Garden Portrait: Coleton Fishacre

Welcome to Coleton Fishacre in south Devon, a gorgeous Art Deco style house and a beautiful valley garden that leads you to a coastal viewpoint. The house was built in the 1920s and the country home of the D’Oyly Carte family (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame). A 30 acre garden surrounds the house and the National Trust are recreating it as it once would have been with the help of photographs and planting books kept by the family.

There are many steep steps in the garden and slopes especially at the bottom, so it can be quite a challenging garden to walk around. Due to the high humidity created by the sea and the stream that runs through the valley many exotic plants thrive here under the canopy of the trees.

Paths lead from the house down the valley and on either side, with many smaller paths, slopes, steps meandering through the slopes. One minute you can be in a typical English woodland scene with bluebells and ransoms,

the next in an exotic jungle with Chilean Firetrees, Banana plants and Dracaenae.

Plants from South America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia rub noses with English cottage garden plants; Azaleas and Rhododendrons hide behind tall stands of bamboo; Magnolias flirt with Chilean Myrtles. Someone here had fun choosing the planting, it is colourful and eclectic and lush.  You never know quite what lies ahead.

And from the delightful Gazebo, which can be reached via a lawned-path, you get a wonderful glimpse of the sea.

The gardens have a lovely courtyard tea room which serve lunches as well as cakes, a National Trust shop and an interesting range of plants for sale too. The route to the gardens is along a narrow road for the latter part, but this is only for a short distance and there are passing places. Quite often coaches arrive for lunch-time so if you want a quieter visit then choose earlier in the morning or late afternoon. Or do as we did and stay in one of the cottages so you can visit the garden at any time you like.


Friday Fountain Challenge: December

Snowshill Manor is a Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a life time by Charles Wade


In addition there is a lovely garden with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. And in one courtyard is this delightful huffing and puffing Green Man fountain.


I think he’d look rather splendid in my garden – I have a stone wall and I have the lichens to go with it!

If you’d like to join in with the fountain challenge then please pop over to Polianthus for the rules

This month is a free for all so if you have a fountain to share I’m sure she would love to see you.

Garden Portrait: Croft Castle Walled Garden

I love visiting Croft (Herefordshire). There are nice walks around the parkland and even longer walks through the woodland or up to the iron-age fort at Croft Ambrey. My main reason for visiting though is to see what is going on in the walled garden and have a stroll through the ancient trees. The walled garden lies behind the castle and slopes gently uphill towards the old glasshouse which is currently being renovated.


Every time I visit I see new additions and improvements and this month (late October) I was surprised to see the vineyard looking very well established. We have been here before – last time in spring – when the frogs in the pond were feeling frisky. But let’s have a look at the beauty found here in late autumn.


Not only are there the expected browns and greys and tawny swathes of grasses and seed-heads, the fading greens and yellows of dying foliage, but unexpected pops of vibrant colour. Rudbeckia, verbena bonariensis, chrysanthemums, sedum, the stunning autumn colour of Rhus typhina (stags horn tree) and the hot splashes of the glory vine tumbling over the old red-brick and creeping through the denuded foliage.



Borders are still full of flowering annuals such as the sweet-peas, roses, dramatic hardy autumn flowering lilies (N. bowdenii) and deep crimson thistles usually seen in July and August.


Not many were taking advantage of the deck-chairs and elegant benches scattered around the garden, it was a little too chilly for simply sitting, and on the day that the clocks went back, it would soon be dusk. But the lady by the pond is still relaxed. And I will leave you with a bench I rather fancied.

More lovely walks can be found over at my friend Jo’s place.

Garden Portrait: Berrington Hall Walled Garden

I mentioned the walled garden, which is near the mansion house, on my recent walk in Berrington Hall’s parkland . This walled garden has been transformed over the last few years and at this time of year is full of vibrant colour as well as a heavily laden orchard.

Step inside

Pathway with perennial borders

Behind the potting shed is a productive potager (an ornamental vegetable or kitchen garden), interspersed with annuals such as sweet-peas, marigolds, nasturtiums, everlastings and nicotiana. Often flowers (edible and non-edible) and herbs are planted with the vegetables to enhance the garden’s beauty.

In the Vegetable Garden, a fragrant tunnel of sweet-peas

I always find strolling around a garden makes me happy. The glory of nature combined with the skills of the gardener helps to calm me down when life and its curve-balls come crashing my way. It’s been a bit like that lately.

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas