The day of our annual Friends of Radipole Park and Gardens coach trip started with wall to wall sunshine.
An excited group waited patiently for our coach to arrive, we were off to sunny Devon to visit two very different gardens.
Once all were counted safely aboard off we set, our friendly coach driver, Alan introduced himself and did the usual safety talk that now seems obligatory on any means of transport.
Time for just a quick comfort stop at Exeter services, chance of a cuppa and dash to the loos before heading back to the coach and onwards to our first destination, Torre Abbey Gardens.
Here we were personally met by Ali Marshall, its very passionate head gardener (and often the only gardener!) who took the group on a guided tour of these delightful grounds set within the romantic ruins of a 12th century abbey.
It was interesting to hear how their story mirrored some of our own in that they were revived by means of funding from the Heritage Lottery and that they rely on their Friends group for hands on volunteers and fund-raising.
In the Agatha Christie themed garden people hung on Ali’s every word as she explained the links between it’s potent plants and the crime writer’s deadly plots, whose victim’s nearly always fell foul of one poison or another.
One or two of the group began to look nervously around wondering if maybe their spouses love of certain plants maybe had more nefarious motives.
Off to the large palm house…
…with its colourful exotic contents, and Brugmansia’s the size of trees that made my own one’s look positively puny in comparison.
After the tour there was time for a leisurely mooch and a spot of plant buying before we were carefully counted back onto the coach and off to our next destination.
With a few glimpses of the planes from Torbay Air Show as we drove along the Devon coast, it wasn’t long before we were winding our way down some pretty narrow country lanes.
Driver Alan though took it all in his stride, even when we reached a VERY narrow gate to enter the premises, eye and needle springs to mind as he manoeuvred his way through, aided and abetted by Dave with nary a scrape on gateposts or coach.
After a bit of the niftiest coach parking ever in a confined space, which earned Alan a round of applause, and off we bundled to explore the delights of the Coleton Fishacre, a 1920’s house built in the Arts and Craft Style.
What can I say, this place was my loves personified, Art Deco and dark foliage.
Our party dispersed in all directions and spent their afternoon wandering its beautiful house and grounds.
Out came my trusty notebook to add a few more plants to my ‘must have’ list.
Loving the foliage of this Eucomis Sparkling Burgundy. (Sadly, when it’s in flower the only thing that its scent brings to mind is the aroma of cooked cabbages and kitchens after a roast dinner has been consumed.)
The bright foliage of Geranium Anne Folkard set against a dark leaved Heuchera, always a winning colour combination in my eyes.
Never did find the name of this plant but looked stunning in front of the dark leaved Aeonium Schwarzkoph.
Nestled in a valley on a warm day and the sweet scent from the roses filled the air.
Some people took advantage of the rill’s chill to cool themselves down.
Beautiful borders brimming with wildlife.
I don’t think we could have timed our visit better, the place was positively zinging with the colours, scents and sounds of summer.
Last minute dash to the garden shop and our gaggle of happy gardeners staggered back to the coach with their purchases.
Once again, trip organise, Dave Cave, counted his flock safely back on board and after the umpteenth check just to make sure, gave Alan the all clear to set sail.
Driving back through Devon and Dorset’s stunning countryside in the soft evening light was just the icing on that day’s delectable cake.
Despite our gardening filled day and very tired feet it was chatter and laughter all the way home, added to by the fun of a raffle run by Andy who swore blind as he relieved us of our pennies that every ticket was winner!
All in all it was a cracker of a day with the bonus of bagging a few more plants for the garden.
(though I think our poor old tour organiser Dave must have been counting folk in his sleep that night.)
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