I absolutely love this place! I first visited with my friend one late December afternoon in 2013, just before going off to see the Norman Lockyer Observatory. We only saw the indoor section, and not even all of that, so I didn't get my camera out. I did buy some gorgeous heavenly scented white hyacinths, a garden trug and other nice things, but it wasn't until my next visit over a year later, in 2015, that I discovered the greenhouse and outside gardens. Which was when I decided to take some photos.
I say 'some' photos, but I ended up taking a lot over several visits. That's because the first film I took went awol after being processed. I eagerly looked at my prints upon collection, only to discover that they were someone else's photos, so having returned them I had to wait for five weeks before mine were tracked down. Meanwhile, I took more of the same views...just in case! Which is why some were taken on a sunny day and others on a misty one.
It's deceptively like Dr Who's Tardis here. Just when you think you've seen everything there are more winding paths opening up to whole hidden sections. It was only after several visits that I found the arboretum hidden behind the end of a slalom course between piles of pots (photo below).
The current owners took over the garden centre in 2001. Since then they added the main shop, replaced the old greenhouse and tarmac'd the car park. I don't know what it was like before then but it may have been quite a basic garden area, as I have passed by many times on the bus coming back from Exeter but only noticed it after the changes.
Sadly, the announcement that it was to be sold to Wyevale Garden Centres was made in October 2015. Not sure, but I think they took over in 2016. It's not quite the same; it doesn't have the same atmosphere and the queues for service are a lot longer, although many of it's good qualities still remain.
Part of the arboretum can be seen from a fab terrace outside the restaurant (above). Despite having a snack and a cuppa on most visits, we didn't realise the terrace was accessible until a much later visit, otherwise we might have realised that there's more to the gardens than meets the eye.
And amongst the trees are giraffes. Not native to Devon, of course! ;)
And finally, a photo showing the unassuming entrance to the 'Tardis', and it's beautiful location.
Lots more photos in the Photo Gallery album, along with these. And, if I visit this Christmas, I'll take more in lieu of the ones I missed on my very first visit.