Mother’s Day came early.

Mother’s Day came early to this household, on Saturday instead of Sunday. We went to Docton Mill Garden in north Devon, which is quite famous for its daffodils, had a good look round the garden and then had an absolutely gorgeous lunch there too!

Docton Mill

The ancient mill house is tucked away in the bottom of a valley near to the village of Hartland. Because of its closeness to the sea, the garden hardly ever experiences frost and escapes the worst of the south westerly gales because it is sheltered by the surrounding tree covered hills.

Mill wheel

The mill and it’s ajoining leat, weir and terrace have been traced back to Saxon times, before the Norman conquest of 1066. It is thought that a more likely date for the mill is AD 901, built after the death of King Alfred, when the area became more settled and prosperous, there would then be plenty of farmers bringing their grain to be milled.


The garden was started in 1930 but fell into disrepair in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s the mill was renovated and the gardens redesigned and extended to the present 9 acres. Lots more work was done in the 1990’s by the previous owners and the present owners are designing  new areas to make it more of a year round garden rather than just a spring garden.


This was the sight that greeted us at the entrance, daffodils as far as the eye could see.


They looked lovely under the trees, on the shady slope where apparently badgers live.


As we were nearing the mill, we were met by 2 lions guarding the entrance, but just look at his coat!


Such a fantastic mossy coat, it really looked as if you could stroke it but wasn’t willing to try it, thought I might fall into the mill pond!


The garden walk starts outside the Mill house and goes straight up the hill for the woodland walk. Looked at it and wondered if I would make it to the top, but stopping to photograph Camellias on the way made it easier!!


Yes, I did make it to the top, was amazed at how the old muscles coped with all the steps. Everywhere up there was covered with bluebell leaves, it will look wonderful in about another month, beautiful blue everywhere.


All the time we were in the garden, there was non-stop noise from the rookery in the tops of the trees. The noise was deafening, I couldn’t help but think of my last post complaining about 1 pheasant waking me up in the morning. There must have been between 20 and 30 rooks flying about calling to each other, I promise I won’t complain about my pheasant again!


On the way down from the woodland walk we found loads of hellebores


Lovely plum coloured double ones looking absolutely gorgeous.


We then walked over to the sunnier side of the garden by the River Speke where we found loads of these primulas.

Daffs and tulips

A few Daffs and tulips beside the stream.


More daffs by the stream.


A very well pruned Chaenomeles, it was a round ball!

River Speke

We crossed the River Speke a few times on very small bridges, the water was running very fast due to lots of rain overnight.


At last, masses of Narcissus that we had come to see.


Everywhere we looked there were loads more to enjoy under the trees.


The trees here are all covered in lichen because of the very clean atmosphere, this makes them look really old somehow but they are only 20 or so yrs old.

Mill leat

The mill leat which feeds the mill pond and is controlled by sluice gates.

Drumstick primulas

I’ve put this in to remind me to move my Drumstick primulas to a more boggy position, theirs are twice the size of mine and are in a much wetter soil.


A last look at the narcissus before we go inside the mill house for our fantastic lunch. Can’t believe I didn’t take a photo of my Mother’s Day lunch before I ate it – it looked absolutely wonderful – you will just have to take my word for it. I had a seafood platter, all the seafood caught locally just a mile away, prawns, mackerel, crab and smoked salmon with a beautiful side salad of chopped beetroot, celery, grapes, carrots and mixed leaves, it was a vision of pink, green and white, all topped off with a huge langoustine! Came home very happy and even having to drive back through some hail and sleet couldn’t spoil the day!!

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14 Responses to Mother’s Day came early.

  1. Rachael says:

    Love the lion! Am really pleased you were able to enjoy this garden, it sounds like you had a lovely time and it’s great news that you’re beginning to feel so much better xx

    • Pauline says:

      The lion is rather gorgeous isn’t he Rachael, moss makes the perfect soft coat! We did have a super day and it was made perfect by how much I was able to do.

  2. debsgarden says:

    You transported me to a piece of paradise! My dream garden, for sure, complete with fields of daffodils, a rushing stream, a charming cottage, and an old mossy lion to guard it all!

    • Pauline says:

      It really was a lovely place to visit Deb, we certainly enjoyed it! The old mossy lion looked as if he had been there for such a long time, but I’m sure it was just the shade and all the rain that they have, he was gorgeous!

  3. What a lovely day out! I am glad you enjoyed it so. The primroses and daffodils looked amazing. I liked your view of the mill leat also… such a pretty border.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you!

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks Julie and to you too! We had a lovely time with spring sunshine to make the flowers open and look wonderful, spring was certainly all around us with the birds nesting too.

  4. Alberto says:

    It seems you had a wonderful celebrations for mother’s day. That place is unbelievable, they have thousands of narcissus! Shame you didn’t take pictures of the food, you made me hungry reading the menu…

    • Pauline says:

      I was half way through my meal Alberto, when I realised I should have photographed it, such a shame because it really did look beautiful!! Yes, we had a super time and all the flowers were wonderful.

  5. Oh, I too am in love with the lion and his lovely ‘green’ fur coat. But the daffs, ooooh, so gorgeous.

    • Pauline says:

      So glad you like the lion Deborah, he was rather lovely, but don’t you think his face is rather human?! The daffs were a real treat, everywhere we looked in the sunnier half of the garden, there they were looking gorgeous!

  6. Tim says:

    Look at the coat on those Lions! What majestic specimens. I am so happy you enjoyed your well deserved early mothers day Pauline. I am sure you deserved every bit of it. Happy to hear you are feeling better.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Tim for your lovely comments, able to do a bit more in the garden each day, with plenty of cups of tea and coffee in between!! Really enjoyed my day out with all the daffodils and of course …..the lions!

  7. What a lovely day you must have had. I just love those moss covered lions! Some lions statuary can look mean, but this lion looks so passive that the moss has taken him over. Daffodils and narcissus are best planted in drifts aren’t they? Even hellebores benefit from the society of there fellows. Primroses are a spring favourite of mine. I only wish there were easier to grow here, but alas it is too dry in summer for them to be really happy here.

    • Pauline says:

      We had a super day Jennifer, thank you. I’m not surprised everyone loves the lions, they looked so cuddly !! I agree that plants look better in drifts, gradually I’m changing my planting here, more to drifts than just one of each plant. We have so much shade and damp soil here that growing primroses are now becoming a passion of mine, so many different varieties to enjoy!!

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