Fast Rabbit Farm is a hidden gem, nestling down tiny country lanes near to Dartmouth.
As you arrive at the farm, hand-written signs tell you to pay in the greenhouses and we eventually found someone potting some flowers who gratefully took our money. There was no card machine and she didn’t have any change, so she didn’t even charge us full price. This all set the scene for a garden which is obviously a labour of love, rather than a way of making money. The map she offered us was a photocopy of a hand drawn map, and even the leaflets which they had printed spoke more about the reason for the odd name than anything else!
Fast Rabbit Farm Quick Guide
> Describes itself as: 43 acres of beautiful woodland gardens
> Horticultural Highlights: Magnolias and Camellias
> Other Highlights: The lake area
> Family Friendly: Yes, but nothing particularly child-friendly
> Accessibility: Tricky in places, disabled visitors are advised to phone in advance
> Best for: A quiet woodland walk
> In one sentence: A quirky, but well-designed garden which is clearly someone’s passion and life work
It was raining on the day of our visit which is often the kiss of death for gardens, but hardly spoiled our visit at all. We followed the delightfully amateurish map to a gazebo to hide from the rain and eat our picnic. The gazebo offered fantastic views across the gardens and we could see down to the wildflower meadow, across the river, and up the banking on the far side of the valley. The Magnolias, and particularly the Camellias, were putting on a fine display of colour. These large colourful shrubs are just delightful when in flower and come in a whole range of subtle, and not so subtle, colours.
The gardens were very quiet on the day of our visit and my children really enjoyed running across the meadows and playing hide and seek in the woods. There are no play areas, or anything specifically designed for children, but the gardens have enough hidden paths and interesting detours to keep most children happy. My middle child is the only one of my children who has an active interest in horticulture, and she particularly enjoyed the garden. We both loved the areas around the lake, as well as the rockery. The middle section of the garden, between the meadows and the lake, is woodland and the Bluebells were flowering on the day of our visit. There are few things in life as beautiful as a carpet of bluebells in an English garden. The blooming flowers and pretty woodland paths meandered around and about and there was always something new to see. The Lakeland area was particularly pleasant. A gentle stream trickled down the valley-side. A couple of small waterfalls added to the effect of calm and tranquillity. Some Canadian Geese floated on the lake, and on a less rainy day I’m sure we would have seen plenty of other wildlife. Our dog was allowed to come with us, but we had to keep him on a lead.
I enjoyed our visit a lot, but this garden is a far cry from the professionally run gardens I’m used to. The signage was awful and there are no facilities or extras to speak of. Even the toilets are a nightmare-inducing hut in the woods. The nursery sells a wide range of plants, but you will have to look for someone to take your money. I think only one person was running the whole show on the day of our visit. If you are prepared to embrace these quirks, then you will love this garden.
Start planning your Devon holiday now.