Don't stew in a traffic jam this summer: take a quick detour to restorative bliss

It's that horrible holiday moment, idling on the Tarmac of a stationary motorway with all the plastic surfaces of your car heating up to egg-frying temperature. The only redeeming quality of a five-hour drive with a car full of luggage is that just occasionally you find somewhere amazing to stop, and then, for a moment, all life seems to make sense.

The A303 is the holiday route for anyone heading to Devon and Cornwall, and is rich in good gardens. Stourhead, East Lambrook and Tintinhull are world-class gardens, respectively three, two, and half a mile from the tractor-studded A-road. Each offers a different kind of peaceful respite to the teeth-grinding driver: Stourhead is a perfect English landscape garden around a circular lake walk with views that could make any photographer look expert. East Lambrook was immortalised by writer Margery Fish in We Made a Garden. One of Britain's prettiest cottage gardens, it is currently being restored with the help of teams of volunteers, and is open daily except Monday. And Tintinhull is a 20th-century formal garden for an 18th-century manor, much admired by the horticultural cognoscenti. The National Trust opens it Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm.

But this year I detoured a bit further than usual, to North Devon and Rosemoor, the RHS's western outpost, about 20 minutes' drive from Okehampton. Living up to its name, there are roses in perfumed quantity at Rosemoor the day I visit. In fact, so many are tumbling everywhere in so many different colours that it looks like the front of a cheesy 1970s box of chocolates. In

every direction, herbaceous borders lead away, all with the immaculate labelling which is the great advantage of an RHS garden – you can actually find out what that plant you like is called – and, often, buy it in the plant centre afterwards.

This time, though, my purpose was to visit the newly finished Square Garden. A hot little suntrap, it has been expertly planted with drifts of bright reds and yellows, including the bronze-leaved dahlia "Bishop of Oxford", bearing gaudy orange blooms. Foliage plants are interspersed, with Euphorbia wallichii providing a 4ft-high blast of zingy lime-green at the back of the bed, and Sambucus niger bearing dark, wine-coloured leaves with much fancy fringing.

Touches of crazy, velvety mauve complete the picture, such as Lobelia "Hadspen Purple" and a Penstemon called "Vesuvius" that is particularly eye-catching. And after an hour at Rosemoor, I get back on the road, my blood pressure considerably lower. One more recommendation for taking a horticultural detour.

RHS Garden Rosemoor in Great Torrington is open daily from 10am-6pm. For more information, visit

Green getaways: Refreshing stop-offs

Biddulph Grange

Going up north or heading down south? Ten miles from junction 17 of the M6, just north of Stoke-on-Trent, this Victorian fantasy extravaganza boasts Chinese pavilions, an Egyptian pyramid and huge evergreens to picnic beneath. Totally nuts but gorgeous.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Two miles from the M1, junction 38, just north of Barnsley, lies an amazing landscape with works by Hepworth and Moore. One for kids who need a run around.

Bodnant Garden

Heading for Holyhead? Ten miles from the A5 at Betws-y- Coed, elegant terraces give way to huge Snowdonian views, with a Himalayan feel to much of the planting.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing

Other places that have held independence referendums
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Portfolio Analyst - Prince2

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a glob...

Project Co-ordinator - Birmingham - Permanant

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Head of Maths

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Head of Maths position at a prestigious ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week