Quiet Places, Gardens & National Trust Properties in South Devon
Coastal and country gardens in the stunning South West
Hidden away between Babbacombe and St Marychurch, Tessier Gardens is a delightful little park that was given to the town in 1933 by Mrs H A Tessier “for the use of adults only”. In the same year a ‘Sun Temple’ was constructed in the gardens, as recognition of her generosity. In 1975 a scented garden for the blind was planted with the botanical names of the plants etched in Braille on copper plates. In accordance with the covenants bestowed upon the council in 1933, children under the age of 18 are strictly not permitted in the park, however under 18’s are actively invited to use the park under adult supervision.
Royal Terrace Gardens
Royal Terrace Gardens, also known as Rock Walk, has undergone a major facelift with major structural works having been completed to secure the rock face behind the gardens before re-planting could begin.
There is a magnificent illuminated staircase leading to a viewing platform with spectacular sea views overlooking Torbay and walkways planted across the cliff face gardens. Royal Terrace Gardens are a key site on the English Riviera Global Geopark.
The pretty waterside Princess Gardens are a promenade lined with palm trees, well-manicured flowerbeds and an ornate water fountain.
The gardens take their name from Princess Louise, the then Princess Royal and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, who laid the foundation stone for the "pleasure ground" in May 1890. They are overlooked by the stunning Edwardian Pavilion at one end and in the middle by Torquay’s Princess Theatre. To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth, Torbay Council will dazzle the resort with themed red, white and blue flower displays to show the gardens at their very best.
Paignton Zoo Botanical Gardens
Plants are fundamental to the atmosphere and this is one of the reasons that Paignton Zoo is not just a zoological garden but also a botanical garden.
The gardens of Paignton Zoo consist of both mature shrubberies and new areas developed over the past 10 years. The new plantings are mainly designed to re-create the major habitat types from around the world. Native plants are used in some areas to enhance the natural ambience whereas in others, exotics create variation within the habitat themes.
The plant collections contain around 5,000 specimens representing about 2,500 different plants. Some of the rarest plants in the world are grown in the gardens. The warm climate in South West England allows us to grow many tender plants outside as part of the exhibits. Palms, bananas and citrus are amongst the plants that contribute to the tropical feel of the Zoo.
With a wealth of exotic and exciting plants, Torre Abbey Garden nestles behind the main building of the Abbey. Here you can walk through the ruins of the original church, discover 12th century architecture and tombs and contemplate life as a medieval monk. Or be enthralled by the rare and often strange shrubs and plants that we are able to grow in our mild English Riviera climate.
In summer massed dahlia borders take centre stage along with the many herbaceous perennials, roses and herbs that make English gardens rightfully famous and delight the senses.
All year round you can enjoy The Palm House, containing tropical plants and palms from around the world, and the fascinating Cactus Collection. Noteworthy recent additions to the heated Palm House include some rare and endangered palms from Kew’s collection and plumerias and gingers for their flamboyant, perfumed flowers.
Agatha Christie's Potent Plant Garden
The Queen of Crime was born in Torquay; it is her keen interest in plants and their medicinal powers that are celebrated in this garden feature at Torre Abbey. The Agatha Christie Potent Plants display offers an in intriguing insight into her murder-mysteries and the murky world of poison and treachery.
Closed Saturday and Sunday
A luxuriant garden by the sea, with an Arts and Crafts-style house featuring Art Deco-influenced interiors. Travel back in time to the Jazz Age at the holiday home of the D'Oyly Carte family. You can lose yourself in the magical 12-hectare (30-acre) garden: viewpoints give enticing glimpses out to sea, paths weave through glades past tranquil ponds, and tender plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand thrive in the moist and sheltered valley. This most evocative of holiday homes, built in the Arts & Crafts style, is imbued with 1920s' elegance. A light, joyful atmosphere fills the rooms and music plays, echoing the family's Gilbert and Sullivan connections.
This is an extraordinary glimpse into the private holiday home of the famous and much-loved author Agatha Christie and her family.
The relaxed and atmospheric house is set in the 1950s, and contains many of the family's collections, including archaeology, Tunbridgeware, silver, botanical china and books.
Outside you can explore the large and romantic woodland garden, with a restored vinery, wild edges and rare plantings, which drifts down the hillside towards the sparkling Dart estuary.
Please consider 'green ways' to get there, to relieve pressure on congested lanes: eg cycling, walking or ferries from Dartmouth, Torquay and Brixham. Important: If you're arriving by car please pre-book your parking space.
Closed Monday and Tuesday