How many cuckoos?

Devon Odyssey 5 - the not so gnomish bit of the Gnome Reserve

There are two sides to the Gnome Reserve in Devon that I wrote about in my previous post.  There is the very gnomey, quaint, twee, eccentric, use whatever terms you like, gnome bit and then there is the wildflower bit.  The lady who runs the reserve is extremely organised and gives you your instructions on how your visit should proceed.  After visiting the gnomes you then go back into the house and collect your quiz sheet which you need for the wildflower area.  I was happy to go along with this, I like a good quiz and whilst I would consider it more a method to keep children occupied and interested as they walk around, it seemed the right thing to go along with what she suggested.
The quiz sheet asks you to count the fairies that you see as you wander around and various other things to spot.  The fairies were not that easy to spot, they hid I think.  Immediately you enter through the small gate you are greeted by this rather wonderful pond/lake.  It was so green and lush around it and tranquil.  I was fairly relaxed after wandering around the gnomes but you could not help but exhale as you walk into this area.  It was beautiful.  
The whole area is very wild.  Large areas were just growing as they want.
Some areas were more structured and very beautifully done too.
There was this rather nice herb wheel.  It might not have been the best maintained I have ever seen, but that was ok, if it had been over-managed it would not have seemed right somehow.
There are beds of specific herbs and wild flowers which are helpfully labelled.
By doing the quiz I did find I was looking at things more closely than I would have done otherwise.  In particular there was one question that I struggled with, which was how many cuckoos did I see.  Well, I have never seen a real cuckoo and I was not sure how I would know if I saw one.  This perplexed me and suddenly the quiz that I was only doing for a laugh became a challenge.  Then as I wandered I saw a wooden owl, then another owl, so I wrote on the quiz 0 cuckoos but will 2 owls do?  Then light dawned, the cuckoos would be like the owls, not real.  I also realised I had clearly missed them altogether so had to start the circuit again when I duly spotted the three cheeky chappies hidden in some grass.
There were some gnomes, but much much fewer.  This wildflower garden was a total delight.  Forget any issues you might have with gnomes, go for this bit alone, it is in my opinion worth it.  It is mainly worth it because it is scrubby and a bit wild.  Its not over-managed and its not a carpet of amazing blooms wafting in the breeze that have been carefully developed sown and tended.  This is pretty much the real deal, these are plants that are growing happily with weeds (or less favoured wild flowers) and unmown grass in a beautiful setting.

When I got back to the house I thanked the owner and praised her on this wonderful wild garden.  She was clearly very proud of it and said they had been clearing it from a brambley wilderness for over twenty years. 

I then sat and had a cup of earl grey tea and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the day.  Days do not much get better than this.


  1. We are thinking of visiting North Devon next year so I have made a note of the Gnome Reserve - it looks delightful. Some gardeners can be very snobby about gnomes but they are guarranteed to make me smile and I like to see them in the wild :-)

    1. If they make you smile, you will smile alot when you go there - its just fun. People who turn their noses up at it are missing out :-)

  2. Very interesting, enjoyable and dare I say gnomish.


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