An exotic garden in Devon

I make several trips to SW England teach year to visit family and I always make time to catch up with very a good friend whilst I am in the area. Were it not for this lady, Shades of Green Garden Design would not have come into being as it was she who suggested that garden design might just be the perfect career change I was seeking…

Whenever I visit with a day to spare we always take ourselves off to see a garden. In her company I have been introduced to RHS Rosemoor and Coleton Fishacre (National Trust) and I have introduced her to the Hauser-Worth garden. In the past, when she lived in Surrey, we enjoyed RHS Wisley,  Sissinghurst (National Trust) and Great Dixter. This time, it was the gardens at Overbeck’s (National Trust) on the south Devon coast. A good gardening friend indeed!

Overbeck's graphic design

Jennifer Cooper Designs

Coming from Scotland, where I work with a restricted palette of ‘bomb proof’ plants, the range of sub-tropical exotics growing happily in the steep but sheltered terraces of the Overbeck’s garden was a sight for sore eyes. Many of the “What’s this?” and “Could I grown this in my garden?” questions had to be answered with a repetitive “I am not sure, but I will find out for you”! 

A few things caught my designer’s eye, and I didn’t get good photographs of all the exotics that were growing happily in this garden, but these are a few of the memories I took away with me: 


Stone terraces feature strongly at Overbeck’s and there were a few corner seating areas like this one around the garden

mossy stones

Lower down the slope, in the informal woodland area of the garden, there are some fabulous mossy stone outcrops

crevice garden

A bold take on crevice gardening

topiary ground cover

Box topiary ground cover – very effective on one of the high terraces next to the main lawn

olive tree

Fabulously gnarled olive tree – the garden hosts quite a number

Hydrangea villosa

Hydrangea villosa – wonderfully hairy stems and leaves with large flower heads (now senescing)- taller than me!

Clerodendron Bunge

Clerodendron bungei – another plant with ‘oooh’ factor but with a tendency to sucker, I gather

Yucca flower

I always love to see Yucca in flower – an exotic that survives even up in Scotland (with enough shelter)


Last but not least, nicely traditional signage for the facilities (and a lovely mossy wall beyond the gate)

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