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Visiting the garden at Knightshayes

A family walking along a path in a wood with lush green planting
Visitors in the gardens at Knightshayes | © National Trust Images/Tony Cobley

Lose yourself in the garden at Knightshayes, home to one of the most extensive plant collections to be found in the care of the National Trust. With a walled kitchen garden, terraces, Paved Garden and the Garden in the Wood, there is plenty to see all year round. Relax in the south garden, or take a spring walk around the bulb meadow.

Knightshayes' formal and woodland garden

The formal and woodland garden is divided into eight separate areas. These become less structured and more informal as you move further from the house.

Head to the formal garden for views across the parkland, and look out from the raised terraces in the kitchen garden across the vegetable beds to the trees that surround it.

Signs of spring

Spring is the time of the year when the frost fades away, but fresh air remains, flushing away those wintery cobwebs and revealing signs of new fauna and flora.

Colour aplenty

The lawns reveal a carpet of colour as crocus pop up all throughout the garden. There's also an abundance of daffodils and hyacinths as you walk along the paths around the garden. Keep your eyes peeled for snowdrops which have almost finished flowering, as well as bluebells injecting new colour to the beds beneath trees.

Camellias of all colours

Take a camellia walk around the garden. There's a whole range of colours and varieties of camellia in the plant collection at Knightshayes, be prepared to keep your eyes peeled for a display all around the garden.

Michael's Wood

Through this part of the garden, you'll be able to see a number of rhododendrons bursting into life, with plenty of buds ready to flower. Be sure to spot the 'rhododendron falconeri' and 'grevillea rosmarinifolia jenkins'.

Sir John's Wood

In this area of the garden, there's a range of Pieris, with the 'pieris japonica' already blossomed into its fiery colour, and the 'peiris formoca'. There are also many snowdrops and bluebells in the wood during the winter and spring.

Holly's Wood

In early spring, you can't miss the magnolia along this wide grassy area. It's a great place to take a picture, with a view over the pool garden and Tiverton. Later in spring, this area is edged with vivid purple rhododendrons.

Garden in the Wood and South Garden

In these areas, you'll spot a delicate cherry blossom ready to flower, and plenty of jolly, colourful hellebores.

A gardener pushes a wheelbarrow of heritage tomatoes along a path next to a wall of the kitchen garden at Knightshayes, Devon
Gardener pushing a wheelbarrow of heritage tomatoes at Knightshayes, Devon | © National Trust Images/Liz Abdey

The terraces

With far-reaching views across the parkland towards Tiverton and the Heathcoat factory, the view is framed by a Cedar of Lebanon, which grows on the site of the earlier house's kitchen garden.

Originally planted as a rose garden, all that remains of this 19th-century scheme is the formal paving and traces of the old beds in the grass.

Now you can see deep herbaceous borders, yew hedges enclosing trefoil-shaped beds and a planting scheme of soft colours, beloved by Lady Heathcoat Amory.

The Paved Garden

The Paved Garden is a more intimate garden, full of soft purples and greys during the spring and summer months. Stop for a while and relax on a bench or enjoy the collection of herbs and colourful bulbs growing in the flower beds during the warmer months.

The Garden in the Wood

A diverse mix of dark and intimate trails, leading to spacious sunlit glades. Take in views over the garden or rest in the Cedar House, built to celebrate the completion of the garden. This area of the garden is at its best in the spring and autumn.

Part of garden in the wood at Knightshayes. A grass sunlit path winds through borders planted with acers and trees and under planted with bluebells.
Garden in the wood | © Liz Abdey

The arboretum

Take a walk around the arboretum, full of impressive mature oak and towering conifers providing height and grandeur. Look out for the sequoia trees which can grow to become some of the tallest in the world. The arboretum is also home to the bulb meadow, which flowers between March and June.

Knightshayes' South Garden

Relax in the open and sunlit South Garden, full of exotic trees including Japanese cherries. Take in the sweeping views of Knightshayes framed by a lawn full of colourful wild flowers in summer. This part of the garden is best visited during summer and spring.

Knightshayes' kitchen garden

The one-hectare (2.5-acre) walled kitchen garden, complete with fairy-tale turrets, is home to a vast collection of crops. These are now almost extinct, including 102 varieties of heritage tomatoes.

Whichever month you visit the kitchen garden there’s always plenty to see, from an abundance of rhubarb to plentiful pumpkins for Halloween.

Using the garden's produce

Unusually for a restored garden, all the produce grown at Knightshayes is harvested and used. Despite its ornamental presentation, it’s a working kitchen garden.

The fruit and vegetables that are grown supply the local Pannier Market in Tiverton for around seven months of the year, as well as local food charities

The exterior of the house at Knightshayes with the garden in front

Discover more at Knightshayes

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