20 great Devon garden events in 2016
PUBLISHED: 12:48 29 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:09 30 March 2016
2016 has been designated The Year of the English Garden, we look ahead to some of the events in this year's calendar which will appeal to anyone with a love of garden
The National Trust has a brilliant campaign for children – 50 Things to Do Before You’re 11¾. One of their suggestions is “plant it, grow it, eat it”. The gardeners at Greenway – once the home of Dame Agatha Christie – are planting seeds to grow beautiful flowers and vegetables this year. Drop by between 1pm and 3pm and they will help you plant your own pot of vegetable seeds to take home. It’s important to visit the website for information on parking.
National Gardening Week, with its slogan “Greening Grey Britain”, aims to promote the benefits of having a green and pleasant land. Find out about the links between health, happiness and horticulture at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Rosemoor Gardens in North Devon.
Keith Wiley was Head Gardener and Curator at The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum near Plymouth for over 25 years. During his tenure he developed a style of gardening based on modifying natural landscapes from around the globe. Discover Keith’s secrets at the Fortescue Garden House Lecture, sponsored by the Plymouth office of Brewer Dolphin, to be held at the Postgraduate Medical Centre, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth at 7.30pm. To book tickets (£14) call The Garden House on 01822 854769.
Rhododendrons have been popular for a few hundred years, with Victorian plant hunters bringing prized specimens to the UK from Asia. RHS Rosemoor is hosting the Royal Horticultural Society’s main rhododendron competition this year with amazing displays of magnolias and camellias alongside the aforementioned stars of the show.
West country horticulturist Toby Buckland will welcome special guests TV presenters Joe Swift and Christine Walkden and RHS judge Jim Buttress at his 2016 Garden Festival at Powderham Garden near Exeter.
The Alpine Garden Society is devoted to alpine plants, rock gardening and rock garden plants, and holds several national shows throughout the year, one of which is held in Exeter in April. The South West Alpine Flower Show and Plant Sale is at West Exe Technology College. Entry is £3.
2 May and other dates
The Fursdon family have lived on an estate near Exeter for over 750 years, but it is in the last 35 that the grounds have been developed, redesigned and extended to the tranquil paradise they are today. Discover the partially enclosed Fox Garden with its terraced lawns, formal borders, shrubs and trees or the Hot Bed, full of vivid summer-flowering plants. Elsewhere you will find borders of scented plants and herbs, a rose-covered arch and the Meadow Garden with a pond and old beech trees.
Things are hotting up with the Devon Chilli Fiesta, now in its third year. More than 30 top producers from all over the country with take part in the two-day event at RHS Rosemoor. You’ll find chilli sauces, chocolate, fudge and preserves. There will be cookery demos and the chance to buy chilli plants to take home.
Since 1927, the National Gardens Scheme has raised more than £45 million for nursing and caring charities by encouraging people to open their gardens to the public. Opening for the first time this year is Splatt in Winkleigh, North Devon. A two-acre garden, winding through hay meadows, with a further four acres of ancient bluebell and orchid wood. There are two spring-fed ponds with planted wildlife islands and water lilies.
Those who enjoy their flower shows in the atmosphere of a traditional ‘flower tent’ should head for Devon County Show. At the heart of the Westpoint ground is a giant marquee dedicated to all things floral – from floral art to the formal flower show classes.
A group of gardens in the pretty village of Abbotskerswell in South Devon will be open as part of the National Gardens Scheme Open Gardens. The village is taking part for the eighth time and around seven gardens will open alongside allotments. They range from some of the smallest to some of the largest in the village. Homemade teas in Church House. A passport to the gardens, which are open 1pm-5pm, is £6.
A miniature steam railway, scarecrow competition, Hunt the Hidden Object and Garden Codeword competitions are all part of Talaton Open Gardens, on the Bank Holiday weekend. Around 10 gardens will be open at Talaton, 10 miles east of Exeter, on Saturday and Sunday between 2pm and 6pm. Entry is £5, under 16s free. Collect your map from the church car park.
3, 10, 17 and 24 June
The National Trust’s Saltram House, near Plymouth, has spectacular parkland overlooking the River Plym. The imposing main house is surrounded by mostly 19th century gardens, with a working 18th century orangery and follies, beautiful shrubberies and imposing specimen trees, providing year-round interest. The Saltram gardeners are hosting hour-long tours of the garden on Friday afternoons in June.
At Bradninch, near Exeter, you can wander through around 15 of the village’s gardens, from historic cottages to stately homes, all accompanied by beautiful live music. The soundtrack of all types of music from jazz to classical is entirely appropriate as Bradninch Musical Gardens raises money for the local Music and Arts Festival. Tea and refreshments will be available at many of the gardens.
Otterton Secret Gardens are only open every other year, so make the most of this year’s event. Around 12 gardens will be open between 11am and 5pm at this village on the river Otter. They include an award-winning cottage garden, an architect designed modern garden, and several well-established Devon longhouse gardens. Model train rides are included in the ticket price and proceeds go to the local church and Hospice Care.
6 June - 10 July
RHS Rosemoor has expanded its Rose Festival into a month-long affair for the first time. There are over 2,000 different cultivars at Rosemoor and they take centre stage in a number of events. A Treasury of Roses (6 June to 10 July), is an exhibition of botanical art. British Flowers Week (13 to 19 June) and Rose Weekend (18 to 19 June) are also part of the programme.
Kingsbridge Community Garden is a marvellous place – all done on organic principles right down to the compost loo. For one weekend in June, the gardens will benefit from money raised by an open gardens event in the historic market town. More than 20 gardens will open their gates, covering a wide range of sizes and styles.
The National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens – known as Plant Heritage – works tirelessly to conserve our unique garden flora and to protect species under threat. The Devon Branch of Plant Heritage organise plant fairs throughout the year and one of the best is in Tavistock at the Pannier Market. It starts at 10am.
Michaelmas celebrates St Michael and all angels in September – a medieval festival to mark the end of the harvest. At the National Trust’s Saltram House near Plymouth, they are celebrating with Michaelmas Apple and Cider Day.
The West country has a rich history when it comes to apples, so keep an eye out for autumn events celebrating the autumn harvest. RHS Rosemoor, which has over 100 varieties including Devon only apples, is celebrating with an entire day devoted to this fruit, working with Orchards Live, Thornhayes Nursery and the RHS South West Area Fruit Group.