Among verdant foliage and exquisite flowers at some of the South West’s top gardens are a few excellent foodie finds, discovers Rosanna Rothery
Best for farm to fridge: Yeo Valley, Somerset
With six and a half acres of beds, borders, veg plots and meadows, glorious views and a delightful cafe, Yeo Valley’s organic garden is the perfect spot for green fingered gourmets.
You can even get up close and personal with all things deliciously dairy by booking on to one of the farm to fridge tours which includes morning coffee, a top-notch rustic lunch, afternoon tea and garden entry. The guided walk around the farm is a chance to meet the cows and hear how it all began – from experiments on the kitchen table to becoming the largest British organic brand. Tours run on May 17, June 14, July 12 and September 13, from 10am-4pm.
Best for glamour: Coleton Fishacre, Devon
You can almost hear the clinking glasses, popping champagne corks and excitable shrieks of the bright young things as you wander around the elegant art deco house and gardens at Coleton Fishacre. The country home, built in 1926 for Rupert and Dorothy D’Oyly Carte, transports you to the Jazz Age where everyone answers to ‘daarling’.
Sheltered by great trees, the gardens are a treasure trove of exotic and tender plants, while the art deco inspired restaurant makes a stylish stop off for hearty homity pies, cream teas, light sponges and sumptuous chocolate brownies.
Best for history: Bowood Gardens, Wiltshire
A stunning Georgian stately home, Bowood House carries a rich and fascinating history. Set in hundreds of acres of garden, it has been home to the Lansdowne family for more than 260 years. Capability Brown created the landscape, which is one of the best and most unspoilt examples of his work.
The Stables Restaurant offers beautiful buffets with hot and cold dishes created from veg that’s fresh from the kitchen garden. Monthly private walled-garden tours take in the formal borders, pickling gardens, glass houses and kitchen garden.
Best for spring flowers: RHS Rosemoor, north Devon
For vibrant spring colour including displays of bluebells, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and magnolias, RHS Rosemoor is pure joy. Head chef Greg and vegetable gardener Pete work together to make the most of the abundant produce in the award winning Garden Restaurant.
Every day, three freshly-prepared hot main dishes, including a veggie and gluten-free option, are available. Or pick up one of the popular jute picnic lunch bags, and grab yourself a quiet spot in the garden.
Best kitchen garden: Potager, Cornwall
This abandoned plant nursery has blossomed into one of Cornwall’s most unique secret finds where visitors can play games and laze in hammocks surrounded by everything from blackcurrants and broad beans to marigolds and mint. The Potager cafe is tucked away amid plum trees in a converted greenhouse and it’s here that guests chow down on sumptuous homemade cakes, veggie brekkies and wholesome organic lunches. Chef Awen creates an innovative and satisfying range of dishes including frittata, soup and tapas, along with handmade bread and ice cream. Book early for the organic veggie banqueting nights.