Beside the seaside

Spent a lovely weekend on or near the sea around Salcombe in South Devon. Have never been to this area before. And I have since found out it is the 26th most expensive place to live in the world,  hey ho! Sand, sea, boats and sun. Watching  silver blunt nosed Sea Bass feeding in shallow estuary waters and not feeling peckish.

Visited Keith and Ros Wiley’s Wildside garden in Buckland Monacorum after a gap of a few years,   still one of my most favourite gardens.  Biggest impressions were the tree wisterias (more of this anon),  and the courtyard area created around The Landscape Man TV series.  Came away with some nice epimediums,  a replacement large spotted orchid and a few other woodies. Do visit and take time to sit and look,  despite the fact it is still a work in progress it is special.

From Hill House Nursery at Landscove I came away with some  great tender plant bargains including a 3 ft Datura Grand Marnier and a 5ft Campsis radicans each for £5 and Clerodendron fragrans which has white flowers like a double geranium and highly scented.

Saw extensive nets of the parasitic plant Dodder threading red stemmed through the Gorse on part of the South West Coast Path. Milkwort and rich blue Sheep’s Bit Scabious  scattered alongside the path. Thrift in a subtly varied huge pink drift in a garden in Hope Cove. And above Hope Cove isolated patches of bluebells in amongst the long grass on a steep slope, creating the effect of a fine mist and a hiding place for  larks. Down in the woods the huge fresh crowns of fully unrolled Hart’s Tongue Ferns looked magnificent.

Foxgloves in very best silky fresh purple plumage. A few Early Purple orchids by the side of a main road mixing it with the white of Stitchwort and bursting pink Campion.  Swathes of various hued Valerian waving from the driest banks and walls. And Cow Parsley taking over the show from extensive patches of Smyrnium going to seed.

The only off note was the whole initial reason for the trip,  a visit to the Winking Prawn restaurant at the far end of Salcombe – I so wanted it to be good and I was so very disappointed by the total lack of customer service.  Bad Winking Prawn!

The walk to the Prawn though was punctuated with interesting shrubs overhanging the tall garden walls of the large mansions of Salcombe including Embothrium in full scarlet flower,  and  gardens stepping down to the sea reached by private bridges  across the road.  We pressed our noses to fences and peered over walls to appreciate these private gardens by the sea.

I also visited Coleton Fishacre in great anticipation,  which a few years ago wowed me with its exotic planting. Not so much so this time. OK I am more blase,  but dear National Trust please could you do a few more of your gardens stunningly brilliantly  rather than merely OK to good?