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Two contrasting plots to enjoy

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

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NOT one but two gardens offering very different experiences are opening during the same weekend in Moretonhampstead.

However, apart from being in the same location, there's not much else these two stunning plots have in common.

But it is those differences that visitors will enjoy when they both open for charity on September 15 and 16.

Vibrant colours of late-flowering shrubs and perennials are promised at the eight acres of gardens at Sutton Mead and Mardon and all money raised will go towards Macmillan Cancer Relief, Marie Curie Cancer Care and Help the Hospices.

The two large, long-established gardens are both within walking distance of the town and dogs on leads are welcome.

For those who want to explore a bit more there are public paths leading away from both gardens.

Follow the yellow signs down to the bottom of Lime Street where Mardon nestles in a tree-lined valley with a fine view of the church tower. Here you will find a long herbaceous border, extensive lawns, granite terraces with stunning borders of blue Agapanthus, a fernery beside a large pond complete with a thatched boathouse and, on a steep hillside behind the house, a recently planted arboretum with 60 specimen trees.

It has been a great year for hydrangeas and both gardens have them covered in colourful flowers. Sutton Mead, just up the lane from Chagford Cross, is on higher ground with wonderful views of the distant moors. Paths wander through woodland and you can rest a while on seats beside granite lined ponds.

There are long borders with mature trees and shrubs beside the drive and a bog garden that has loved the weather this year. Both gardens have colourful and productive kitchen gardens

Mardon is owned by Graham and Mary Wilson, who are rightly proud of the four-acre garden surrounding their Edwardian house. Since moving there nearly two decades ago the couple have only needed to make subtle changes.

Mary said: "The garden is very Edwardian because it has formal terraces, topiary and beautiful mature trees and plants. The thing people enjoy seeing, almost more than the beautiful garden, is our extremely productive kitchen garden. We are completely self-sufficient."

When it comes to maintaining the large garden, Mary and Graham, both retired, do much of the work with the help of a gardener.

Mary said: "I do the big herbaceous borders, which I've planted with things like phloxes, delphiniums, various geraniums and dahlias.

"I like the fact the garden has different areas and we are so close to the village yet so secluded.

"My favourite feature is the lovely big terrace where you can sit and survey all the work you ought to be doing when you're having a cup of tea. You can see almost the whole garden from there.

"I've always enjoyed gardening and I think it is the vegetable garden which gives us the most pleasure."

The garden has been open to the public for many years along with Sutton Mead, owned by Edward and Miranda Allhusen. Their three-and-a-half acre garden is described as one of contrasts on a gently sloping hillside. With fantastic views over Dartmoor, it contains woodland, a potager vegetable garden, spring fed ponds, an unusual greenhouse and new orchard.

Miranda, who is also the county organiser for the NGS in Devon, said she is really looking forward to the open event.

"There will be masses of colour, and the views will be stunning," she said. "I've just got to get on with the weeding."

The two gardens combined offer about eight acres of garden. Both have croquet lawns for children to play on and both offer sumptuous teas.

"It's a real family day out and is suitable for people of all ages," Miranda added.

The gardens are well signposted in the town and are open from 2pm to 6pm on both days.

Combined admission is adults £4.50, children free. Dogs on leads are welcome.

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