No good excuses for the long delay in the next installment of this blog - but I'm well on track towards visiting 100 gardens so there is a lot to catch up with. I do make no apology for the corny title of this installment though - but what a pair of gardens to talk about! Any visitor to Cornwall will swiftly notice that there are a lot of place names beginning with 'Tre' (farm or settlement in the Cornish language) - I dont think there is a 'Tremendous' but it certainly wouldn't be inappropriate for some of the gardens we have here.
One of the best known Cornish gardens - and probably the best example of a valley garden - is Trebah. Located to the west of Falmouth on the north bank of the Helford river it is one of the handful of gardens open throughout the year and an enjoyable visit at any time. As you can see from the first photo trees feature strongly along both sides of the valley but the centre is devoted to a series of features which culminate in the lake (a rare feature in major Cornish gardens). Relatively compact there are several paths to choose when walking down to the bottom of the valley / garden - from where you can climb a few steps over the coastal path and find yourself on their private beach!
There is a wide variety of planting with some of the best examples of Cornish favorites including gunneras, bamboos, tree ferns and hydrangeas - not to mention several champion trees. The first two have been turned into family friendly features with the Gunnera Passage - you can walk through and under a mass planting across the lower valley floor - and the 'Bamboozle' - clumps of bamboos criss-crossed by paths.
The garden looks after its visitors very well - excellent restaurant and shops at the top of the valley and ice cream and light refreshments available down by the beach during spring and summer. Well maintained and with lots of labels and informative panels - a small amphitheater is being built on the west side of the valley (due for opening spring 2014). Overall Trebah is definitely one of our favorites - and if your time is limited possibly the best place to see a variety of planting and features in a few hours.
Second garden today is one of the county's newest - Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens. Created over the last decade on a hillside overlooking Mount's Bay in the southwest - it opened fulltime less than a year ago when it's lovely new cafe and shop were completed. In contrast to Trebah the visitor arrives at the foot of the slope and the garden covers one side only of a valley. A gentle climb up the valley alongside a wooded stream has echoes of the Jungle at Heligan due to the boardwalk - but once you reach the top you are in no doubt you are in a garden unlike any other in the county.
The emphasis is on exotic and sub-tropical plants which certainly seem to enjoy the southerly aspect and mild conditions this far south west. Palms and bananas are underplanted with succulents, grasses and restios along a series of terraces with viewing platforms giving a different perspective across the garden. We first visited last summer (before the formal opening) and have been back several times since - even on New Year's Day there were several clumps of red hot pokers in full flower! Currently the garden is only closed in January and in our experience is well worth seeing at any time of year.
The sculpture aspect of the garden features several large pieces found throughout the garden. For now plants are definitely the focus of the garden - but the striking 'architectural' properties of many of them work very well with the landscape and the manmade elements.
100 Cornish gardens in a year
I'm Jeremy - gardener, Cornish resident, ex-librarian, tour business owner - and now blogger. I plan to visit 100 + Cornish gardens in 2013 - many for the first time. Please join me 'virtually' or in person - or even both!