Archive for 03/09/2013


The ‘Cornwall Gardens Guide’ mentions 9 gardens beginning with ‘Tre’ (Cornish for ‘homestead’ or ‘town’). Having just returned from two weeks there and in Devon, I visited three of these (Trengwainton and Trelissick as well as Trerice) as well as Godolphin, Glendurgan and St. Michael’s Mount. They all share Cornwall’s mild climate and several have river valley settings and their associated semi – tropical microclimates. Despite these similarities, I found these wonderful gardens to have a range of distinctive styles or features, largely reflecting the historic interests of their owners and gardeners.

Over the coming weeks I’ll do a photo feature on each of these as well as Killerton Gardens (near Exeter, Devon) and will throw in a couple of very special places – the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden in St. Ives and Chysauster Ancient Village, both in Cornwall. I begin where we began our tour, at Trerice near Newquay, a place we visited en route to our destination of St. Ives. This Elisabethan house and gardens is described by the National Trust as:

‘An intimate Elizabethan manor and a Cornish gem, Trerice remains little changed by the advances in building fashions over the centuries, thanks to long periods under absentee owners.’

The house is certainly delightful to look at, with its rust coloured granite stone, ‘dutch’ gables and ancient leaded windows – many of which are cracked from the test flights of ‘Concorde’ 50 years ago! These ‘sonic booms’ must have been especially noticeable in  what is otherwise a very quiet, peaceful place, far away from busy roads or settlements (we managed to get very lost in some frighteningly narrow country lanes trying to find our way to our next destination).

A formal approach to the house sets it off beautifully and the other garden areas include a grass labyrinth, ancient bowling alley, a woven – fenced kitchen garden and some more recent sloping borders containing a mix of food and ornamental plants – I imagine this might be something of a challenge at harvest time! Of particular interest is an Elisabethan garden in the making, based on a ceiling design in the house as a nod to the sort of layout the original might have been based on, records of what actually existed not being available. This was in the course of setting out when we visited, but a very good artist’s impression shows how this will look – a formal pattern of Box hedging enclosing lavender and roses, which will be a great addition to these lovely gardens.

And the house is of great interest too, with some very friendly and helpful guides to show you around and help you (and any younger members of your party) try on suits of chain mail and pose with a longbow!

Further information:

National Trust web site

Old School Gardener

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Plant Heritage

In Sussex they may well have done so judging by the statues on the Centurion Way.  This cycle route runs from West Dean to near the Roman Palace of Fishbourne on the outskirts of Chichester and provides a welcome alternative to the busy A roads.  On Sunday Mercy met me in Midhurst and we took this route and Salterns Way which takes the cyclist out onto the flats leading to the Witterings.  I am cycling to Amsterdam this coming weekend, so this was to be my final training ride, combined with a visit to Andrew Gaunt’s National Collection of Hedychium.

Transported to the tropics by the scent inside the huge glass house, we were able to see a huge number of cultivars in shades of the brightest orange through yellows and pinks to white.  Some are hardy enough to grow outside – I mulch mine heavily and they have survived the last…

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