Monday, November 02, 2009

Torquay treasures


That's Fawlty Towers, kiss-me-quick hats, blokes with knotted handkerchiefs on their heads and deckchairs, right?


It's the proud home of quite the best municipal planting I've ever seen. VP - you should get down there and take some pics for that OOTS strand of yours asap.

We've just come back from a little break there: I won't bore you too much with what we got up to, though we did find a hotel John Cleese would have been proud of to stay in.

Instead I shall just introduce you to the Palm House at Torre Abbey. The head gardener - employed, take note, by the Torbay Council's Parks Department - is career changer Ali Marshall, who used to be something in business administration but for the last year (only a year?!) has taken the helm at Torre Abbey. And my goodness, is she an inspired plantswoman.

It's a small garden, but there's a lot packed in. A dahlia border so densely-planted I mistook it for a rose garden from a distance; a cactus house with three-foot-across hummocks; palms a go-go and a bank of cannas. There was even a recently-planted Agatha Christie garden which owed a great deal to the Poison Garden at Alnwick but with a sleuthing twist.

But it was the recently-restored (as is everything at Torre Abbey, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, gawd bless 'em) 1960s Palm House which stole the show for me. There weren't many labels so I gave up trying to identify everything in the end and just marvelled.

You wouldn't believe it's a public garden run by the Parks Department, would you? Talk about showing everyone else how it's done...


VP said...

Lovely palm house :)

Did you take any photos of the municipal planting? What was particularly good about it?

I suspect I won't get there until next year!

The Constant Gardener said...

I'm afraid I didn't take any photos of the municipal planting, mainly because they were in the middle of replacing all the bedding so there was a lot of bare soil around!

But there are rows of very healthy-looking Washingtonias (I think - palm id is a bit dodgy from time to time) and it was generally very spruced up and neat. There were several patches of really inspired planting - Ricinus featured a lot, plus cannas and various other tropicana. And there's lots of effort put into the outside of Torre Abbey, which is run by Torbay Council - though I don't know if that counts as municipal planting by your definition!

I reckon if you went, say, next May for a little holiday with Mr VP you might find it at its tip-top best. Or late summer, maybe, to catch all the big-leaves-and-bright-colours planting.

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