Mothecombe House, Holeton
Mr and Mrs Anthony Mildmay
Enchanting Mothecombe House, where we will visit both the house and garden, though built in 1710, looks like a perfect post-Restoration house. It sits in a deliciously sheltered valley surrounded by intimate walled gardens; a formal flower garden with borders crammed with Echiums and a terrace designed by Lutyens (who also added the dining room onto the south side of the house) and a kitchen garden designed to attract bees. Below the house, an orchard gives way to woodland gardens, filled with Camellias, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Pieris, Parottia and Cercidiphyllum which follow the course of a stream, through Gunnera-fringed pools, down to the sea.
Mrs Brian Howell and Mrs John Howell
The Victorian gothic house at Lukesland was built in 1862 as a hunting lodge. It now sits in the midst of a 24 acre woodland garden that has been tended by the Howell family since 1930. A stream, sometimes a torrent, rises on Dartmoor and flows through the garden in a series of ornamental pools and cascades. On either side lie the gardens, Victorian in origin though substantially replanted by the Howells over the last 80 years. The Rhododendrons and Azaleas are magnificent in the spring, likewise a spectacular Davidia involucrata on the bank below the house. Perhaps the most remarkable plant, in a garden filled with horticultural delights, is the vast, tree-sized, Magnolia campbellii which was planted near the stream in 1936. It will, sadly have flowered long before our visit.
Bickham House, Kenn, Nr Exeter
Mrs John Tremlett
The 17th century house at Bickham was given a deep, colonnaded veranda on two sides of the house as part of a Regency makeover. It stands, in a sheltered tree-clad combe, above its park with a timeless lake which, surprisingly, was dug out only recently by John and Julia Tremlett. There was no garden when Julia inherited apart from some good trees, shrubs and bulbs, now a seven-acre garden wraps comfortably around the back of the house. A terrace gives onto a long lawn with borders to one side, behind these the woodland garden of Camellias, Magnolias, Rhododendrons and a very tall Liriodendron is spectacular in the spring. A formal courtyard, with a central pool, lies behind the house and, beyond, the walled garden is still a hugely productive mixture of vegetable, fruit and flowers. A central path edged with Nepeta, leads the eye down the length of the garden to an avenue of Trachycarpus fortunei and a Millennium summer house.