A visual history of Devon's great gardens
Autumn seems the ideal time to look back at the gardens of Devon down the ages – and forward for ideas for next year.
It seems the perfect time to take a look at The Art of the Devon Garden, written by Exeter academic historian Dr Todd Gray, which has just been published.
It contains more than 600 images, many of which have not been seen by the public before.
Dr Gray, a research fellow at Exeter University and the author of more than 40 books on Devon, said the book was a visual history of Devon gardens over the past 800 years.
"Devon has a rich garden history," he said. "Illuminated manuscripts at Exeter Cathedral illustrated flowers of some 800 years ago – these are extraordinarily beautiful images and were intended to delight the eye.
"Herb and vegetable growing are also shown in some of our earliest records, as well as the planting of white and red roses.
"Artists have drawn or painted our gardens for centuries and their images provide a visual history of local gardens. In Exeter the bishop's garden has been the largest in the city since records began, but there are a number of other extraordinary gardens close to the city: Mamhead, Powderham Castle, Nutwell Court and Oxton are all within a few miles of Exeter. Each has been beautifully captured by artists over the centuries."
The book has been published with the Devon Gardens Trust (DGT), a conservation and education charity, to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.
DGT chairman Dr Ian Varndell said: "The trust was delighted to be approached by Dr Todd Gray with the idea for this book, and the result is a fascinating volume depicting works of art inspired by the beautiful Devonshire flora and designed landscapes, many of which were created by artists or craftsmen residing in the county.
"The Devon countryside and the historically important designed landscapes it embraces, is under greater threat from development now than when the trust was formed 25 years ago.
"Solar farms, wind turbines and the infrastructure projects needed to service an ever-increasing house-building programme in the county frequently threaten sites which are part of our local heritage.
"We cannot replace that which is lost by insensitive development."
The Art of the Devon Garden is published by the Mint Press, Exeter, and is available from booksellers or direct from Stevensbooks at www.stevensbooks.co.uk or 01392 459760.