Bicton Park Botanical Gardens
Living history for the whole family
The Bicton Park Botanical Gardens and Arboretum are one of my favourite places in the whole of East Devon. Why?
In the more than 60 acres of Bicton Park Gardens you can travel the whole world in a day. Start off in the Italian Gardens, formal gardens designed more than 200 years ago still almost in the original design.
A short distance away on your left is the American Garden, crammed with magnificent camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Tucked in among the trees is the shell house where you can find shells from beaches and reefs around the world.
Because Bicton is also a famous botanical garden and has an arboretum nearly all of the trees and shrubs are labelled with their Latin names. Information boards are dotted around the gardens so if you are interested you can read about some of the more than 1000 trees and the people and places associated with Bicton.
There are glasshouses packed with cacti and other tender plants – a great place to be in the winter months when it’s cold outside!
Appreciate the craftsmanship of the palm house, older than the one at Kew and more elaborate in its design. It has over 18,000 small panes of glass to allow it to curve graciously over the large palm inside.
Don't miss the orchid seedlings from the gift shop either. Bicton is actively involved in conserving the natural habitat of these wonderful plants in the wild.
Stroll along the lake and feed the ducks. The lake is one of the largest inland bodies of water in Devon. Men taken prisoner in the Napoleonic wars excavated it and you can enjoy the fruits of their labour. Across the lake is Bicton House, former home of the Rolle family and now a bustling agricultural college.
At Bicton Park there’s plenty for the children too. There’s a large outdoor play area with lots of slides and swings. When they’re tired of that they can move on to the adventure area or the maze. When they’ve exhausted the possibilities of that they can try out crazy golf or maybe just sit on the grass and eat an ice cream. If it’s raining they can try out the indoor play area while you sit and enjoy a welcome cup of tea in the café area.
Bicton Park is not just botanical gardens and an arboretum there’s also the Bicton Woodland Railway. It takes about 25 minutes to ride through the gardens and often the driver will give a commentary.
Then there’s the countryside museum, a large indoor exhibition full of artefacts from Devon life. All aspects of the estate’s work are shown from the gamekeeper to the cook, the thatcher to the blacksmith and everything in between.
Finish off your day out with a cream tea in the tearoom – absolutely delicious.
Bicton Park Botanical Gardens and Arboretum are definitely something you shouldn’t miss! Take a tour of Bicton Park [opens a new window]
Cottage Holiday Guide