Guide Manor Gardens, Exmouth

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3. Plants in the gardens

The gardens have always been dominated by mature trees. The old pictures of the gardens are defined by the presence of large specimens, many of them elms. Sadly, like so many other parks across the country, Dutch Elm Disease completed changed the landscape in the 1960s. This, however, gave the  opportunity to plant many new trees and there is still a diverse range today. Species present include Copper Beech, Holm Oak, Turkey Oak, Monterey Cypress (known locally as Macrocarpa), Horse Chestnut, Yew, Purple Sycamore and many more. There is also a line of Limes which trail through the garden, increasing the formal character.

The sub-tropical bed is a relatively new feature added to the gardens. The mild climate in Exmouth means there are a greater range of plants which can be grown successfully. Species used include a variety of Agave's, Chamaerops Humilis, Lamphanthus Spectabile and mixed Yucca. There are two particular plants of note from Mexico - Beschorneria Yuccoides and Dasylirion Acrotrichum.

There are numerous herbaceous borders which add great variety and diversity to the gardens throughout the year.

The rose and topiary garden is not an original feature but it is in keeping with the style of a Victorian formal landscape. This example has been created using Box, which is kept carefully clipped to give a precise appearance. The small hedges surround bedding plants, giving an attractive splash of colour throughout the seasons.

The carpet bed has been a feature of Manor Gardens since the 1960s. The pictures are created using a range of different bedding plants, the foliage of each helping form the picture, which always has a local link or theme.

The bed is painstakingly laid out and planted up over three days, using up to 9,000 plants. The hard work doesn't end there - it needs to be clipped weekly to keep the lines clean and sharp. There is no way the bed can be walked on of course - all the work is done from long planks suspended across the bed.