Chevithorne Barton; darling buds of May

In 1911 Ludo and May Heathcoat Amory, the current owners great grandparents, married and moved into the house at Chevithorne Barton in Devon. The garden was very much part of their future plans but within four years Ludo was dead on the Somme and, when she lost all three sons in the second World War, May poured her passion into the garden creating a plantswoman’s paradise. Woodland walks carpeted with bluebells, orchards, rock gardens and cascades, herbaceous borders, a lake and stunning views over the Exe Valley would seem special enough. But May’s legacy continued with her grandson, Michael, who dedicated himself to creating a National Collection of Oaks.

Today, Chevithorne Barton is lived in by May’s great grandson Edward who, together with Bluebell the dog, takes us on an enchanting virtual tour of the garden:

A closer look…


Partly because of her rather tragic history, May Heathcoat Amory threw herself into gardening and developed a notable plantswoman’s garden with the emphasis on rock gardens, herbaceous borders and plants that grow well in woods. She planted some fine trees and shrubs notably a large tulip tree and a Magnolia ×veitchii which can be seen flowering from three miles away in the spring. Her generation of gardeners included Margery Fish and Lanning Roper, who reputedly got some of his early inspiration from her garden.


The house, with its Elizabethan roots, is draped with wisteria and roses and yellow magnolias bloom late into the spring. The Oaks of Chevithorne Barton in Devon, represent the largest and most comprehensive oak collection in the UK and possibly in the world. There are currently 440 differently named oaks, comprising of 221 Species, 86 Hybrids, 13 Subspecies, 16 Varieties and 104 Cultivars. You can read more in our article ‘The Quercus Legacy’ here.

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