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Lecture, cakes, garden tour and wine tasting: what more could you want?

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: September 18, 2013

PEACEFUL: Silver birches and an empty bench convey a scene of tranquility at The Downes.

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HEAD gardener Nigel Alford is all set for his third successive annual lecture amid one of North Devon's loveliest gardens – with the accent very much on informality and fun.

Nigel, top man at Hartland Abbey, will be delivering his words of wisdom at The Downes, between Bideford and Torrington, on Saturday, October 5. His lecture, entitled Devon Doers – plants that fare particularly well in our county, will be followed by an ever-popular Q & A session, along with tea and home-made cakes to accompany the answers.

The three-times winner of the Young Horticulturist of the Year award will lead a tour of the secluded 15-acre spread, encompassing arboretum, woodland walk, shrubberies and rich views of the Torridge valley.

This is followed by wine tasting headed by Majestic Wines and an exhibition of Merlyn Chesterman's woodcuts, ahead of refreshments on the lawn.

Following Nigel's talk and question time, there's afternoon tea and a plant sale; the entire package for £15 per person. All proceeds from the day will aid North Devon Hospice.

Downes' owners Richard Stanley-Baker and Heather Letterman will then open the gardens to the public daily from October 12 to 18 (12pm-4pm) for the National Gardens Scheme.

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