The sunshine on Easter Monday tempted us out to our first garden visit of the year. Having looked at the National Garden Scheme website for Devon, we soon found a garden the other side of Exeter which appealed with Magnolias, Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azaleas in bloom.
A bit of history about the place. Originally Haldon House was built in 1735 by Sir George Chudleigh, it was built in the style of Buckingham House in St. James’ Park -now Buckingham Palace – and had 36 bedrooms. The grounds were designed by Lancelot Capability Brown.
After a lot of family misfortune, the house was put up for sale but due to the lack of a buyer, most of the house was demolished in 1925. The north wing survived and is now the Lord Haldon Hotel.
The pleasure garden of the old Haldon House is now where the present Haldon Grange was built and the gardens are open each spring for the National Garden Scheme -the Yellow Book.
The garden is laid out on the side of a sheltered valley, a bit uneven under foot, but we managed to walk round most of it. There was colour everywhere from all the shrubs and trees, a feast for the eyes at every corner.
The weather was perfect, brilliant sunshine and a bright blue sky, no coats were needed, the birds were singing and bees and butterflies were everywhere. We kept seeing a yellow Brimstone butterfly, was it 4 or 5 different ones or was it the same one each time?!
Some of the camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons were such huge shrubs, almost trees.
The lakeside was fed by a stream with numerous pools, tumbling down the hillside. The Gunnera are just beginning to start their growth where they will form huge umbrella like leaves.
When I saw the sign with an arrow pointing to Fritillaries I’m sure you would understand that I got quite excited, but they were all white – do they get rid of any with purple flowers?
I only saw about 5 purple fritillaries, so was a little disappointed. I know if buying the bulbs, the white ones cost quite a bit more than the purple ones, but I think the two colours look so nice together, also you can see the chequered pattern on the purple ones but it doesn’t show up on the white ones. By scattering my seed, I get a few white ones in amongst the purple, so that keeps me happy.
The present day Haldon Grange has a wonderful setting, benefitting from the wonderful garden that was left after the original house was demolished.
Seeing so many gorgeous Magnolias has made me determined to squeeze one in here somewhere. Having so many huge trees here, it will be a problem where to put one, but I’m sure I can find a spot somewhere.
We had a lovely cup of tea at the side of the lily pond, but no cake because we had a super piece of Easter cake before we left and had no room for more! The memorial remembers the members of staff who went off to the First World War and unfortunately didn’t return.
We had a wonderful afternoon out in glorious sunshine – it was perfect!