Visiting the garden at Coleton Fishacre
Coleton Fishacre enjoys a climate as mild as South Cornwall, thanks to being nestled in a valley. As such, many exotic and tender plants thrive in the garden here. From formal terraces to woodland, the Coleton Fishacre garden is varied and filled with plants and wildlife to explore all year round. It's also a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) accredited garden.
As the days get shorter, the garden bursts with autumnal colour. From fiery red Japanese maples that line the stream to the impressive Persian ironwood and tulip tree turning golden, both of which have stood watch over the house since Coleton Fishacre was built. Thanks to the microclimate, autumn colour often stretches well into winter here.
Even in the depths of winter, there is a constant flow of colour to lift the spirit and senses. Some of the key flowering plants are the Australian fuchsia, grey-leaved euryops and Chinese quinine. See if you can spot some of the very early flowering daffodils in the garden, known to appear in December.
As the trees shed their leaves, the wide sea views open up even more and the hard landscaping of the garden, designed to complement the house, can be seen. Cold winter days are brightened with scented shrubs such as Daphne, honeysuckle and skimmia as they fill the upper garden with heady scents in December and January.
Named after Mr Kent, who was the site foreman when the house was built in the 1920s, Kent's Border has undergone a transformation in recent years. It's found at the top of the garden on the way down to the house. Evocative of the Arts and Crafts movement, the border has hedging, topiary, soft planting and plenty of colour.
The hedgerows also provide corridors that link different habitats and act as a refuge and home for the many creatures that call the garden home.
The Hot Border
In front of the house, the Hot Border is home to flowers in fiery shades of red and orange. They create a ‘firework’ effect of upward-pointing flowers, which blaze all the way from summer until late autumn. These were Rupert D'Oyly Carte's favourite colours, and he could see the border from his desk in the library.
The Rill Garden gets its name from the rill, a formalised section of the stream, that runs through its centre. The borders are planted with a mixture of hardy herbaceous and semi-tender perennials in pastel colours, which were Lady Dorothy's favourite. Her room overlooked this garden.
The terraces and walls around the house reflect the lines of the building. They're planted with tender, sun-loving plants and each terrace has a pool. The upper pool's rounded outline sets off an otter sculpture, created by local artist Bridget McCrum.
During the warmer months, the terraces and flower borders are filled with a variety of flowers. These are a great nectar source for insects like butterflies, moths and bees.
The stone used to build the house actually came from the quarry wall that sits below the gazebo. It was transported up the valley on railway tracks, which are now being put to use in the kitchen where they support shelves.
There are a few different spots around the garden from where you can soak up the sea views. Scout Point, the gazebo and the summerhouse, for example, all offer wide, sweeping vistas.
Coleton Fishacre's woodland is a mix of broadleaved trees and conifers. These provide shelter for tawny owls, great spotted woodpeckers and a whole host of other birds.
Dead wood and leaf litter are vital for insects and fungi, which is why you'll likely see log piles in the woodland near Scout Point.
The informal garden
The further down the valley, the more informal the garden becomes. At the bottom is the tree fern glade, where the stream trickles out to the coast and where hydrangeas flower in the summer.
There's also a gate that leads to the South West Coast Path, where you can take in views at Pudcome Cove and spot the old tidal pool that the D'Oyly Carte family used to use.
Wildlife in the garden
With its combination of flower borders, woodland, grassland and streams, the garden at Coleton Fishacre is home to many creatures throughout the year.
Butterflies, such as the marbled white and the common blue, are often found in areas of grassland around the edges of the garden in the warmer months. Voles and meadow grasshoppers also love these areas as do plants, such as ox-eye daisy, bird's-foot trefoil and betony.
Life around the stream
With the stream running down the valley and the nearby sea, many unusual trees and shrubs grow in the garden here.
Plus, the stream and pools are home to newts, dragonflies and toads. You may even see snakes and lizards on a sunny day sunbathing on a smooth rock.
A visit to Coleton Fishacre would not be complete without browsing the National Trust Shop or picking up a tasty treat from Café Coleton.
Find out about the D'Oyly Carte family and the history of their country home, Coleton Fishacre. Discover how the perfect spot was chosen while sailing their yacht.
Step inside the 1920s country home of the D’Oyly Carte family where Art Deco features, sea views and light and airy designs create an intimate atmosphere.
Discover five curious collection pieces from the house at Coleton Fishacre. Learn about each item and how it was used in the home.
Discover a host of activities at Coleton Fishacre to keep the whole family entertained and help you create memories together. What adventures will you have next?