will be open for visitors. However, there are a number of gardens which also open ‘by arrangement’ at other times of the year, so people can contact the owners directly to arrange a time to visit. Currently in the midst of compiling the 2017 booklet, Devon County organiser, Miranda Allhusen revealed some of these ‘by arrangement’ gardens, including one which is opening for the very first time.

gardens gardens


For fabulous spring colour including mature azaleas and rhododendrons head to Avenue Cottage at Ashprington, Totnes. Once part of an 18th century landscape, this neglected garden was cleared and then replanted over the last 25 years. It has views down to the River Dart and Sharpham House.

Open by arrangement March to October, groups and individuals welcome.

Owner: Richard Pitts and David Sykes

Tel: 01803 732769.

Hamblyn's Combe garden, Dittisham Hamblyn's Combe garden, Dittisham


“This garden was designed to show off Bridget’s stunning sculptures and it does this to perfection, along with unrivalled views down to the River Dart,” says Miranda. Hamblyn’s Coombe at Dittisham covers seven acres and has extensive planting of trees and shrubs, along with wild flower meadows and good rhododendrons, camellias, ferns bamboos and hydrangeas. Artist owner Bridget McCrum’s stone carvings and bronzes are sited throughout the garden.

Open by arrangement, March to November.

Owner: Bridget McCrum

Tel: 01803 722228

Little Webbery garden, Bideford Little Webbery garden, Bideford


Entering this three acre garden at Little Webbery near Bideford in its valley setting is always a joy says Miranda. It’s a classic English country garden style with its large walled kitchen garden, yew and box hedging, trellises covered in roses and clematis, its pond and lake and mature trees. It even boasts two ha-has.

Open by arrangement, April to October.

Owner: Mr and Mrs J A Yewdall

Tel: 01271 858206.

The Bridge Mill garden, Bridgerule The Bridge Mill garden, Bridgerule


A restored water mill is at the heart of The Bridge Mill organic garden at Bridgrule near Holsworthy. There’s a small cottage garden, very productive fruit and vegetable garden and herb garden on this 16 acre smallholding site which also has woods and riverside walks. “There’s an imaginative use of the water which also powers the mill and it has a wonderful relaxed feel about the garden,” says Miranda.

Open by arrangement, May to June.

Owner: Rosie and Alan Beat

Tel 01288 381341

Foamlea garden, Mortehoe Foamlea garden, Mortehoe


The magnificent coastline of Morte Point in north Devon forms the backdrop to Foamlea a seaside garden at Mortehoe. A wide range of both familiar and unusual shrubs and perennials thrive on this open clifftop site, making the most of the maritime climate and growing around drystone walls, slate steps and shillet paths.

Open by arrangement May to September, max 35.

Owner: Beth Smith

Tel 01271 871182

gardens gardens


Cleave Hill at Membury on the ede of the Blackdown Hills is designed around a pretty thatched house and old stone barns. It’s an artistic garden, its cottage style complimented with a dose of contemporary design and planting lasting throughout the season. It also boasts wonderful views, along with a vegetable garden, orchard and wild flower meadow.

Open by arrangement January to November.

Owners: Andy and Penny Pritchard

Tel: 01404 881437

Higher Cherubeer Garden, Dolton, Devon. Higher Cherubeer Garden, Dolton, Devon.


There’s a great variety in both the planting and style of garden at Sutton Mead at Moretonhampstead. Paths wander through mature woodland and lawns surround a granite lined pond. There’s a mature orchard and all year round productive vegetable garden and a mix of unusual planting. Plenty of seats dotted around the garden provide ways to stop and enjoy the stunning moorland setting.

Open by arrangement.

Owners: Edward and Miranda Allhusen

Tel 01647 440296

South Wood Farm garden, Cotleigh South Wood Farm garden, Cotleigh


One of the first gardens to open in February, Higher Cherubeer at Dolton is a beautiful example of a winter garden with its National Collection of cyclamen, hellebores and more than 300 snowdrop varieties. But it has equal appeal throughout the year and into the autumn thanks to the skills of its owner, Jo Hynes who has created raised beds, a large herbaceous border, a kitchen garden, alpine house and colourful collection of basketry willows.

Open: by arrangement from February to October for groups of 10+

Owner: Jo and Tom Hynes

Tel: 01805 b804265


The Chelsea gold medal garden designer Arne Maynard created the garden at South Wood Farm, Cotleigh. It surrounds a 17th century Devon farmhouse set deep in the Blackdown Hills and includes a restored large walled courtyard, a kitchen garden, pond, orchard and wild flower meadow. “Arne has sensitively incorporated the ancient farm buildings into a stunning garden,” says Miranda.

Open: By arrangement April to September. Guided tours for group visits

Owner: Dr Clive Potter

Contact: williamjamessmithson@gmail.com


Opening for the first time this year is Greatcombe on the southern slopes of Dartmoor at Holne. This tranquil garden has a babbling stream and series of ‘rooms’ with different planting schemes. Follow a series of undulating paths and lawns bordered by spring ad summer flowering shrubs, herbaceous plants, ornamental grasses and spectacular rambling roses. The garden reflects the artistic nature of its owner, Sarah Richardson, who sells her work from her on-site studio.

Open: by arrangement April to September

Owner: Sarah Richardson

Tel 01364 631402


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