Monday, August 01, 2011

A Mini Holiday in Devon

Mark and I have just got back from a few days down in Devon staying with friends in the delightful coastal town of Exmouth.  Lucien and Laura also have an exotic garden, and are blessed with a slightly more favourable climate than us, being that bit further to the south west and being close to the warming influence of the sea, although like the rest of the UK they also had one of the coldest winters that they had known.

The lush planting blurs the boundaries and provides lots of privacy from all of the nearby houses. When in the garden you can no longer tell that you're on a modern housing estate at all.

In raised beds taking extra winter protection from the garage, a number of palms that would be much more
tender for us work well in Devon.

Their garden is in a fairly small plot, however every single space is crammed full of plants, in a way that actually makes the garden feel a lot bigger than it really is. No usable space is left blank and even the Garage roof is home to a nursery area where hundreds of palm seedlings are growing.

A key theme is sustainability, with rainwater from the house roof being stored in huge containers, and then pumped further down the garden to where its needed. A small compost bin is squeezed in as well as a wormery - apparently the bananas love the "worm tea". Even the sun's energy is not wasted, as the rear of the house faces sun its been filled up with enough solar panels to be a net contributor back to the electricity company! Next time you get an electricity bill imagine how great it must be when it shows them paying you instead!

Each year they open the garden up for charity, unfortunately our visit didn't coincide with the open day but nearly £500 was raised for a children's charity.
No trip to Devon would be complete without Cream Tea! (left to right, Gaz, Lucien,  Laura and spider)
We made trips to a couple of local gardens and nursery's, which will no doubt feature in future blogs!
A short video of the garden



  1. Lucien and Laura have a beautiful garden. And where they live is DREAMY!

    I completely agree with what you said about a small garden seeming larger when it's packed with plants because you can't see the boundaries of the property. That's something I'm working on in our own garden.

    :: Bamboo and More ::

  2. Your friends' garden is enchanting - even in the pictures it looks as if one could lost in it, which speaks to how well the lushness hides the small overall size. Thanks for the lovely post, and I am looking forward to reading about the gardens and nurseries you visited!

  3. Wow, feels weird seeing our garden in blog form !

    Was great to see you both, and very happy how well you have captured our "enchanted" garden :D

  4. "net contributor back to the electricity company" - that's misleading, it will only have periods of exporting. Over a full year the house will still be a net importer of electric.

  5. Unfortunately one's neighbors are always "Too Close For Comfort" so to speak.Unless people have the cash flow to own more land.Which is easier said then done :( This way of crowding lots of beautiful exotic tropical plants is the way to go!
    You truly feel as you are transported to some exotic isle! Beautiful job! Mission accomplished!!
    This has always been my theory as well;)

  6. That's our aim too, a green garage roof and oodles of solar panels (if only they didn't cost so much upfront!!)
    Such a fabulous space.
    You've reminded me I have worm tea to empty and use!! Eek completely forgot...

  7. Your friends garden is so lush and all that wonderful foliage. You could pretend you were anywhere. I'm amazed when palms ad cordylines survive the last winter. I am just a teesny weensy bit envious....

  8. I thought your tropical back-garden was one of a kind. Is this style quite common in the UK?

  9. What a wonderful garden. You guys would have had a great time discussing plants and garden ideas I'll bet.

  10. The joys of a milder climate! It doesn't look as though they lost too much last winter though I heard that Exmouth was hit pretty badly.

  11. That is one amazing tropical reminds me of here(Florida)! It looks like they've managed to use up every bit of the space they have - lovely!

  12. Hi Gerhard, Exmouth is a lovely place, near the coast, usually milder and picturesque. I think you're already applying the same principles in your lovely garden :)

    It's a lush paradise College Gardener, they've done the garden really well. Will feature some of the places we visited in the next few days :)

    Thanks for popping round Lucien! Had a really lovely time and looking forward to visiting again very soon!

    Anonymous, from what we have gathered from our long chats about the solar panels, the contribution also depends on how many panels were fitted. Their consumption (and contibution to the grid) is already suggesting a 'net contribution back to the electric company'. We don't have them ourselves and don't wish to discuss that matter here, but if you have further opinions about it I suggest you go to a more appropriate site or forum about it.

    Roberta, I definitely agree :) Lucien and Laura regularly reads our blog and would be delighted to read your compliments. I'm glad you enjoyed what they have accomplished in their plot :)

    Mrs. Bok, it is indeed a fabulous place :) A lovely garden to sit and relax too. I'm intrigued by the worm tea and based on their testimonial I'm convinced we must have a wormery too (so I can brew my own worm tea in the near future).

  13. What a lovely - and cleverly planted - garden. Great way to hide from the realities of living on a modern estate, which we do too. Good move to get rid of any lawn and fill the space with a jungle, the video makes it feel like and adventure wandering around it, must make it a great refuge from "real life". Thought cutting Gaz in half was a bit cruel though ;-)

  14. Hi b-a-g, we and Lucien have a common interest in exotic plants and gardening hence the similarity in the style of our gardens. There are several exotic and jungle style gardens dotted around the country and there is a still growing community of exotic plants enthusiasts. This style of gardening is still very uncommon and will remain a niche for quite some time, but as mentioned the community is still growing :)

    Hi Missy, Lucien and Laura will be delighted to read your compliment :) We did spend lots of time talking about the plants we mutually like, and it was a delight visiting other gardens with them. And ate lots of cake with them too!

    Indeed John :) Exmouth usually benefits from a milder microclimate with the exception last year when their area went down to -10C with plenty of snow, rather unusual for their location. The growing season seems to start earlier there though, together with most parts of the west country.

    It is indeed Kate, glad it reminds you of home too :) I admire the creative use of their space which made their garden look and feel bigger.

    I agree Janet, they’ve done really well with their planting. Contrary to common belief, having a lawn is actually high maintenance and sometimes replacing it with something else (like decking) is a better solution (and lower maintenance) and is just as lovely :)

  15. Having been, I totally agree they have one heck of alot crammed in, but it all looks so natural. Sadly mine will never be anything like theirs but we can dream.

  16. Thanks for all the comments on the garden :D

    Anon : How can you comment on solar without knowing the size of the system, or how much electric we use. Technically our annual use is more than we generate, but not by much. A slightly bigger roof (I know people with near double the size systems) and we'd be net exporting annually rather than just 8 months. The big thing with solar pv is the feed in tariff.

  17. great garden, so lush! but i especially love the fun mobile with the dangling figurines!


Thank you for taking the time to reply to our post, we love reading comments and hearing your views.

Due to the increased level of spam, please note comments on older posts are moderated and only published after approval. All new comments are read and any spam is deleted.