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Transforming the South Devon garden at Herondyke

In a spectacular waterside location, Herondyke is a beautiful home and garden that’s made for holidays in South Devon.  However, while the enjoyment of the garden comes mainly in the summer, it is the work that is done throughout the year that has made it possible for owners to enjoy it most in the warmer months.

Year-round gardening 

When Herondyke first came to Pebbles, the garden needed a lot of attention because it had previously only been tended to in the summer months to prepare for holidays.  In reality, it is the work throughout the seasons that allows a garden to flourish when we most want to enjoy it, thereby avoiding the aggressive pruning and damage to plants that is caused during a short term attempt to tidy them up.

Our Gardens Manager, George, always says that to turn a garden around and to see a real difference, a knowledgeable gardener needs a year.  All four seasons accommodate the growing cycles and seasonal pruning necessary for everything to flourish.  For example, some shrubs will need a light prune after they have flowered, while others need a third removing every third year in order to keep the height and size right.  Some shrubs can be treated like hedges and some need to be treated like roses.  Everything needs to be done at the right time, so while you can blitz a garden to tidy it up, to do a high quality job that has long term results, a gardener needs to take it through a full growing season.

This year round attention to detail hadn’t been done at Herondyke.  So, working throughout the year, our Salcombe gardening team pruned shrubs and tended to the herbaceous borders.  The herbaceous plants tend to die in the middle when they get too big, so if you lift, divide and replant them the result is healthier plants.  They also added mulch to the flowerbeds, making the soil more nutrient rich, using organic ingredients and providing a tidy appearance with its black crumb surface.

You’ve got to give the garden a bit of love.
Gardens Manager George

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Landscaping and design

Once we had the maintenance of the garden into a proper routine, Herondyke’s owners started to consider the wider design and decided upon a deck at the end of the garden by the water’s edge.  We designed and built the deck, liaising with the local Planning Department and Building Control because of its quayside location, and the result is a space from which the family can canoe or simply sit and watch the estuary.

That then lead to a further decking area, complete with a gazebo, fire pit and raised oak planters to fringe the borders, which were filled with grasses and silver birch.  The result is a beautiful cumulative effect, which allows owners to enjoy the view and make the most of the garden when they visit.

Ongoing garden maintenance

Moving forward, there’s never a dull moment at Herondyke, or indeed in any garden.  While the summer sees the team weeding and tidying, that much needed winter maintenance that was lacking before now has a clear schedule, allowing us to tend to the grass regularly, clear dead wood and prune shrubs in the winter, which is typically when they get out of hand and start to block the beautiful coastal views.

Where it is always tempting to simply care for the garden in the summer, a year round routine prevents the need for savage pruning and the optimum health of the garden.  After all, a garden doesn’t stop growing just because it’s winter, the winter is when the important things happen.Or, in the words of George: “when you’ve got to give the garden a bit of love.”

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