Buckfast Abbey

 

I regularly drive past the sign for Buckfast Abbey, a place I hadn’t visited since I was a child fifty years ago. A return visit was long overdue.

abb1Benedictine monks first arrived there in the early 11th century, but the monastery was destroyed in 1539, during Henry V111th’s dissolution. In 1882 a group of French Benedictine monks settled there and a slow rebuild began.

This is what happened next.

abb10What an achievement.

abb2Impressive doors.

Once inside, initially I was distinctly underwhelmed, until I stopped comparing it to the Cathedral in Exeter. abb9The vaulting is different but interesting.

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A beautiful screen.

And some pretty chapels.

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Buckfast is a peaceful place, the part that filled me with joy was an amazing stained glass area, where photography was not allowed. I’d go back just to see that again. I did manage to buy a postcard of part of it, glass

But you will get a better idea here.

Now, once I went outside to the gardens, I really started to enjoy Buckfast. There’s a lavender garden, but it was past it’s best, as well as a sensory and a physic garden.

So this is Buckfast, a tranquil place to spend and hour or two. They have a restaurant and gift shop, as well as a conference centre. Visiting, and parking is free, so if you’re driving along the Devon Expressway why not call in?

I’m tempted to link to Jo’s Monday walk, because I didn’t sit down for a couple of hours even if i didn’t walk very far, and I don’t think she’ll tell me off!

 

Wildside, the Bit in the Middle

Last week I posted about a quick visit to Buckland Abbey and hinted that I went somewhere else, between munch stops there. As well as Buckland, just two miles away is the beautiful Garden House, a long time favourite of mine. It was created by Keith Wiley, and considered one of the most innovative gardens in Britain. Keith left the Garden House behind twelve years ago, but he didn’t go very far, Wildside, along with Buckland and the Garden House form a trio of must see gardens, within three miles.

With his wife, artist Ros Wiley, Keith has taken a few acres of field and transformed it into a paradise filled with plants from close to home and around the world. The garden has a naturalistic style, and aims to allow plants to thrive as they would in the wild. They began by developing the lower garden.

It looks so mature, you’d never believe it’s only been twelve years.

The upper garden and the transitional areas are still being worked on, but of course a garden is never finished anyway.

I’m afraid it was a rainy day, I was holding my camera and an umbrella and both wobbled around, so my photos don’t do the garden justice. I’ll just have to go back again!

The garden is only open a few days each year, and they have a few plants for sale. My eyes feasted on a little Molly the Witch peony, I brought it home and hope I can keep it alive. Keith and Ros were there and happy to chat, I asked how many people they have helping them. The answer, none, they’ve done it all on their own, a remarkable feat.

I’d highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area at the right time, and I intend to watch the future developments of this glorious floral canvas.

The Beginning and End of a Garden Day

Last Sunday my friend picked me up to take me for a birthday trip. It was a very grey day, and the direction we took meant that the forecast rain was inevitable. It was quite odd to be in the passenger seat, Sue isn’t an enthusiastic driver so I’m usually behind the wheel even in her car. This is the road across Dartmoor.

Dartmoor roadIt doesn’t look promising does it?

Our actual destination doesn’t have any café facilities, and it was already 11.45 so we stopped off at Buckland, for coffee and halfsies on a piece of Bakewell tart.

beamsThe restaurant at Buckland has the most interesting old beams.

bucklandNational trust plant centres are always tempting but I knew there would be more interesting choices later on.

Now just play nicely together for a little while, because I’m not taking you where I went just yet, there are too many photos and I have to try to choose some okay ones from the endless blurred rainy day ones.

Three hours have passed and we’re back at Buckland, too late for a hot lunch or sandwich, but starving, thank goodness for a cheese and onion pasty! Then it’s outside for a stroll. It’s still grey but here are some cheerful stars.

dah1and a pretty garden wall and fence.

over the fence

with a very formal Elizabethan garden.

gardenThe last time I visited Buckland Abbey it was April and there wasn’t much to see in the garden at all. This time I mainly saw purple, pink and magenta.

Even around the corner in the border to the side of the Abbey.

border

Thank you Buckland for providing the contrast in the middle of my day!

An Overbecks Stroll

Overbecks is a small National Trust  property at Sharpitor, overlooking Salcombe in the South Hams. The house is Edwardian with a surrounding garden of about seven acres. It is named after it’s last private owner, Otto Overbecks. The house has a small museum, a collection of rather bizarre objects, some of which I’ll try to show you in a few days. The drive down to Overbecks isn’t one that I’d bother with for the house, but the garden is a sub tropical delight, surrounded by woodlands. To get there take the A381 as far as the hill leading down into Salcombe, and then pray that you don’t meet any vehicles along the way. The road goes down steeply with sharp bends big gaps between passing places, cars parked anywhere they can, before it climbs back up around hairpin bends that give you white knuckles. This is coming from a Devon lass, who fearlessly drives narrow, winding lanes in the dark. Of course you might get lucky and not meet a soul! Parking is limited, but we were lucky, so we climbed the last quarter mile up the hill.

Where this view waited.

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Through the imposing wooden gate.
ob2And the first of many lovely paths opened up.

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But we won’t go down the steps to the lower garden yet, we’ve had a long drive and need some refreshments. This is the view from the café.

ob5I really wanted to sit in the conservatory.

ob4Can you see those legs stretched out between the plants? Well there were two very comfy seats, but every time I went past they were occupied, how rude!

ob6Let’s stretch our legs, gently of course, it’s too warm for dashing about.

ob10The planting is very exotic.

ob11Some lush bark for Meg.

ob12Something blue in the distance, but we’ll check that out later.

ob14I liked the look and feel of the stair rails.

ob15No I’m known for my wonky horizons, but honestly it wasn’t me, the silver pear trees were growing sideways.

ob20There’s one of several lawned areas up on the high garden. I failed to capture the true magenta colour of the gladioli’s, never mind, I can see it in my mind’s eye, and you can see how bright the sun was.

ovob21This lass is a lot more calm.

ob18Looking down over the wall there is a small, but very neat box garden.

ob24We walked on down to try to find it, but got waylaid in this sunroom.

ob25Surrounded by the banana garden.

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which of course had Datura’s as well. I should make the effort to call them Brugmansia, but is doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely does it?

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I could sit there all day, but there are lots more lovely plants to see, so off I stroll.

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Up another flight of steps,

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to the highest point and the best view.

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Some more exotica on the way down for ice cream, Salcombe Dairy Honeycombe, it would be rude not to.

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I still didn’t get to sit in here!

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So it’s back down the lane, past the Acer glade.

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I probably only strolled a mile and a half around Overbecks, but I think Jo would like it there and happily share the walk. If you come to Devon and like the idea of visiting Overbecks, I’d go on a weekday during school term, the last couple miles of road should be a lot easier.