The position of Bridget McCrum’s seven-acre garden is no less spectacular than Little Dartmouth Farm, which we visit later. Instead of the English Channel, it looks across the Dart estuary, with steep, thickly-wooded banks plunging down to the river. The house, originally an 1837 woodman’s cottage, stands on the south side of the river, with the garden, the passion of Bridget’s late husband, Captain Robert McCrum, rising up behind the house to merge into the trees. Bridget’s sculptures are inspired by the landscape of the Dart estuary and the flights of birds below her house, their positioning throughout the garden was a collaborative decision taken between Bridget and her husband. Paths and steps link a yew and box-hedged enclosure to terraces below the house where the borders are filled with Fuchsias, Rogersias, Salvias, Perovskia and Acers, Cornus and Hydrangeas in profusion. A stream running down the hill, is planted with Gunnera, ferns and bamboos. Further down towards the river open lawn is balanced by thickets of Rhododendrons and plantings of orchard trees.
Little Dartmouth Farm
Edward and Sally Benthall
In 2005 Edward and Sally Benthall bought Little Dartmouth Farm, with its 300 acres, looking over the sea on the South Devon coast. They began the award-winning restoration and remodelling of both farmhouse and outbuildings and engaged Dan Pearson to design the garden and oversee the landscaping. Biodiversity and sustainability were key priorities; rainwater is harvested, compost heaps abound and, as the design started on the periphery and worked inwards, native hedges and trees were planted, blending the garden into the landscape. In front of the house the garden is kept very simple; borders of clipped Phillyria, Erigeron and Phlomis beside the terrace, further on mown and long grass, trees and a pond, beyond these the encompassing views of the sea. Sally had the inspired idea of removing the roof of one farm building to create a sheltered walled garden behind the house, now filled with Euphorbia mellifera, clipped Griselinias, Magnolias underplanted with, among much else, Panicum, Rosa mutabilis and Dierama. Terraced above this walled garden is a vegetable garden and beyond that orchards. This is a garden that points the way forward for gardening; respecting its environment, responding to the seasons, sustainable and, above all, enchanting.