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Thorn Gardens

The garden covers an area of nine acres, based around a central terrace, on which the house, lawn, and formal walk are sited. Rising above this is an area of natural woodland, whilst to the other side the land falls away down to the river. This area is planted in a natural style with an eclectic selection of trees and shrubs. Thanks to the generally benign maritime climate, many slightly tender plants flourish here. Echiums, for example, often survive outside. Thorn also has a growing collection of azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons, tree heaths and heathers, hydrangeas, red hot pokers (Kniphofia), and bulbous plants such as Crinum.

Front courtyard

Front Courtyard

Front courtyard

Main lawn into Rose garden

Main lawn into Rose garden

Lower Banks

Lower Banks of Thorn Garden

As one approaches the front of the house, the spectacular view up the River Yealm to the northeast, looking towards Dartmoor, forms a stunning backdrop to an interesting collection of trees and shrubs around the courtyard. Particularly notable here are a large Abies alba f. pendula (a weeping form of the European Silver Fir) and the Monkey Puzzles (Araucaria araucana); a male and female, resulting in a fine display of cones.

Rear garden

One enters the garden via the Wisteria clad side of the house giving an immediate wonderful long vista, which leads the eye over a wide flat lawn towards the formal walk, aligned by the four great Italianate urns. These magnificent urns known as the 'Trentham Vases' were purchased by Arkwright from Trentham Hall (Staffordshire) in 1920. The Formal Walk leads through to the rose garden, created by Arkwright, and onto the Long Walk between formal beds towards a decorative iron gate, also moved from Sutton Scarsdale, giving wonderful views down the River Yealm and across to Newton Ferrers.

The terrace path perched above and parallel with the formal walk, connects the house to the furthest part of the garden, giving a birds-eye view of all that goes on below. A small area of South African plants and succulents has been added recently, exploiting the good drainage and sunny aspect of the site.

Unusual trees

In addition to the formal garden, Thorn boasts a collection of trees from around the world, of interest to serious dendrologists and general tree-lovers alike. It is only in the normally mild climate of the South West that trees from South America, such as the beautiful evergreen Gevuina avellana (Chilean hazel) can flourish, and grow to the large size of the magnificent specimen seen here.

The severe storm in the 1990s, which brought great Monterey pines crashing to the ground, left a vast amount of debris. Fortunately some of the large old specimens including a variety of cedars and two huge Eucalyptus remained unscathed, providing, in addition to their intrinsic beauty, shelter for new and interesting specimens.

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