Rosemoor is a mile and a half to the south of Torrington along the road to Exeter. The area was known originally as Rowe’s Moor. There has been a garden at Rosemoor since 1931, at first extending over 8 acres and now consisting of 65 acres, which attracts about 240,000 visitors a year. Approximately 18 full-time gardeners are employed with 4 students and 4 apprentices aided by around 50 volunteers.
There is something to enjoy all year round in the various parts of the garden which include a spectacular display of roses, colour themed gardens, herb, potager and cottage gardens. There is a foliage and plantsman’s garden, a stream garden and rock gully, woodland walks, a lake, and ‘The Brash’ which is a family play and picnic area. A Devon apple orchard has been planted on the way to the fruit and vegetable garden. There is a restaurant serving meals and a ‘Shepherd’s Rest’ refreshment van. The Garden Room and various shelters in the garden can be hired for weddings. There is a Learning Centre and Teaching Garden and allotment area. In Lady Anne’s original garden there are holiday apartments in the house and a tea room. There are differently themed gardens and many large and beautiful trees. There is the Palmer gazebo and the Copse play area.
The house, dating from the 1780s and originally the property of the Rolle family, local landowners, was bought by Lady Anne Berry’s father in 1923 as a family fishing lodge to be used only from March to May. Following the death of her father in 1931, Lady Anne moved to Rosemoor and, with the help of her mother, began some landscaping of the garden. In 1939 she married Colonel Eric Palmer and her early life was spent ‘camp following’ the regiment and having two sons. During the Second World War, Rosemoor was lent to the Red Cross as a rest home for Londoners from the East End who were suffering the effects of the Blitz. After the war her husband bought more land round Rosemoor and established a dairy farm. Lady Anne’s passion in those days was horses.
It wasn’t until 1959, while recuperating from measles in Spain, that she met Collingwood ‘Cherry’ Ingram who suggested that she take up plant collecting and start a garden of her own at Rosemoor. She subsequently travelled widely in South America, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, the USA and Japan to build up the collection of 4,000 plants in her garden. In 1980 Eric Palmer died and in 1988 Lady Anne donated Rosemoor, plus eight acres of pasture land, to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). In 1990 she married New Zealander Bob Berry and went to live with him at his farm at Tiniroto, Gisborne in North Island and created the Homestead Garden of Hackfalls Arboretum.
There are lots of events held at Rosemoor during the year ranging from flower competitions and displays, food and antiques fairs, art or craft exhibitions and workshops to live music in the Garden Room, outdoor theatre and a drive-in movie night. Activities for children include a Lindt gold bunny hunt at Easter. There are sculpture exhibitions in the garden and ‘See how our garden glows’ from November to January when parts of the gardens are illuminated in the dark winter nights. There is a plant centre and shop and, twice a year, a free entry day.