The first thing I was drawn to when we drove into the Knightshayes property was the striking colours of the rhododendrons, which were in full bloom. Vivid orange, pink and gold blossoms rose up from up a meadow alive with long grasses and wildflowers.
We were in Devon with my parents who were over from New York a few weeks ago, visiting my nan who lives in the town of Tiverton. Knightshayes was a good stopping point to pass some time before an afternoon tea at a local cafe. It’s been a long time since I took my camera out for fun rather than work.
As the National Trust property website says, there’s lots to explore: a post-war garden, 19th-century parkland and grand Gothic Revival architecture by Victorian visionary William Burges. Emilia slept through most of it, but they cater to kids as well.
There’s a big old house to explore, but I was more interested in the gardens and enjoying being outdoors somewhere other than the city. Long wisteria blooms draped down the side of the house and vines crept beautifully up the old walls and around intricate windows. We found archways carved in hedgerows, flower-lined pathways to walk, lilies on round pond and quirky carved topiary.
After we walked around the gardens near the house, I skipped through the itchy meadow grasses to get a closer view of those rhododendrons.
There are a bunch of different areas to wander through on the sprawling property: the formal garden, the garden in the wood, Holly’s wood, Sir John’s wood, Michael’s wood, the arboretum, English woodland walk and the south garden.
We also spent some time in the walled garden – the kitchen garden – which is full of plants, many that can be eaten. This was, of course, the original idea. It’s an old Victorian garden that saw slow decline through the two world wars and the years that followed and was only revitalised to its former productive state when funding started to come through in 2003.
Beyond the gardens, there’s a cafe or two, a second hand bookshop and of course a fully stocked gift shop through which you enter and leave.
Knightshayes is steeped in history and it’s also very beautiful, changing at different times of year depending on what is in bloom. Worth a visit if you find yourself driving around down in Devon.