While visiting Devon in mid-February we planned to spend a couple of days at the RHS’s Rosemoor Garden where an exhibition of sculpture was on show throughout the site.
Before leaving we discovered that Stone Lane Gardens was close by, a garden which holds the National Collections of Betulas (Birches) and Alnus (Alders). Our hotel was situated in between these two gardens, so we decided we simply had to visit this garden too.
We drove across the moors of Dartmoor covered in a cloak of mist and fine drizzle for an hour before dropping a little lower which took us beneath the dampness. We followed small inconspicuous signs towards the garden as the lanes got narrower and narrower until we turned into a cobbled farmyard which acted as the car park. The buildings were deserted but we found an honesty box in which Jude dropped our entry fees. We were pleased to find a map to borrow.
We crossed the narrowest of lanes and entered the garden through a beautiful wrought iron gate. Its beauty was a reflection of the treats that waited for us as we walked along a gravel path into the woodland garden. We stopped to admire a wildlife pond and ahead we spotted a beautiful metal sculpture. Further sculptures were to be found close by.
It was a delight to find native Daffodils and Snowdrops growing alongside our trackway.
We soon came across some of the alders in the garden’s National Collection. February is probably not the best month to see Alders so I only took a few photos. The texture of their bark did look good though as did the remains of last year’s flowers. We will certainly return later in the year and take a better look.
After passing through a tunnel of coppiced Alders we got our first view of the Birches we had come to see.
We were drawn to a group of dark barked Birches. Luckily the trees here are well labelled so we discovered them to be Betula ermanii “Mount Zao Purple”.
The next group we were attracted to through this enchanting woodland was of Betula raddeana. This was a very varied group presumably grown from Ken’s seed collecting expeditions.
Having explored each of this group touching their bark and having close up looks at their bark and branch structures we moved on soft grass paths through so many young Birches.
Our native Downy Birch, Betula pubescens looked incredibly gnarled and deeply fissured.
Devon is well known as being a good place for mosses and lichen and the trees here were well covered. As we reached the end of the garden we found pools and odd pieces of sculpture dotted between groves of alders and birches.
We shall return to share with you our wander back through the woodland garden.