A Delightful Trip to North Devon

An afternoon at Arlington Court.

Two weeks ago I enjoyed a break in North Devon. Given the cold snap that has followed, we timed our trip well and enjoyed bright days that weren’t too chilly – we even managed a spot of paddling!

While much of the trip was spent enjoying the coastline and the cream teas, we finished the weekend with a stop off at Arlington Court and a wander around the house, the carriage museum and most importantly the gardens.

Arlington Court gardens offer all you would expect from a National Trust day out, from sweeping parklands covered in snowdrops and the promise of daffs primed to appear, to formal gardens with careful symmetry and well clipped hedges. While we were a little too early to see it in all its glory, there remained much to enjoy as we explored.

We began in the hot house, filled with the scent of Jasmine, which made me very jealous as two years on and mine is yet to flower, let alone anywhere near as abundantly. There were also lots of lovely succulents potted up. I’ve come a little late to the succulent party. I’ve never grown any, beyond the occasional Flaming Katy popped into my trolley alongside the supermarket shop to brighten up my desk in work, but they are on my list for future purchases, so watch this space.

My favourite part of the day was discovering the kitchen garden which was quietly tucked behind the walled garden and the hot-house. I was very glad that J spotted the inauspicious doorway in the wall as there were lots of lovely ideas to steal for my own little garden as well as the added thrill of feeling a little like Mary Lennox about to uncover something special!

There were some lovely signs of growth beginning. From neat rows of seedling trays in the greenhouse and cold frames, to buds on trees and winter greens under netting. However, it was the structure of the garden and it’s bedding that interested me most. The uniform beds, freshly dug over and ready for planting, have sparked a new plan for the back corner of my own little plot (and a post on that will follow after few weekend’s hard graft are completed to see it through to completion).

I was also intrigued by the many ways they were working to keep their critters happy; there were small hideaways around the garden and lots of pruning and cutting back had clearly been left for spring to allow food and homes over the winter months. Most impressive was the veritable hotel they had crafted for all manner of beasties along the back wall and I’m thinking of little ways I can replicate some of their ideas at home. It was clearly paying off as the buzz of pollinators could be heard around the garden and we caught sight of our first bee of the year!

It wasn’t just the hot house that offered scent at this time of year, as one solitary rose was in bloom and the smell of roses is so evocative of the warmer days to come that it was a lovely little treat hidden in the arbour.

It, and the jasmine, made me think carefully about where I would place my scents around the garden this spring and summer. I have three roses, each along the right fence, a jasmine by the patio (which has been hit hard in the recent cold snap and I’m a touch worried about how it will recover) a honeysuckle along the back fence and a smattering of lavender in the beds. I’m keen to add to this humble collection and build more scents into the structure of the garden so that wherever you are something is catching your attention, so there may be a post on that to follow too as I get to planning!

The car journey home was certainly one full of planning and anticipation, little did I know then that the snow would come and put a temporary pause on those plans but it has now cleared and the weather, and the soil, are warming back up so I’ll keep you posted as to how I get on!

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