One of the sloping beds

One of the sloping beds

My previous article on Trengwainton covered the wider gardens and grounds as well as some historical background. Today I want to focus on the extensive walled gardens, built by previous owner, Rose Price. This is said to follow the dimensions of Noah’s Ark- though why, I’m not sure.

It also seems to have been created as a response to the period of persistently cooler weather known as the ‘Maunder Minimum’ (or otherwise known as the ‘prolonged sunspot minimum’). This period- starting in about 1645 and continuing to about 1715 – was when  sunspots became exceedingly rare. The term was named after the 19th Century solar astronomer Edward D. Maunder who studied how sunspot latitudes changed with time. The Maunder Minimum coincided with the middle—and coldest part—of the ‘Little Ice Age’, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters. recent research has established a causal link between low sunspot activity and cold winters.

The surrounding garden wall prevented warm air from escaping from the garden on cool nights, thereby allowing frost-sensitive fruit trees to survive, despite the cooling climate. The walled garden is also interesting for its use of sloping beds – orientated to take advantage of the sunny aspect and so aiding the warming of the soil and creating beneficial growing conditions. 

The gardens – there are separate walled enclosures rather than one large expanse – are both a fascinating horticultural legacy and also a modern-day guide to good food and flower growing. There are demonstration plots and little corners showing different sorts of container growing, raised beds, nectar – rich flowers, a DIY device for creating liquid plant food etc. A wide range of food is still grown here as well as beautiful ‘cottage garden’ style flower borders, orchards and a demonstration plot conjuring up the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign of the second World War. And while we were there the Gardens sported a delightful display of home-made ‘fairytale’ characters which amused and enchanted the young children who were eager to discover the next character on their way round!

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Related article: West Country Gardens: Hydrangea Heaven at Trengwainton