Catherine Allen’s top three gardens to visit in Devon, plus your chance to WIN a bouquet

Following Catherine’s guest blog about the Poltimore flower festival with the Academy of Floral Art, Exploring Exeter has welcomed Catherine back to shine a spotlight on British flowers and her top three gardens to visit in Devon.

This week is British Flowers Week, the annual celebration of British grown flowers and the UK cut flower industry. It was started by New Covent Garden Flower Market  in 2013 and is wonderful celebration of the wealth of variety of British cut flowers and foliage.

Did you know that the retail value of the cut flower industry in Britain is worth over £2 billion? That’s the same as the UK music industry, yet only 12% of those flowers are British grown. A percentage that has quickly withered in the last 30 years amid competition from abroad.

The flowers in an average bouquet you will find online or in the supermarkets will have travelled thousands of air miles, been out of water for up to a week or more, and pumped full of chemicals to keep them fresh. They travel from grower, to the auctions in Holland, to UK wholesalers before arriving at Florists or supermarket shelves.

Compare this to British grown flowers which are picked, shipped and delivered to us (florists) within 24 hours. We will then condition them and give them a good drink before gift-wrapping and sending them to you. I tend to ship orders within 24 hours with their own little water source for the journey. Unless you’ve grown them yourself, you won’t get much fresher!

As a nation of food lovers we are way ahead of the game when it comes to local produce and buying British. We’ve cottoned onto the fact that buying local and seasonal fruit and vegetables means our food is likely to be fresher and better quality.

Produce tastes so much better when it’s in season don’t you think? The same idea goes for flowers. Our growing conditions here, especially in the South West are exceptional. If there’s one thing the Brits know best (apart from brewing the perfect cuppa), it’s how to grow a beautiful country garden. We can offer integrity of provenance, freshness and an ability to offer something different from the mainstream.

If like me, you enjoy taking time to ‘stop and smell the roses’, I’ve selected my top 3 gardens to visit around Exeter and Devon. They are a riot of colour and scent at this time of year and make a wonderful day out for the family. Maybe they’ll tempt you and your family into creating your own little cutting garden and encourage the next generation of ‘green fingers’.


The Garden House, Yelverton 

A diverse 10 acre series of themed gardens full of hidden treasures, unusual plants and rare cultivars. They have an on-site tearoom with a mouthwatering menu of local produce and a plant centre where you can purchase stock propagated from the plants in the garden or cultivated on site. They also host some magical family-friendly events, including an open-air theatre performance of Wind In The Willows set to take place on the 5th of August.

pic by The Garden House, Yelverton, great devon gardens, exploring exeter

Pic used with permission from The Garden House, Yelverton


Rosemoor RHS Garden, Great Torrington

The perfect place to really stop and smell the roses! Until the 30th July, Rosemoor will be celebrating the sights and scents of Britain’s best loved flower with two of the largest and most beautiful rose gardens in the UK. There’s also a special In The Night Garden trail for the little ones, running until the 30th June. 

Photo by: Oli Kite Photography (


Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, Salterton 

A brilliant one for the kids, these Grade I listed gardens include glasshouses, a countryside museum, the Bicton Woodland Railway train ride, a nature trail and children’s play complexes.

pic by The Garden House, Yelverton, great devon gardens, exploring exeter

pic used with permission from Bicton botanical gardens



I’m doing a little bit of research to help me grow and share the love of British cut flowers. If you’d like to help out, please click on the link below to complete a short survey.

To say thank you, one lucky helper (picked at random) will receive a beautiful bouquet of British and ethically sourced flowers worth over £50.

Enter the competition by completing a short survey here for your chance to win a bouquet – it will only take a few minutes I promise! 


About the author:

Catherine Allen (former owner of Blooming Catinky florists) is a great friend of mine from South London.

After an enjoyable and successful 10 year career in the media industry, Catherine decided it was time to follow another path and passion – to use her creativity in the world of floral design.

Cat works with seasonal flowers and supports British growers as often as possible, creating truly bespoke arrangements from gift bouquets and Christmas décor, styled table settings for private parties, to full blown floral installations for weddings.

She is in the process of  launching a new, nationally available brand called Tide Flowers  based in the South West, focussing on British flowers and locally made gifts – keep your eye out for her!

To follow her journey and see some of her beautiful work for yourself, head over to her Instagram.


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