The Secret Gardens of Devon and Cornwall


Last week I went photographing places of interest in Cornwall.  I had already planned to go to The Lost Gardens of Heligan which didn’t disappoint.  But what has excited me more is the underground network of other gardens in Devon and Cornwall, that aren’t necessarily on the tourist map.  Those treasures that you just stumble upon.  Those little hidden paradises that you only find by asking the guy in the kiosk on the beach, or the farmer who you bump into on an early morning dog walk.  Perhaps a cliched image – but true – as it’s just happened to me.

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We’ve just been staying in a very remote farm cottage on the Devon/Cornwall border.   And on an early morning trip down to the sea to walk our very enthusiastic spaniel Billy – we had a chat with a local guy who runs the kiosk.  I mentioned my interest in photography and gardening, and he pointed us not in the direction of The Lost Gardens of Heligan (which were spectacular by the way) – but told us to meander down some little lanes and seek out Docton Mill.   And we did.

Hidden in a meandering woodland is this fabulous garden.  (Which also incidentally serves first class lunches with organic food from the gardens; not the usual over-priced granny teas).  The garden is a fascinating voyage of discovery, with hidden brooks and woodland paths.  Whilst the owners describe the garden as ‘a managed wilderness’, I found more beauty in this wilderness than I often do in the more heavily publicised formal gardens.

Docton Mill is an inspirational story of two people leaving behind the rat race, and jobs they were no longer enjoying and taking a huge risk. With no gardening experience, John and Lana Borrett bought Docton Mill and getting back to nature has had a major impact on their lifestyle.

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