An Exotic Seaside Garden
Published: 14th June, 2016
The National Trust's Overbeck's garden sits within a belt of woodland high above Salcombe's southerly beaches and cliffs. It's just a stone's throw from dramatic and spectacular views around Starehole Bay at Bolt Head on the the South West Coast Path, and makes a perfect day out for walkers, garden lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Due to the proximity of the sea Overbeck's sheltered gardens are relatively warm and mostly frost-free, so a host of exotic Mediterranean, sub-Tropical and rare plants from all around the world thrive here. The whole garden is made up of small and unique terraced gardens, each wending their way along the hillside. One garden is a testimony to the surrounding Schist rocks in the hillside (you'll see more of this beautifully weathered stone at Bolt Head). Another is named the Banana Garden – it's luxurious, warm and tropical. The Secret Garden is cleverly planted and closes up with dense foliage during the summer to create a micro-climate and a beautiful shady place to relax in. There is also a woodland garden, wandering wisterias, super tall Echium pininanas beloved by bees and butterflies, with many more exotic plants to wonder at and the odd Mallard duck or two!
From certain vantage points you can sit and quietly gaze out to sea towards Gara Rock and over the estuary to Salcombe. There is a tea room serving fine Devon clotted cream teas and cakes on the terrace, and the Edwardian House containing the eclectic natural history collection of the scientist Otto Overbeck, is well worth a visit.
For more spectacular uninterrupted sea and estuary views take the lower path from the garden to the South West Coast Path. You'll walk up over Starehole Bay and out towards Sharpitor and Bolt Head. Along the way you may see a Peregrine Falcon (listen for the small birds to go quiet and you'll know it's a Peregrine rather than a Buzzard), Painted Lady butterflies which have arrived from Africa for the Summer, Foxgloves and Orchids. Return to Overbeck's on the higher path for more far-reaching views, and to admire the naturally weathered pinnacles of the Schist rock – unique artwork created by nature.
If you prefer not to drive directly to Overbeck's and park on the winding road (or in their small car park below the house), you can go to the East Soar National Trust car park, grid ref SX713375, and take the mostly level 20-minute walk to the gardens.
During the Summer there are garden tours with one of the very knowledgeable gardeners every Wednesday at 2pm.
National Trust gardens near Dittiscombe Holiday Cottages include Overbeck's, Greenway, Coleton Fishacre and Cotehele, all within a 60 minute drive. For further information visit the individual National Trust entries, or read more about Coleton Fishacre and Cotehele on Ruth's Blogs.
Entry to Overbeck's House and Garden is £8 and £4 for children, open from February until October from 11am. You can arrive on foot, by ferry, bus and car but parking is limited so check the National Trust's website before arrival. There is disabled parking next to the main entrance. Dogs are not allowed in the house or garden.
If you like visiting gardens and historic properties then take a short break at Dittiscombe Holiday Cottages and make a day out at this National Trust gem near Salcombe.