Burrow Farm visit in East Devon

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Burrow Farm Lake 1970

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Burrow Farm Lake Today

My wife and I recently revisited Burrow Farm Gardens in East Devon, not far from where we are now living  Although we have been to this magnificent garden many times before, we never tire of the peaceful surroundings, the wonderful views over the Devon countryside and the ever-changing plants, trees and shrubs brought together so lovingly by the owner, Mary Benger.

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Present Day View Over Axe Valley

Present Day View Over Axe Valley

It all began over 50 years when the land was used for dairy farming by Mary and her husband, John.  On their land was a tree, a large field maple rising out of the undergrowth and surrounded by wild flowers.  That tree, rather old, and somewhat gnarled, is still standing today.

Mary Benger and MichaelMary saw that tree and had a dream.  She wanted a piece of the land to call her own, to develop her hobby and love of gardening, and perhaps some day to be able to make her garden available to the public.  Mary had the courage, conviction and somehow the energy to follow her dream, all at the same time as raising four children, an amazing lady.

The garden has grown spectacularly and now covers 13 acres.  Her children are now adult and share her passion for the garden.  Her grandson, Michael, is very happy to follow in his grandmother’s footsteps and was a very professional and knowledgeable guide taking me to attractive visual points on the garden landscape and to see important trees and plants.

Acer - Burrow Farm

Acer shirasawanum Aureum (prev Acer japonica Aureum

Horticulture of note were the superb ericaceous Rhododendron family including the wonderful fragrant deciduous Azaleas.  A very aged Acer campestre (Wood maple) and a giant Oak which benefits the soil which is neutral but with the fallen oak leaves allows these acidic plants to grow surprisingly well.  A very large ash tree very well shaped made it a key feature overlooking the lower slopes of the garden, a rarity to see such an interesting version of a very common tree.

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Cornus kousa Chinensis

The pond has developed beautifully as you can see from comparison photos with a good range of eco plants and insects and pond animals.

The millennium garden was designed well against the background of the  deep flowing valley in East Devon with a large successful perennial garden adjacent.

Wild Flower Meadow

Burrow Farm Wild Orchid

I was lucky enough to speak to be able to speak to both Mary and Michael, who gave me a tour around the garden on the day of our visit.  There were many colourful rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom.

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Busy volunteer

There are now several part-time workers as well as some volunteers who are lucky enough to work at Burrow Farm.  Mary tells me that some of the volunteers, who were sponsored by a charity for disadvantaged people, have found a great peace in her garden, and found that their lives had turned around and they were now able to cope with outside pressures and make a living in the ever growing world of horticulture.

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Superb gardens to walk and relax

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Enkianthus cernus f ‘Rubens’ a superb ericaceous flowering shrub origin Japan

Burrow Farm will always remain one of my favourite places to relax, chill out and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  If you are in the area do pay them a visit, you will be warmly welcomed, there are refreshments available in a delightfully constructed covered naturally built cafe, a small shop and plants on sale and a modest entrance fee.       Tony Arnold ACIHort

European Water Vole.Thks for pic sent by James C and Family from Western S Mare UK

Wildlife special 

This picture has just been sent in i’m glad to say .The European water Vole (Arivicola amphibus) is a semi aquatic rodent .water voles have rounder noses thick brown fur,chubby faces ,short ears but unlike rats have hair covering on tails paws,and ears .

Editors note. Water voles are very shy ,the last time we saw one was in a stream adjoining our garden and i didnt have time to take a photo ,so very glad we had one sent in .