CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Winter wonderland

PUBLISHED: 10:54 10 February 2015

The upper garden has a woodland feel and is under-planted with bulbs and shade lovers

The upper garden has a woodland feel and is under-planted with bulbs and shade lovers


It might not be the time of year when most gardens are blooming but our gardening writer GILL HEAVENS still manages to track down an oasis of colour and innovation

When someone shows me their wonderfully designed, plant-filled garden oasis and they say “it used to be a field” I am always filled with great admiration. So on a dismal winter’s day, with the storm clouds gathering, I was naturally impressed when Jo Hynes guided me around her delightful garden.

Jo and her husband Tom have lived at Higher Cherubeer, near Winkleigh, for 24 years. When they arrived what lay behind their farmhouse was little more than a sloping meadow. With a fair amount of earth-moving, and a lot of hard work, this one acre “field” has been transformed into gentle slopes and meandering paths. It is filled with a mix of native and non-native trees, shrubs and perennials and a stunning National Collection of Cyclamen.

Although having the warming benefit of being south facing, the garden has a double disadvantage of sloping to the west and also being 500ft above sea level. This makes it easy prey to the damaging prevailing winds.

One of the first things that Jo and Tom did when they arrived was to plant a mixed shelter-belt of trees and a beech hedge, which now at 2m high tempers the winds. Jo says that people often think that trees are planted for the benefit of the next generation but, as evidenced here, they can easily be appreciated in one’s own lifetime. The upper garden, which was planted first, has already all the qualities of a mature deciduous woodland and is under planted with spring flowers and shade loving plants.

The cyclamen carpet large areas of the gardenThe cyclamen carpet large areas of the garden

Initially Jo’s interest in winter gardening stemmed from her bee-keeping exploits and her desire to prolong the season when nectar is available. As inevitably happens, Jo became smitten with the stars of the short days, and now has an enviable collection not only of cyclamen but also of snowdrops and hellebores. She gained her full status for the cyclamen collection in 2007 and many of these specimens now carpet the garden. As many are grown from seed the variety of leaf markings is endless, providing interest even when the plants are not in full bloom.

To house some of the more delicate members of her collection Jo has two unheated greenhouses, one for the Greek species (including the islands) and one for the Turkish mainland and Cyprus. Jo also allows room in this five star accommodation for some rare snowdrops including several that have been bred at Cherubeer.

To supply the raw materials for another hobby, the making of wickerwork baskets, Jo planted willows around the garden. A row of pollarded Scarlet Willow, Salix alba ‘Britzensis’, marks out where water runs down from the fields and is affectionately known as The Stream. The Scarlet Willow is especially useful in basket-making as it retains its burnished colour when others tend to lose it. Full advantage is taken of this damp area and it is where the candelabra primulas will shine later in the year.

Decorative dogwoods, such as Cornus sanguinea “Midwinter Fire” and Cornus sibirica, also brighten the winter scene with their luminous orange and red stems. Several witch hazels are dotted around the garden including the striking Hamamellis “Aphrodite”.

Jo has two greenhouses to protect the more tender members of her collectionJo has two greenhouses to protect the more tender members of her collection

Although the garden is magnificent during the winter months Jo is also a maestro of succession planting. The snowdrops are followed by Anemone blanda, erythoniums, and pulmonaria which in turn are succeeded by geraniums, alliums, and dierama. Jo has shown that it is possible to have a beautiful garden in all seasons and she proves this by opening for the National Garden Scheme four times throughout the year.

As anyone afflicted with “garden fever” will understand, a garden is never finished and plans are being hatched at Higher Cherubeer to extend into the vegetable plot, building another greenhouse. This one will be kept frost free and will house the African and Asian species. This sounds to me like an excellent idea, surely a girl can never have too many greenhouses?!

Higher Cherubeer garden is open as part of the Cherubeer Garden Group 2pm-5pm on Sunday, 1 February and Friday, 20 February 2015. Please visit for more details.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Devon Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Devon Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Devon Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Tue, 16:33

With breathtaking beaches, rolling countryside, stately homes and unique villages, it’s no wonder high-profile film productions flock to Devon - how well do you know the movies that have set up camp here however?

Read more
Tue, 15:17

Whether it’s on our beautiful beaches, in our magnificent moors or within our stunning stately homes, film productions are constantly setting up in Devon. Here are 16 that you might not know used the county as a filming location

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

From angry spirits to headless horses and ghoulish monks, Devon has more than a few supernatural stories to get your skin crawling. We have picked 11 haunted places in the county

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

October is the perfect time to discover the joys of Exmoor. Jennette Baxter of Visit Exmoor suggests five great ways to enjoy autumn on the moor

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wild camping can be one of the best ways to escape the crowds for a night or two and lose yourself in the landscape - SOPHIE PAVELLE chooses her five favourite places to ‘wild-life’ camp in Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From sandy beaches and lighthouse-topped cliffs to views of the Jurassic Coast, the Devon coastline offers many perfect locations for a seaside walk. We pick 10 of the prettiest routes to take

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Take our quiz to find out how well you really know Devon

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As the weather starts to warm up and the Devon countryside beckons, LIZZIE JANE of the National Trust in the South West offers plenty of walk ideas for you to try. Whether you want a relaxed Sunday stroll or a more strenuous hike, here are 10 walks across Devon (and beyond) to help you escape the crowds and head off the beaten track

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The South West Coast Path is celebrating 40 years by calling on people to help raise £40,000. To show their support, teams from Devon’s top tourist attractions are preparing to take to the trail. CHRISSY HARRIS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Away from the hustle of places like Woolacombe and Ilfracombe, North Devon is peppered with tiny coves, empty beaches and wooded walks leading to secluded bays that feel a million miles away from the tourist trail. BECKY DICKINSON reveals her pick of the best kept secrets on the North Devon coast

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

As part of her regular series where she visits Devon’s best places for 24 hours, Lydia Tewkesbury has this time been to Sidmouth

Read more
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ranging from rocky and windy walkways along the South West Coast Path to the sandy beaches on the picturesque coastline, the district of North Devon is one of the prettiest coastal areas in the South West of England. In no particular order, here are 10 of the prettiest villages in the district of North Devon

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Devon’s towns and cities there’s an awful lot you can do in just 24 hours. For her regular feature, Lydia Tewkesbury travels to see what you can do in a day in Kingsbridge

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Villages in Devon are some of the prettiest in the South West. From beautiful little hamlets on the outskirts of the moors to seaside communities, we pick 10 villages in Devon you need to visit

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search