Once part of Blackmore House, which no longer exists, the gardens were taken over by the Urban District Council in 1952 and subsequently made into a public park, retaining much of it's original walls and horticulture.
I'd often walked past during my visits to Sidmouth and was quite intrigued by some of the features, notably the very old walls, and other interesting things that I could see in the distance. A week before Christmas in 2011 I had some time to kill whilst waiting for films to be processed, so I had a wander in.
Looking from the other side of the gates, above, I was rather pleased to capture a seagull in the photo...even though it looks more like a flying handkerchief!
Palms aren't indigenous to Britain, but we do have a lot of them on the South-West peninsular, thanks to those intrepid explorers who brought seeds and plants back from their travels abroad. The climate is sub-tropical, therefore palms thrive here and are very much a part of our coastal and town scapes now.
One of the more unusual features, I was enchanted by this wonderfully quirky wall post.
Below; a palm that looks as if it's growing from a giant pine cone, presumably caused by the outer palm fronds dying off and being cut back. The tiles look quite old and may have been part of the original garden, now used as a very pleasant seating area with wooden benches.
Next to that is a glasshouse. From the outside it looks like the kind of modern conservatory that often gets tacked onto the back of houses to create an extra room. Inside however, it's rather lovely with it's tiled floor and interesting plants.
An interesting piece of rock in the centre of a pool, which I suspect acts as a flowing fountain but it wasn't switched on during my visit and the pool was almost dry.
Below is a cottage garden created in the corner outside, with a fake door and shuttered window. It's quite nice but not really very cottage-gardeny. The brick path and weathered wall is almost authentic but the planting is more municipal than rural, and that door canopy is just horrible to my mind.
Below is a wonderful avenue of pleached trees, pleaching being a technique of weaving the branches of trees together to form a hedge. I'm glad I saw them in the winter, as the bare branches make such lovely shapes.
Below, looking through the branches.
Another original remain is this delightful wall, below (photo taken on a further visit the following Spring). As well as for enjoyment, the gardens would have provided for the household too, and this type of wall may have been used for training fruit trees against; probably plum or even peach. It may also have been used for keeping the kitchen gardens separate from, and out of sight of, those walking in the garden for pleasure. That's just my own conjecture however, and it may have been merely for creating garden 'rooms' so that not all of the garden is revealed at once.
And finally, a look across the lawn with the wintry shadows of the trees. An altogether enjoyable visit. As well as a place to walk, sit and enjoy, it's also one of the venues used during the Sidmouth Folk Week and other events. Personally, I love it quiet like this, but it must be fun with outdoor music and dancing too...something to remember in the Summer, when I might make a point of coming along during the festivities!
More photos can be seen in the Photo Gallery album, along with these.