Devon

Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, Budleigh Salterton

The grand Bicton Park Botanical Gardens sit on the former Bicton estate in East Devon. A bucolic sprawl of landscaped Grade I-listed gardens peppered with glass domes and innumerous exotic plants, the site is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

A popular attraction amongst all generations, Bicton Park Botanical Gardens is well worth a visit if you are staying in one of our luxury cottages in Devon. Boasting a range of fantastic features, including historic glasshouses, a countryside museum, a woodland railway and children’s play areas, it offers the chance to bask in the tranquillity of its 64-acre countryside setting as well as serving up a host of activities. 

Dreamt up and created in the 1730's, the verdant gardens of Bicton Park have flourished with abandon, well and truly thriving with the passage of time. Yet despite the gardens’ 300 years of history, the site itself has much deeper-rooted origins, stretching back over 1300 years to the Middle Ages. Originally called Beocccatun (meaning “the hamlet of Beocca”), the area was once inhabited by the Saxons until, after four centuries settled on the western banks of the River Otter, it was taken over by the Normans after the Conquest.

Seizing control of the area, the Normans built a prison at Rougement Castle (aka Exeter Castle) in a scrupulous bid to keep local Saxon populations under control. With wardenship of the prison falling to the Lords of Bicton Manor, the role was carried out for 700 years by which time the first of Bicton’s gardens, the Italian Garden, was established. Inspired by French designer Andre Le Notre, the Italian Garden encompasses a styled explosion of colour and remains the park’s centrepiece, boasting incredible views and intricate features.

Becoming one of the most important features of the Bicton Estate, the Italian Garden was honed and expanded, later followed by the creation of the American & Stream Gardens a hundred years later. Showcasing flora from all over the world, Bicton Park Botanical Gardens has one of the finest collections of trees in the UK, and has grown to include many more beautifully curated horticultural zones, including the Mediterranean & Rose Gardens, the Fernery & Shell House, the Hermitage and the Pinetum & Arboretum.

With so much to see and do, the huge network of paths around Bicton’s gardens leads you on a voyage of discovery past exotic tree ferns, multi-coloured flowers and towering trees. If you are happy to take your time, exploring on foot gives you the chance to take in all the little details, while hopping aboard the wheelchair-friendly Bicton Woodland Railway gives you the chance to observe the whole site from a new perspective. As you go, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the park’s four glasshouses, including the Palm House, built using 18,000 small glass panes.

Elsewhere, you will also find a beautiful nature trail, a maze, mini golf, museum and outdoor children’s play areas too. Watch as your youngsters let off steam on the Astro turf football pitch and drive around on the fun pedal tractors, before treating yourself to lunch in the Orangery overlooking the Italian Garden. Home to a shop and restaurant, you can round off your visit with a light snack or hearty meal, perusing the daily specials board and digging into lip-smacking chow. 

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Devon here.

Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, East Budleigh, Budleigh Salterton, Exeter EX9 7BJ | 01395 568 465 

 

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