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Visiting the garden at Greenway

Visitors walking their dog in the garden at Greenway, Devon
Visitors walking their dog in the garden at Greenway, Devon | © National Trust Images/John Millar

From walled gardens to riverside woodland, the garden at Greenway is very relaxed and tranquil. Find out more about the Peach House, Fernery and Battery including where to find the best river views. See the family pet cemetery and find out why a small area of lawn is called Clock Golf.

Summer highlights

Greenway's relaxed woodland garden on the edge of the River Dart is the perfect place for a summer stroll. The woodland paths that drift down the hillside showcase glimpses of the river and offer dappled shade to escape the sun. Pause and admire the views as you get your breath back and see what wildlife you can spot.

Butterflies in the long grass

There are plenty of wild flowers at Greenway where butterflies can be spotted. Alongside the paths that lead from the house down to the Boathouse, long grass and wild flowers cover the banks, and at the Top Garden a sunny meadow drifts down the hillside. If you find a comfy spot and stay still for about 15 minutes you're bound to see some of these delicate creatures flying by. Look out for the common blue, painted lady, and red admiral butterflies.

Damselflies by the ponds

The Bird Pond is a great spot for wildlife watching. It's so named because of the Bridget McCrum statue of a bird that presides over the pond, rather than the birds which visit it. It's a great place to spot damselflies and the emerging toadlets of the common toads who laid their spawn there earlier in the year. Take a seat on the bench by the pond and see what you can spot.

Exploring the garden

The Peach House and The North Walled Garden

It's a mix of industry and leisure in the North Walled Garden, with a cut-flower garden and a restored Peach House. At 120ft long it's one of the longest in Devon. There are a number of varieties of peaches, apricots and nectarines grown here, and they're used in the café for seasonal recipes.

The South Walled Garden

Next to the North Walled Garden lies the Vinery and former productive garden, now filled with unusual plants left over from the commercial nursery that once operated from here. A large lawn with picnic benches makes this an ideal place to stop for a rest during your garden walk. There’s also seating inside the gazebo if you need to shelter from a rain shower.

It's also home to an allotment, which in the past has been cared for by the local primary school. Over the last two years, the garden team have been planting and harvesting the allotment, with everything from rhubarb to runner beans.

Clock Golf

The lawn tucked behind the walled gardens is named Clock Golf after the game Agatha and her family would play there. One of the beds is filled with one of Agatha’s favourite flowers, dahlias.

A small pond with a water fountain in the middle is surrounded by a path and banks of moss covered rocks in the fernery at Greenway. In the foreground can be seen five gravestones marking the burial places of the family dogs.
The Fernery at Greenway with the graves of family dogs in the foreground. | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

The Fernery

One of the most magical areas at Greenway is the Fernery behind the walled gardens. Dappled light and shade fall upon the fronds and the central water fountain creates an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. One of the more quirky aspects to the Fernery is the pet cemetery, where the family’s pet dogs are buried.

Top garden

A stroll to the top garden rewards you with year-round views over the river. Stand by the fence to the field at the edge of the garden to admire the River Dart down towards Kingswear and Dartmouth.

The Battery and Boathouse

A walk around the garden isn't complete without visiting the Battery on the water’s edge, which was built as a Napoleonic defence in the 1790s. Just along from there is the Boathouse, which was the scene of the crime in the Poirot mystery 'Dead Man's Folly'. You can enjoy views of the river from the balcony and potentially spot some of Greenway's river-dwelling wildlife.

Visitor inside the Boat House at Greenway, Devon
Visitor inside the Boat House at Greenway, Devon | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Path closed

Please note the path between the Battery and Camellia Garden is closed. This is due to a broken wall along the riverbank, which requires substantial repair work. The Camellia Garden can be accessed via the path in front of the house.

Camellia Garden

Camellias flower throughout the garden from late autumn onwards; Greenway is even home to an historical Camellia Garden which you’ll find if you follow the path to the right at the front of the house. This secluded walled garden by the river is one of the oldest parts of the garden and used to house an aviary, the remains still visible. Camellias flower here from late February until April.

In 2022 the garden team began a restoration project in the Camellia Garden. There has been hard pruning and laurel clearance work to open up views to the river, and restore this area of the garden into its former glory. Now a brand new wooden arbour seat has been installed, providing the perfect spot to sit and watch the river drift by.

Croquet Lawn and air raid shelter

Tucked next to the house is the Croquet Lawn and air raid shelter. A splash of summer colour with glimpses of river views makes this an ideal spot for a relaxed round of croquet. Among the flowerbeds lies a remnant of the Second World War. Built below ground, stone steps lead down into the small, enclosed air raid shelter left over by the US Coast Guard when they requisitioned Greenway in 1944.

Wildlife watching

The Boathouse and Battery are the best spots for wildlife watching. The River Dart is home to and visited by lots of birds; buzzards, cormorants, egrets, and guillemots are often seen. When the Boathouse is open, there are binoculars inside to aid your wildlife watching and there is a wildlife-spotter board where you can write up what you've seen. On the edge of the garden, not far from the Battery and Boathouse, is the largest heronry on the River Dart and herons often nest at the edge of the Greenway garden.

Two creatures which create great excitement when spotted from the Boathouse are seals and kingfishers.

Young gardeners

Head to the top of the South Walled Garden to see the allotment area which has traditionally been looked after by the local school. Pupils from Galmpton Primary School tended to an allotment in the Walled Garden as part of their work looking at sustainability.

During the spring and summer you’ll easily see what crops the children are growing. Varieties normally include broad beans, potatoes and carrots. There is even an edible flower section which includes nasturtiums and chives.

Questions about the garden?

You could drop the garden team an email if you have any questions about Greenway garden, or would even like some advice about your own patch.
Contact the garden team with your questions.

The River Dart is in the foreground with a tree-lined riverbank behind and Greenway House seen through the trees high on the hill in the background.

Book your parking

You don't have to book your visit in advance, but if you are travelling by car you will need to book parking at Greenway. You can book for today up until 8am. Every Thursday time slots will be available for the next 14 days.

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