A quiet pool in the Pottager Garden at Rosemoor
A quiet pool in the Pottager Garden at Rosemoor

The gardens at Rosemoor came about as the result of measles! The story goes that in 1959 the owner of the property, Lady Anne Berry, caught measles from her children. While recuperating in Spain she met the respected gardener Collingwood Ingram, who encouraged her to begin her own garden, and gave her plants to begin the project.

To her original plantings Lady Anne added specimen plants collected on her travels around the world, each carefully labelled. In 1990 Lady Anne gave the gardens to the Royal Horticultural Society, which has administered them ever since.

The RHS added a formal garden, cottage and herb gardens, a foliage and plantsman's garden, and much more. There are Mediterranean and semi-tropical areas, as well as a Winter Garden, and a very fine collection of roses.

There are now 3500 varieties of plants at Rosemoor, including over 100 dogwoods and hollies. Special areas of interest include a scree garden, alpines, arboretum, water and bog plants. Rosemoor is the Regional centre for the Royal Horticultural Society, and the RHS runs a series of guided walks, lectures, and demonstrations throughout the year.


I came to Rosemoor late on a grey and cloudy summer day. Very late. The woman at the ticket desk was very concerned that I didn't have enough time to properly enjoy the gardens, it being 75 minutes until closing time. That gives you some idea of just how much there is to see at Rosemoor. I was worried that she wasn't going to let me in at all, but in the end, she decided to charge me a children's rate because I only had a bit more than an hour to explore the gardens. Whew!

Let me tell you that 75 minutes was not nearly long enough to truly enjoy this remarkable garden. Technically I did visit every area of the garden, but there truly is so much to see and enjoy that you will want to go slow and savour as you go, not rush.

A quiet garden bench
A quiet garden bench

Below the modern visitor centre are the newest areas of the gardens, a large rectangular area divided by clipped hedges into unique garden rooms, including a winter garden, Spiral Garden, and Queen Mother's Rose Garden.

The highlight for me was the astonishingly colourful Hot Garden. This is composed of a raised terrace looking over an area of plants with a red, yellow, orange, and purple colour, set against a background of trees and shrubs in dark purple and yellow.

Another highlight was the Cottage and Pottager Garden areas, with curving paths linked to a thatched garden house and a lovely pool where lily pads are watched over by rows of poppies.

The lower formal gardens lead to a woodland walk and a small lake, with another trail joining a path that goes under the nearby road to the original garden laid out by Lady Anne. The first delight in Lady Anne's Garden is a Rock Gully area where a half-hidden waterfall tumbles down into a small pool.

Trails lead on to a bog garden, arboretum, and two of my favourite areas, a Mediterranean Garden and Stone Garden. The former was designed by Lady Anne on the site of the old tennis courts and feature plants suitable;e for Mediterranean climates including those from California and Australia. Beside this area is the Stone Garden, where stone paths and walls help define a space for dry climate plants.

These are just a few of the highlights at Rosemoor, which has quickly become one of my favourite gardens in the south west. Now all I have to do is make sure I give myself more time to savour the gardens next time!

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About Rosemoor
Address: Great Torrington, Devon, England, EX38 8PH
Attraction Type: Garden
Location: 1 m SE Great Torrington, on A3124
Website: Rosemoor
Email: rosemooradmin@rhs.org.uk
Location map
OS: SS488 187
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


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