Oliver's Cornwall
Gardens
Some of Britain's Finest

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PAGE CONTENTS
Antony Woodland
Bonython
Bosvigo
Caerhays Castle
Carwinion
Chygurno
Cotehele
 Creed House
Enys
Glendurgan
Headland
Heligan
Hidden Valley
Ince Castle
Japanese Garden
Ken-Caro
Ladock House
Lamorran
Lanhydrock
Long Cross
Marsh Villa
Mount Edgcumbe
Northwood
Old Mill Herbary
Pencarrow
Penjerrick
Pentillie Castle
Pine Lodge
Pinsla
Prideaux Place
Probus
Readymoney Cove
 Roseland House
Trebah
Trebartha
Tregothnan
 Tregrehan
 Trelissick
 Tremenheere
 Trengwainton
Trevarno
 Trewidden
Trewithen
Trewoofe House
 Trewoofe Orchard
 Trist House
 
 
 
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© Copyright Oliver Howes 2016
Page updated 09 December 2016


Antony Woodland Garden
We had been round Antony Woodland Garden previously but I got few photos then.  On this occasion, in April 2007, I took plenty of photos, so I felt it was time for a report.  Antony House and its garden are in the care of the National Trust.  The Woodland Garden remains in the ownership of the Pole-Carew family but is free to members of the NT when the house is open.  If you go to Antony, on the Rame Peninsula, to visit house, garden and woodland garden you would do well to allow most of a day;  the full circuit of the woodland garden is the better part of five miles and there is a lot to linger over.  The woodland garden has its own car park, close to the warden's lodge.  The western part of the garden has the major spring interest:  hundreds of superb camellias, abundant magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons, lovely mature woodland with carpets of primroses and bluebells.  For part of the way the path follows the River Lynher with views to Ince Castle and Anthony Passage.  Sculpture is dotted around and you see a Georgian bath house.  The eastern part overlooks the Lynher and the Hamoaze with views to Trematon Castle and the Tamar Bridges.  Just off the path is an ancient dovecot.  A lovely place for a fairly serious walk.  And, if you are visiting the house, its more formal garden is a delight, too.
Antony is signed off A374 close to Torpoint
Primroses line the Camellia Walk - and other parts, too
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Bonython Garden
The Bonythons are one of those ancient Cornish families that seem to have disappeared off the Cornish map.  They had been at Bonython on the Lizard since the 10th century or earlier and their estate stretched across the Lizard from Poldhu Cove in the west to the Helford River in the north-east.  In 1585 one Captain Bonython commanded one of Ralegh's ships that founded the colony at Roanoke;  Bonythons settled in America and more made their names in Australia.  In the 19th century the estate was acquired by the Lyles and in 1999 by the Nathans.  Bonython is a double case of restoration.  The handsome Georgian house, of silvery granite, was restored by Robert Lyle in the late 20th century;  the continuing garden project is the work of Mrs. Nathan.  Bonython, which we visited in September 2006, is very much a summer garden.  An avenue of luxuriant hydrangeas leads towards the house.  A walled garden is divided in two, the upper part with herbaceous borders, the lower with vegetables and flowers for cutting.  Lawns lead to a series of lakes, one sparsely planted, one under development, the middle one richly planted with South African grasses, betraying the owners' origin.  Summer 2006 had been very dry so the lakes were weedy and we did not see the garden at its best;  we will revisit in high summer. 
The upper walled garden at Bonython
Signed from Cury Cross Lanes on A3083 Helston to Lizard Town
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Bosvigo Garden
It is relatively unusual to find a conventional summer garden in Cornwall.  And there are very few town gardens open to the public.  Bosvigo, however, is both summer and town garden, situated towards the western edge of Truro.  The three acre garden, around a Georgian house, makes a pleasant contrast with the standard Cornish spring garden.  Instead of the expected informal ‘Himalayan’ ravine, ablaze with rhododendrons in spring, Bosvigo is an orderly spring and summer garden whose style is of themed areas, walled and enclosed, intimate and precise.  A ‘hot’ garden features red, orange and yellow plants;  the Vean garden is of white and delicate yellow;  elsewhere are areas of pink, mauve and purple.  Though minor in its importance, this is a place of colour, vibrancy and profusion but, when we visited in 2003, maintenance seemed a bit disapppointing in places.  Tucked away as it is, the garden is probably best found from the A390 Redruth road;  turn down Dobbs Lane just after Sainsbury's and you will fnd it on the left when the road becomes Bosvigo Lane.  The garden is easily accessible from most of Cornwall.  As it is relatively little visited the small amount of parking should pose no problem.
Border by the tile-hung house
Bosvigo Lane, Truro, off Dobbs Lane, off A390 Redruth
May 2014 -Nicole Collis writes:  The garden is definitely a Spring garden, commencing its 'open' season with a show of hellebores in February and following with delightful spring flowering perennials. A large variety of hostas, some in pots but most happily unchewed, in the ground. The owner has a gardener just for trimming hedges and cutting lawns, the rest she does herself.  One of the gardens is dedicated to her late daughter and, I must say, is a credit to the creator.  At the driveway entrance there is a little wooden sign inviting you to visit the garden owned by her neighbour.  A complete contrast, brightly coloured flowers, a couple of ponds with giant Koi Carp too big to be poached by the visiting heron and a chance to buy small potted alpines. A warmth here that is not present in Bosvigo.
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Caerhays Castle Garden
This is Cornwall's most  specialised - and probably best - spring garden.  Open only  mid-Feb to May it boasts the finest imaginable collection of camellias, azaleas, magnolias and rhododendrons.  The problem is to hit it when at least two of these are in full bloom.  We visited in February 2004 when camellias were at their best, magnolias just opening and Highland cattle grazing in the park.  We returned in late March:  magnolias were  magnificent, rhodos and azaleas out.  The castle also opens for guided tours but is very Victorian and not important.  Two criticisms:  a detailed plan may have good descriptions but numbering doesn't relate to plant labels - and the garden tearoom and the excellent beach café were closed on both visits!  There is ample car parking by Porthluney Cove. 
April 2009   We usually visit in February or March.  In 2009 it was April and we have never seen it looking better.  The unusual winter and early spring meant almost everything was in bloom at the same time.  Camellias may have been past their best - you would expect that in April - but rhodos, magnolias, pieris and azaleas were looking superb.  But, to our surprise and great pleasure, daffodils were still going strong and yet bluebells were now carpeting the ground.  And this time the café by the beach was serving good egg and bacon baps.
Off the Mevagissey-Veryan road but a bit difficult to find
A perfect camellia in Caerhays Garden
March 2015:  We chose a lovely sunny warm day when magnolias were superb and camellias, tough some past their best, also good.  A few rhodos were in flower and a few of the azaleas were looking good.  Primroses in abundance and some daffodills still blooming.
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Carwinion Garden
In April 2008 we took advantage of a Western Morning News '2 for the price of 1' offer to visit a couple of spring gardens near Mawnan Smith in the general area between Falmouth and the Helford River.  Neither Carwinion nor Penjerrick could be said to rate anywhere compared to nearby Glendurgan and Trebah.  Carwinion is perhaps an acceptable 1½ hour visit for its £4 entry charge.  Penjerrick is appalling value even at its lower £2.50;  more of that elsewhere.  Carwinion was the creation of the cadet branch of the Rogers family of Penrose, now a lovely estate owned by the National Trust, and was laid out in the late 19th century.  As is usual in these parts, the 12 acre garden runs down a valley from the house.  Unusually, if you exit at the bottom, you can (as we did) follow a footpath down through woodland to the Helford River at Porth Saxon.  As you might expect of a garden with a bamboo nursery, that plant rather dominates.  There are, however, also some good rhodos, azaleas and pieris and, early in the year, swathes of bluebells, primrose and anemones.  Ponds are fairly well maintained but feature gardens - Quarry and Japanese - are disappointing;  the Secret garden is better.  Keep an eye out for some impressive trees, good tree ferns and vast gunneras.
Colourful azaleas on the Island on the driveway
Leave Mawnan Smith S towards Mawnan;  end of village on right 
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Chygurno at Lamorna
In May 2008 we had a busy gardens day.  There are three gardens in the Lamorna Valley - Chygurno, Trewoofe House and Trewoofe Orchard - and, since we would be passing it on the way to Lamorna, we decided to include Trereife as well.  Of the four, Trewoofe Orchard was the undoubted star, Chygurno the most remarkable, Trewoofe House pleasant but not outstanding, and Trereife a waste of time (with one honourable exception).  A great bonus was that bluebells were everywhere.
Chygurno really is a remarkable garden, set as it is high above the foot of the Lamorna Valley and with views across the valley and to the sea and Carn Du Point.  It is remarkable for its steepness, too;   it is long and (on the map) fairly narrow but falls away sharply almost down to the road.  Perhaps even more remarkable is that when the Moules bought the house in 1998 it had been empty for 20 years and the site was wilderness.  Winding paths and steep steps (no handrails) take you around and down the garden which is luxuriantly planted, mostly with exotic plants.  This is a garden for both spring and summer.  First rhodos, azaleas and aeoniums, then tree ferns, banana plants and Canary foxgloves, later hydrangeas and agapanthus.  Steepness means that this is not an easy garden but it is well worthwhile.
End of Lamorna Cove hotel lane.  Open Apr to Aug, 1 or 2 days a week
Azaleas, aeonmiums, pines and a view of Carn Du point
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Cotehele Garden

The garden of Cotehele House is really two.  Behind the house, on the west, is a relatively formal compartmented garden within the old walled garden, recently restored.  Here is a pool, herbaceous borders, orchard and annuals for cutting.  Linking this to the valley garden on the east side is a sloping meadow, ablaze with hundreds of varieties of daffodils in spring and dotted with crocuses, anemones and fritillaries.  The Tamar Valley was once prime daffodil growing territory, the early crop exported to London by water from Cotehele Quay.  A grove of acers finally links meadow and terrace.  Below the formal eastern rose terrace lies the ten-acre valley garden, a delight when its magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas are in flower.  Later come impressive hydrangeas and superb dogwoods.  At any time you can enjoy the view of an ancient dovecote across a lily pond, the palms, ferns, tree ferns, bamboos and gunnera.  Views continue eastwards to take in the Calstock railroad viaduct over the River Tamar.  A stream runs down the valley, through a series of small pools bordered by king cups, irises and candelabra primulas.  Leaving the garden at the bottom end, a path leads left along the Tamar to Calstock, right down to Cotehele Quay with its small maritime museum, tearooms and visitor centre.
Dovecot in the valley water garden
Location:  signed by lanes from A390 2 miles W of River Tamar
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Creed House Garden
This must surely be Cornwall's most self-effacing garden.  Although open to booked groups and occasionally for charity, you will find little mention of it in the usual sources.  And there are none of the usual signs pointing to the garden, not even to the hamlet of Creed.  An ill signed turning, about a third of the way up Grampound's main street, is actually Creed Lane.  A mile down that you turn left just after the church and turn in the first gate on the left.  It is worth doing so, as we found in Aigust 2006.  The Croggons came to Creed House, the former Rectory, in 1974.  The garden had been neglected for years and it was some while before they discovered extra buildings hidden under brambles and bindweed.  Since then they have been steadily planting and improving and are now clearing some additional woodland.  There are fine specimen trees - both young and old, several small ponds, a stream garden, a bog garden, shrub and herbaceous borders and a couple of lawns.  Behind the stable yard is a walled garden with colourful planting around a lawn.  The overall effect is very tranquil.  Whilst here do take a look at the light and airy church, nestling below the garden, where my father's cousin Bertie was rector for several years before becoming rector at  St. Just in Roseland.  We visited Creed again in June 2016, found the garden colourful and well tended and enjoyed tea and cakes on the terrace.
Location:  1 mile south of Grampound by unsigned lane
We enjoyed tea on the terrace
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Enys Garden near Penryn

In the same family since Norman times, and reputedly the first Cornish garden to receive public attention, Enys seems to be spoken of with something like awe.  Garden writer Timothy Mowle refers to it as 'a sleeping beauty of a garden'.  Douglas Ellory Pett, Cornish garden expert, has a brief description in his Cornwall Gardens Guide.  So, learning that a Trust had been formed to restore Enys and had applied for Heritage Lottery funding for that purpose, and that it was open a couple of days a week from March to October (and on the first Sunday of each month), we thought that, despite references to 'the first stages of romantic decay', it could be worth visiting.  We did so on the first Sunday of May 2006.  So did about a thousand others.  We are sorry to say that we were very disappointed.  We should have guessed, when we passed the gloomy-looking four-square Regency house, looking for all the world like a run-down Anglo-Irish home, that little had been done to the garden except the clearance of a few paths.  We would have been right.  Nowhere looked as if any effort had yet been made and few rhodos, azaleas or magnolias were in bloom.  The guide leaflet was misleading and most people were losing their way in woodland that should have been marked off-limits.  The lakes that Pett refers to were not accessible.  Frankly, nothing was worth seeing except the wonderful blankets of bluebells in Parc Lye. 
Our view:  If funding obtained, Enys  may be worth seeing in 5-10 years
Bluebells in Parc Lye
In late March 2008 I visited Carclew near Perranarworthal, open under NGS aegis.  It reminded me of Enys, a disaster area needing 10 years restoration work.  As it is, half the site is closed off, the rest is muddy and gloomy.  The ornamental lake is in a terrible state.
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Glendurgan Garden
Cornwall's south coast is full of sub-tropical valley and ravine gardens, many created by the Falmouth Quaker ship-owning Fox family.   Glendurgan was the work of Alfred Fox, nearby Trebah of Charles.  Glendurgan's  40 acres run down a valley to the tiny hamlet of Durgan (you can rent a National Trust cottage there) on the Helford River.  Specimen trees and tree ferns are quite superb.  In spring daffodils, primroses and bluebells provide good early colour;  they are followed rapidly by giant magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons.  Hydrangeas, other shrubs and wild flowers provide summer colour.  There is a large maze of low laurel hedges. As ever with the National Trust, maintenance is immaculate. For a pub lunch try the Red Lion at Mawnan Smith or (at quiet times) the Ferryboat Inn at Helford Passage.  Our preference was the Red Lion but the Ferryboat, after change of hands, is now quite classy.  There is an alfresco tea shop and ample parking.  The garden is signed from Mawnan Smith village, as is adjacent Trebah.  If you are a spring garden enthusiast, perhaps you will make a day of the two.  If you are interested in following up the Fox Quaker association try the charming Come-to-Good Meeting House near the National Trust's Trellisick Garden. 
The maze at Glendurgan
Signed from Mawnan Smith, south of Penryn.  Glendurgan revisited 2014
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Glendurgan and Trebah revisited 2014
Living, as we do, 40 miles or so from Mawnan Smith, it is not often that we get to see the Helford River ravine gardens.  However, a free pass to Trebah encouraged us that way and National Trust membership added Glendurgan.  We had expected to prefer Glendurgan to Trebah and were surprised that it didn’t work that way.  In the event we found Glendurgan a little colourless and short on views while Trebah seemed full of colour with many delightful views.  Glendurgan’s prime feature must be its impressive and well-kept maze, best seen from the high path on the east side of the ravine.  Trebah’s is the view north up the ravine from the beach end of the garden, looking across a small lake and past massed hydrangeas in the valley and mature trees on the slopes up to the house.  In both gardens we set out on the high western path and returned first on the high eastern path and then on the low central path.  In Glendurgan this allows you to see the Schoolroom Summerhouse, in Trebah you get to see the impressive new stone amphitheatre, built in 2014 and already the venue of the Miracle Theatre’s production of ‘The Tempest’.  We concluded that the essential difference between the two gardens is that Glendurgan is presented ‘take it ot leave it’ while Trebah is very much a commercial enterprise with shop, plant centre and a good large restaurant/café.  As members we would like to prefer Glendurgan but have to plump for Trebah.
Glendurgan's banana plant
Back to Glendurgan
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Headland Garden at Polruan (Closed from 2015)

We had intended to visit the remarkable Headland Garden at Polruan for a long time.  It was only when we learned that the garden at Readymoney Cove would be open during Fowey's 2006 Daphne du Maurier Festival that we saw the chance to combine the two.  We parked above Readymoney Cove (expensive), walked down to the garden there, then took the little passenger ferry across to Polruan to see Headland Garden.  There has been a garden of sorts here since the house was built around 1900.  However, what you see now was very much the creation of Jean and John Hill from 1974.  How anyone could create a garden on so precipitous, rocky and exposed a site is almost beyond belief.  But the result is quite remarkable, narrow paths - and it is said 500 steps - wind up and down the site, through surprisingly lush plantings, protected by Monterey pine, mountain ash, escallonia and euonymous.  Exotics like agave, aeonium, mesembryanthemum and aloe sprout from rock crevices.  Red hot poker, osteospermum, hebe and the baby sun-rose all flourish.  In spring primroses, foxgloves and bluebells grow wild.  Views are ravishing - up the River Fowey, across the estuary to Fowey, Readymoney and St. Catherine's Castle.  May-Aug Thursdays p.m. in aid of the RNLI. 
Battery Lane, Polruan.  Car parking at top of Battery Lane.
The view across to Readymoney Cove from the garden
CLOSURE:  Sadly Jean Hill died in August 2015.  The house was sold and Headland Garden is no longer open to the public.
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The 'Lost Gardens' of Heligan

Created by Henry Hawkins Tremayne in the late 18th century, Heligan was left untended in 1914 when the estate workers went to war.  Later the house became apartments and the Victorian gardens went to rack and ruin.  Tim Smit started restoration in 1991.  Astonishingly, much original design remained under years of rampant growth.  Vast areas have been revealed, restored and replanted.  Of over 200 acres, the estate divides conveniently into four.  Most accessible are the Northern Gardens with colourful borders in the Sundial Garden;  immaculate vegetables, fruit and flowers for cutting;  melons and pineapples in the Melon Yard;  a small Italian Garden and a Northern Summerhouse Garden;  a Rockery Ravine;  and giant rhodos in spring.  A long walk leads to The Jungle where a steep boardwalk guides you through lush sub-tropical growth with pools, giant gunnera, tree ferns and bamboos.  A separate path leads to the Lost Valley with mature trees, small lakes and charcoal kilns.  On the eastern periphery are a hilly 'Farm Walk', wildflower meadows and a Wildlife Project.  Entrance is expensive so value demands that you cover at least the Northern Gardens and Jungle.  There are simple food outlets at two locations.  There is a good farm shop in the car park.  Heligan is a vast operation and gets very busy.  Stout footwear advisable.
Water lilies in a pool in the Lost Valley
Signed from B3273 St. Austell-Mevagissey.  Heligan re-visited 2014
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We couldn't resist Heligan's May 2007 offer of free entry for Cornish residents. We nearly didn't go in;  it was pelting down when we arrived but, by the time we had finished Jane's excellent home made pasties, the clouds lifted and the sun came out.  We did the whole garden and spent three hours there;  you could well take longer.  Since we were last there not a lot has changed but much has matured beautifully.  In the Northern Garden the Ravine has filled out well and is now a marvellous rockery;  the restored Greenhouse from Pencalenick was new to us;  and we were delighted to see the 'handkerchief' bracts on the Davidia Involucrata in the Sundial Garden.  The Jungle really does feel like one now and the boardwalk all round it is a superb way to see it.  The Lost Valley has matured most and, where clearance had left it bare, now it is a lush paradise.  Catering remains simple but good, the car park is now vast and Lobbs Farm Shop has been extended and is now a venue in itself.


Heligan Re-visited September 2014
We were lucky enough to have vouchers for free entry to Heligan and used them in mid-Septemer 2014.  In a way we were glad that we didn't have to pay for entry as we were disappointed in several ways.  We started with lunch in the restaurant before entering the garden.  Ham and leek pie was cold and featured stringy ham.  Salad was mostly thinly sliced, unidentifiable, tasteless raw vegetables.  Only the potatoes were enjoyed.  So to the gardens.  We did the whole 200 acres, starting in the Northern Garden;  with rhodos long finished, there was little colour except in the Sundial Garden, the Northern Summerhouse Garden and the Italian Garden.  Little of the Flower Garden was worth seeing and only half the Vegetable Garden impressed.  On to the Lost Valley;  we were disappointed at how overgrown things were, for instance the water lilies in the photo above were hidden by spreading reeds.  The charcoal burners camp was still well done as was a charcoal sculpture.  We made our way back up through the Jungle, badly overgrown in places but with a nice rope bridge we hadn't seen before.  Then, after tea in the Steward's House - over £7 for 2 tea bags in paper cups and a single scone - we returned to the Northern Garden for the Ravine.  Here growth was rather scruffy and the path was very rough after the winter storms.  Perhaps it was our mistake to visit in September;  we shall return next Spring.
Back to Heligan
Red hot pokers in the Sundial Garden
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Hidden Valley at Treesmill near Tywardreath
We first visted Hidden Valley Garden in July 2006 and were disappointed in what we saw.  We had really visited too early in the garden's history as the Howards had only moved here from Yorkshire in 1999 and had spent most of the intervening period clearing and preparing the scrubby and water-logged site.  In  2011 our friend Nicole visited with her garden club and enthused about Hidden Valley.  So, on August bank holiday weekend we decided to see for ourselves. We were delighted that we did because this time we enthused, too.  It is not a large garden but its four acres are full of colour and interest.  We particularly enjoyed the hot border and oval bed (see photo) and the banks of massed dahlias.  We were too late for the iris garden but liked its new well house.  The garden is open on three August days for the NGS.  Then and during the Du Maurier Festival in nearby Fowey in May they serve cream teas;  otherwise it's make your own tea.  Plants for sale are good and have been raised by Tricia Howard in their own nursery.  In season there are blackcurrants and raspberries to self-pick.  The moderate entry charge allows free return during the rest of the year.  There are two well-rated self catering holiday apartments.  We enjoyed Hidden Valley this time and again in April 2012.
The hot border and the oval bed
 Nearby in Par you should also visit Marsh Villa.
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Ince Castle at Trematon
In mid March 2009 we were heading for St. Mellion to visit the garden at Pentillie Castle which had featured in Channel 4's Country House Rescue and we were keen to see what had been done to the landscape garden.  On the way we heard on the car radio that nearby Ince Castle garden was open for the NGS so, after lunch, we visited Ince as well.  We were delighted that we did as, unlike Pentillie's party restored landscape, this was a proper garden.  Ince Castle - not really a castle - was built around 1650 by Henry Killigrew and is now the home of Lord and Lady Boyd.  Their garden, overlooking the River Lynher, is approached by a long drive, lined by daffodils when we visited.  It is generally level and easy to get around (unlike Pentillie).  The garden surrounds the house, with lovely woodland to its south-west.  At our visit, outstanding features were the magnolias, hellebores, camellias and daffs.  To the south side is a formal garden with shrubs.  From here you can see Antony Woodland Garden across the river.  In 2009 the garden was open one day a month, for the NGS, from March to July and should be worth seeing in each month.  Simple teas are done by the local WI, there is ample parking but the toilets are a little difficult to find. 
For opening dates and excellent photo gallery go to Ince Castle web site
From A38 take Trematon road (signed) and bear left for Ince
Ince Castle from the south lawn
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The Japanese Garden at St. Mawgan

This is an unexpected place to find in Cornwall where, when you think of gardens, you first think of spring gardens.  Essentially it is a showplace for the attached nursery.  We visited too early in the year to do the garden justice though perhaps that meant that we able to see the form better for the lack of flowering content.  We must revisit when the azaleas are in bloom. 
Compared with our favourite Japanese gardens - at Kildare in Ireland and Tatton Park in Cheshire - this is of relatively minor interest.  A pleasant enough garden but lacking any outstanding features.  And we have to comment that maintenance was not what you might hope for, particularly at a showcase for a nursery.  Perhaps it will be better next time.  Anyway, we enjoyed walking around St. Mawgan, a lovely village, and walked down the valley to Mawgan Porth and back. There is a pub and tea-rooms in St. Mawgan.  If you walk to Mawgan Porth, there is a pub and café there and a seasonal café on the way there.
Tea House and Carp Pool
Central in St. Mawgan village
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Ken-Caro Garden near Liskeard
Although Ken-Caro Garden is open from March for snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and camellias, followed by March and April magnolias and rhodos, we feel that this is really a summer garden.  So we made our first visit in late July 2006, the time of year when the hostas, astlibes, day lilies, ligularias, hydrangeas and herbaceous plants have come into their own. 
Kenneth and Caroline Willcocks (hence Ken-Caro) started their garden in 1970, planting trees and hedges for shelter on this high windswept site on the very fringes of Bodmin Moor.  Since then they have steadily extended their garden to the point where it now covers four acres - it seems more, thanks to cunningly winding paths on the sloping site.  Superb views into Devon, north-west to Kit Hill and Dartmoor, south-west beyond Plymouth.  This is a delightful garden, enhanced by three ponds, thoughtful planting and quite unexpected juxtaposition of strong colours.  Maintenence is good, thanks to one full-time and several part-time staff.  It surprised us that we were the only visitors on a warm sunny day.  Ken-Caro garden deserves many more to enjoy its charms.  There is a pub just down the road in St. Ive but we preferred the Crow's Nest near Trethevy Quoit. 
The acid soil produces very deep blue hydrangeas
2012 - The house is on the market.  Will the garden close?
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Ladock House Garden
We don't usually review private gardens that open only on one day a year (open also for groups by appointment) but we were so impressed by the garden at Ladock House, not far from Trewithen Garden, that we just had to include a description and a photo.  The occasion was a late April 2007 opening under the worthy National Gardens Scheme.  When the Holborrows came to this former rectory in the 1960s, it wasn't only the house that was in need of loving care.  The garden was something of an overgrown jungle and, in due course, the woodland was thinned and scrub removed.  This being Cornwall, and the soil somewhat acid, major planting was of rhodos and azaleas.  Paths lead through what is now relatively light woodland, revealing all the time more enticing views of the fine collection of rhodos and azaleas.  Thanks to a few hedges, the impression is rather of a compartmented garden, though much less so than Sissinghurst or Hidcote.  The range of colour is surprisingly wide, and there are even several yellow rhodos, amongst our great favourites.  Timing of this opening was good, not just for the shrubs but also for the bluebell walk, still lovely if rather colonised by white alium.  We spent over 1½ hours wandering then enjoyed a good tea, and a pleasant chat with the owners, in the sheltered courtyard. 
Colourful borders near the house
Ladock is on B3275 Penhale to Probus
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Lamorran House Garden

The jewel of Cornish coastal villages, and a long-standing favourite of ours, St. Mawes is an attractive small sailing resort on the Roseland peninsula, with its own sheltered harbour at the mouth of the little Percuil River.  The village is bright and colourful;  white-washed cottages under roofs of slate or thatch, and flowers everywhere, enhance its distinctly Mediterranean charms.  Above the village, at its western end, one of Henry VIII's coastal castles looks across the broad waterway of Carrick Roads to its twin atop Pendennis Point by the busy port of Falmouth.  Just up the hill from the castle is lovely Lamorran House Garden.  Created since 1982 by the Dudley-Cookes, it too has a distinctly Mediterranean feeling with terraces, statuary, mock temple ruins and exotic planting.  It also has a very secret feeling as narrow paths wind down through luxuriant growth:  Chusan palms, Himalyan fan palms, brilliant azaleas, rich succulents, bright acers, agaves, aloes and mesembryanthemums - and water features.  At its best early in its season;  later it gets over luxuriant but less colourful.  If we have a complaint it is that Lamorran opens too infrequently. 
Chusan Palms by Carp Pool
 On Upper Castle Road, the western approach to St. Mawes
View towards St. Anthony
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Lanhydrock Garden

Because, when we go to Lanhydrock, we usually go to walk the estate - in woodland and by the River Fowey - we tend to forget how lovely the garden is in spring.  But on May Day 2006 we also paid due atention to the garden which really comes in three parts.  Above the house is a Spring Hillside Garden, full of fine rhodos, azaleas, camellias and magnolias.  At the level back of the house and church are more spring shrubs and new herbaceous beds.  At the front and side of the house are lawns, clipped yews and seasonal formal beds.  On our visit the beds set colourful tulips within drifts of forget-me-nots, a delight.  As ever with the National Trust, maintenance is immaculate, despite the numbers that come to enjoy the house, garden and estate.  If you do visit, allow time not just for house and garden but also for a walk down the Avenue and along the river from Respryn Bridge.  There is a restaurant, entered from the courtyard at the side of the house.  In the same courtyard there is also a café.  Car parking is quite some way from the house though disabled drivers can park nearer.  At one time there used to be a vintage chauffeur driven Rolls Royce which operated a shuttle service for a small charge;  now a buggy provides the service. 
Formal tulip beds by Lanhydrock house
See also Lanhydrock House and Estate
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Long Cross Victorian Garden
Long Cross Victorian Garden is not far from our home in Wadebridge - it is at Trelights, near Port Isaac - so a visit was long overdue when we went there in June 2006, after a walk along  the coast path from Pentireglaze Farm to Port Quin.  Cornwall's north coast is a notoriously difficult place to create a garden - exposure to salt-laden winds off the Atlantic ensure that.  So it was quite a feat when Captain Allardyce succeeded in making the garden around his Victorian home high above the sea.  It must have taken him a long time, too, creating a shelter belt with Monterey Pines and planting hedging to protect individual compartments. 
Sadly the garden was much neglected in the latter part of the 20th century, when the house became a hotel.  Equally sadly, the owners' claim that, after 15 years of restoration,  "the gardens are now back to their former glory", is in no way true.  Pines are long past their effective best, leylandii hedges are almost bare, planting is very sparse in places and maintenance is poor.  Only the pool garden has any attractions.  To compound our disappointment, we treated ourselves to a cream tea on the handsome new raised deck.  That was just as bad with poor scones and cheap and tastless jam.  A real disappointment. 
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Marsh Villa near St. Blazey
The Stevens' ancestral farm has been turned into probably Cornwall's finest summer garden.  Since 1985 Judith Stevens has gradually created a compartmented garden of great variety - she was still working on a new rock garden when we were there in April and July 2006.  Specimen trees and escallonia hedges are carefully planted to lead from one area to another - a colourfully bordered Square Garden, a Sunken Garden, underplanted light woodland, a large pond with waterlilies and a path all round.  Beyond the main garden, marshland is being reclaimed and paths cut through it.  Mrs Stephens is always happy to chat with visitors.  Mr. Stevens gives entertaining introductory talks and takes guided tours.  A lovely garden, worth visiting time and again.  Marsh Villa can be a little difficult to find, hidden as it is between St. Blazey, Par and Tywardreath.  It is probably best to approach from the A390, turning south at the St. Blazey traffic lights, then left at the cross roads for about 600 yards.  The garden is on your left just before the railway.  Parking is ample and there are light refreshments near the entrance to the garden.
We try to visit each year and find the garden gets steadily better.
Water lilies cover most of the pond
Between St. Blazey, Par and Tywardreath
We were back at Marsh Villa in May 2009.   It was looking wonderful and the new rockery was maturing nicely. 
Back again in August 2011, combining with visit to Hidden Valley.  Still lovely.  Good value tea with superb cakes. 
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Mount Edgcumbe Gardens and Country Park

Mount Edgcumbe is something of a paradox.  On the one hand there is the House and Earl's Garden, comparatively little visited.  On the other hand there is the country park and 'formal gardens' which act as a lung for the somewhat unprepossessing city of Plymouth which lies across Plymouth Sound.  We have enjoyed (and reviewed) the house in September 2004.  The Earl's Garden, by the house, includes a parterre, shrub borders, sweeping lawns and a shell house.  Previously we had enjoyed the 'formal gardens' and walked the coast path through the park to lunch in Kingsand.  The almost 100 acres of park, all overlooking the water, includes formal gardens in the English, French and Italian styles, informal Rose, American and New Zealand gardens, a National Collection of Camellias, woodland with a variety of mature trees, classical and gothic eyecatchers - Milton's Temple, Lady Emma's Cottage, a folly, an arch and several 'seats' with views.  It also includes nine miles of Cornish Coast Path, from its beginning, where Cremyll ferry disgorges its foot passengers from Plymouth, way past Rame Head - topped by an 11th century chapel - and on into Whitsand Bay.  Three car parks, one in Cremyll, two on the estate, one free.  Good pub in Cremyll, the Edgcumbe Arms, another in Kingsand, the Halfway House.  Tearoom in the Orangery, another near the house.  Park and formal gardens are free;  fee for House and Earl's Garden.
The Italian Garden seen from the Orangery
A38 Plymouth-Liskeard, take A374 (Torpoint), and follow brown signs
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Northwood Farm Water Garden near St. Neot
This is a most surprising place.  The last thing you expect to find at around 700 feet, on the windswept heights of Bodmin Moor, is a luxuriant water garden filled with exotic plants.  But, if you can read a map, and don't mind risking your car on the tiny blind lanes to the north of St. Neot, you will be rewarded with a couple of hours of delight.  Artist Mackenzie Bell and his partner Justin Stubbings acquired the house, a converted former china clay dry, in 2004.  There was a garden with pools but it was then a wilderness.  Now, after taking in a further 2 acres of boggy pasture, there are 8 pools, one with a colourful island, several with sculptures and glorious water lilies.  Planting is eclectic.  The expected marginal plants are mixed with exotics that you might not expect to grow on Bodmin Moor.  The striking blend - and sometimes clash - of colours must owe much to Mack's artist's eye, as must the sculptures, some found pieces, dotted around.  In the main water garden you will also find a great bank of hydrangeas, a bog garden and a wild area.  And don't miss the garden behind the house.  Above a grassy terrace, where we enjoyed a cream tea, are two former granite-walled clay settling tanks, now colourful walled gardens.  In front of the house is Mack's studio where his land and seascapes are on sale.  In the former stables is what must be the 'Loo of The Year'. 
2 miles NE of St. Neot.  Sadly very little opening.  Check NGS site.
Pool with sculptures and water lilies in the lower garden
We visited on a well attended NGS Sunday opening in late July 2008.  We shall definitely go again, perhaps in June for the rhodos, azaleas and camellias.  Northwood Gardens web site seems to have disappeared (August 2012) so it is possible that the garden no longer opens.
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Old Mill Herbary at Helland Bridge

This is an odd one which, while we enjoyed it greatly in May 2006, we are a little reluctant to recommend without more than a few reservations.  The location is an interesting one.  Before the present house was built, a water mill had stood here for centuries, fed by a leat off the River Camel, which flows along the lower side of the garden.  The Whurrs began creating a garden here in 1984 and have worked on it ever since.  We have the feeling that they may have lost heart a bit as maintenance is somewhat less than you might hope.  Old Mill Herbary garden comes in five parts.  By the house are a small water garden and bog garden.  Alongside the river is a long lawn, lightly planted as a young arboretum, all the trees named.  Beyond this is the 'island', an area of light semi-wild woodland, where you wander among birches, crossing many small bridges.  Alongside the lawn is a stream garden, created from the former mill leat.  Above this a steepish bank is terraced with casual beds of shrubs, flowers and herbs - some might be offended by the distinctly erotic sculpture dotted around it.  We may sound a little critical but, in fact, we found it a very enjoyable, tranquil garden.  There is a small car park but no teas or toilets. 
Medieval Helland Bridge seen from the garden
The Whurrs forbid internet photos, hence this one of Helland Bridge
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Pencarrow Garden and Estate

We have been fans of Pencarrow - house, garden and estate - for so long that it surprises me that it is only after a visit in mid-May 2006 that I have got round to posting an item about it.  Our visit was almost accidental.  We had been to see the Old Mill Herbary garden at Helland Bridge, had been unable to get a cup of tea there and decided to get one at the Peacock Tearoom at Pencarrow.  We were glad we did because the bluebells, beneath beeches near the house, were superb. 
You need to look upon Pencarrow as not just a garden but rather as an estate with a garden.  If you have the time and interest, walk the drive as well as the extensive garden.  If not, drive slowly to enjoy the lovely beech woods, the unexpected iron-age fortified farmstead and all the rhododendrons and azaleas on the way to the car park. 
The garden itself divides into two main parts.  Lawns, mature trees and beds at the entrance front and a large formal parterre at the south front.  And a walk through wild-flower woodland to Mole's Garden, a new stream garden, and on to the lake that feeds it and to North American woodland plantings.  If you eat outside the Peacock Tearoom, beware hungry peacocks and doves.  The garden opens in Februry for snowdrops;  later, the bluebells in the beech woodland are quite superb.
Signed from A389 Bodmin to Wadebridge
Just one of Pencarrow's many superb rhododendrons
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Penjerrick
In April 2008 we took advantage of a Western Morning News '2 for the price of 1' offer to visit a couple of spring gardens near Mawnan Smith in the general area between Falmouth and the Helford River.  Neither Carwinion nor Penjerrick could be said to rate anywhere compared to nearby Glendurgan and Trebah.  Carwinion is perhaps an acceptable 1½ hour visit for its £4 entry charge.  Penjerrick is appalling value even at its lower £2.50.  And yet we had had quite high expectations.  A visitor to my web site (I think his name is Tilo) was so taken by Penjerrick that his son Georg created a Penjerrick web site which raves about it and quotes expert Patrick Taylor and a Western Morning News reviewer doing the same.  We don't.  We suspect that the present owner, a descendant of the Robert Were Fox and Barclay Fox who created Penjerrick in the mid 18th century, is resentful that the National Trust refused to accept it in 1990 and wonder whether the present regime of 'benign neglect' stems from that.  The result reflects her 'jungle' philosophy but means that ponds are clogged, paths are deep in mud and few shrubs bloom.  Even by the house, which was the best-kept part of the garden -  with bluebells, azaleas and tall firs - it was thick with dog mess.  We fear that Penjerrick's underlying  philosophy is less benign neglect, more contempt for the paying visitor.
A fallen tree fern is a rare entertaining feature
1 mile south of Budock Water, on the road to Mawnan Smith
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Pentillie Castle near St. Mellion
We learned about Pentillie Castle when we watched the Channel 4 TV series Country House Rescue.  The Coryton family were advised about using their house and estate for a wedding and corporate entertainment business, something that they have now got under way.  What little we saw of the estate on the programme made it look interesting so in mid March we attended their second garden open day.  Pentillie was built by James Tillie in 1698 and was remodelled for the Corytons by William Wilkins in 1810 (it was again remodelled in the 1960s), at which time Humphrey Repton had a hand in landscaping the grounds.  This is definitely not a garden in the conventional sense of the word.  It is rather a scenic landscape with eyecatchers and an awful lot of scenery to enjoy.  A lot of clearance work has been done but there is a long way to go.  There are four major features.   The American Garden has too much laurel, ample rhodos but little sign of camellias, azaleas or magnolias.  The Walled Kitchen Garden was badly overgrown  and hardly worth seeing.  The riverside is a delight with its cottage and bathing hut.  And the walk to the mausoleum offers some of the finest views over the River Tamar.  Despite the run down aspect of so much, we spent several most enjoyable hours wandering around free of restriction.  As long as you are not expecting to see much in bloom, and enjoy walking, this is well worth a visit on one of their rare opening days.
The bathing hut on the bank of the River Tamar
Signed from A388, 1 mile south of St. Mellion
 If Pentillie's wedding and corporate entertainment business organisation is half as good as their garden opening organisation, they must be assured of success.  They had 2000 visitors in 2 days and managed everything superbly.  Parking around 400 cars a day could have been chaotic but worked like a charm.  After Pentillie we also visited Ince Castle garden
UPDATE:  APRIL 2009   Apparently Pentillie's second open weekend in April was an even greater success.  3000 visitors came during the two days and this time everything was in bloom, the late Spring having caught up at last.   Bed & Breakfast:  Restoration of  bedrooms was completed in May 2009 and they are now doing B&B from July to September.  The rooms look good on Pentillie's web site.
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Pine Lodge Garden and Pinetum Park
My original 2003 review of Pine Lodge
A varied garden, much admired by those of my American visitors (when I was still working) though otherwise surprisingly under-rated.  Within Pine Lodge's thirty acres are formal gardens, herbaceous borders, ferns, shrubs, spring woodland and an attractive new pinetum.  Statuary is dotted around;  one piece gives its name to the colourful 'Slave' Garden, another is of a prancing horse, another of a tiny engine house.  You will also find several water features - a koi pond with cascades, a water garden, a frog pond, a newt pond, a lake with black swans and a bog garden.  A new Japanese garden already feels surprisingly mature.  Plants are comprehensively labelled but the labels may not always be readable.  The gardener is Shirly Clemo;  husband Ray Clemo is a granite fanatic so watch out for unexpected granite features including massive millstones in the courtyards and a bell turret at one edge of the field.  Ray is also a gentleman:  when I visited with four Americans in May 2004, he gave them a free personal tour.  This is a fine garden with year-long interest but under-visited. 
Much has happened to Pine Lodge since our original visit in 2003 and we have returned several times at different times of year.  Below is an update which includes news from visits in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014.
On A390, E side of St. Austell, near Eden turning.   Pine Lodge Revisited
A view of the Koi Pool
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Pine Lodge Revisited 2008 to 2014
In 2008 (or was it 2009?) the Clemos sold Pine Lodge Garden and Pinetum to Chang Li.  At this time Shirley Clemo had recently completed her new Winter Garden, dedicated to the memory of her brother Bryan.  It took three years to complete and its scale explains why.  Even then, needing time to fill out, it was already impressive.  Our most recent visit to Pine Lodge was in September 2014.  By that time the winter garden had matured and filled out superbly.  The stag statue which had stood rather lonely amongst rocks in 2009 was now surrounded by luxuriant heathers and shrubs.  Colourful flowers and shrubs were everywhere.  We had visited Pine Lodge again in 2010 for the snowdrops.  At that time, going round the rest of the garden, we had felt that maintenance was poor.  Not so on our September 2014 visit when all was immaculate.  We have always enjoyed the Pinetum, even when it was in its infancy.  Now it is maturing nicely and we were astonished by how varied its colours were.  We had both lunch and tea in the (independently owned) restaurant.  It had changed hands since 2010 but was still as good - and as good value - as ever.  You can eat in the restaurant without having to pay the garden entry charge;  many local people do.  We also met new owner Chang Li and congratulated him on his care of Pine Lodge.
A small corner of the large Pinetum
Back to Pine Lodge
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Pinsla Garden

Compared with Cornwall's many major gardens, this one, Pinsla near Bodmin, is decidedly minor.  When we went in mid October 2003 we were their only visitors.  We rather enjoyed having the place to ourselves, though Pinsla's claims to be a combination of Utopia, Post Modernism and ideal English gardening struck us as a little pretentious.  We found it to be a very pleasant, casual acre and a half of mixed planting around a charming lodge cottage - but no more.  The 'sculpture' is largely best ignored.  There is a good value nursery;  good teas served in the garden.
The Cottage in its garden setting
Late Feb to Oct daily
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Prideaux Place Garden
We had greatly enjoyed a house tour of Prideaux Place a few years ago.  Later we learned that the gardens, which had disappointed us then, were under restoration under the aegis of Tom Petherick of Heligan fame.  So in July 2008 we combined a walk from Harlyn Bay to Padstow with a visit to Prideaux Place Garden.  We were delighted that so much that had been closed to us before was now open.  A sign led us across the bridge over the road to the quarry garden (still to be restored) and to the deer park (a small herd grazing and views over the Camel Estuary to Roughtor and Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor).  Not far from the deer park entrance is the newly discovered well that may be St. Petroc's original holy well while, at the edge of the lawn is an ancient Cornish Cross.  A woodland walk then leads round to the formal garden.  Sensibly no attempt has been made to recreate the original;  instead a fountain pool with water lilies is surrounded by simple box-edged beds set in lawned areas.  A massive amount of clearing has been done in the woodland areas, an avenue of limes has been planted as have spring shrubs and bulbs.  The restoration still has some way to go to reach maturity but is well worth seeing, most particularly in conjunction with the house tour.  We enjoyed our usual cream tea on the front terrace.
Open Easter to early Oct, Su-Th 12.30 to 5. 
Fountain Pool in the Formal Garden
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Probus Demonstration Garden

Describing itself as 'The Really Useful Garden', Probus Garden was established during the 1960s by Cornwall County Council.  Its management was later taken over by the Friends of Probus Garden.  Sadly visitor numbers have been poor and now there are worries for its future.  The County Council, which still owns the site, has done a deal with a Wadebridge garden centre to build a vast garden centre on part of the site while retaining the demonstration gardens.  The Friends fear their garden, lovingly cared for by one full time gardener and twenty volunteers, will be 'Chelseafied'.  But the garden centre owner insists the commercial link is essential to its future. 
Regardless of fears for the future, this is certainly a place well worth seeing now - and in the future, we hope.  Among its best features - apart from the superb demonstration aspects - are a 'colour wheel' herbaceous garden, a scented garden, a small Japanese garden, a winter garden and exotics, grasses, herbs, bamboos, clematis and hydrangeas.  An entertaining feature is a raised map of Cornwall, rocks showing the county's geology.  There is ample parking, a small shop and a tearoom.  Sadly, when acquired by Trelawney Garden Centres, nothing happened for years except that the garden, now closed, became ruinous
The 'Colour Wheel' Garden
Just off A390 St. Austell to Truro, near Trewithen Garden entrance
Update October 2014:  Trelawney, who now own Probus, have announced that work is starting on a new garden centre at Probus.  As part of this new enterprise they promise to restore and redevelop tha now abandoned Demonstration Garden.  Good news.  Update June 2016:  Work is going on at the garden site but it looks suspiciously as if it is being developed as something other than garden.  If that is the case, it would be a disgrace.
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Readymoney Cove

Open only during Fowey's Daphne du Maurier Festival in the latter part of May, the Reads' private garden, right by the beach in Readymoney Cove, is a casual, lush delight.  Where Headland Garden (now closed) across the Fowey estuary, has had to work to create protection against the elements, Readymoney's south facing steep valley creates an ideal micro-climate for early and luxuriant growth - which suits their semi-wild style.  Teas are good and the Reads are charming.  Daphne du Maurier rented the house in 1942. 
 
2010:  The house is for sale.  There must be doubt about future opening.
2012:  The garden, sadly, seems not to open any more. 
2016:  Now apparently open a few summer days.  See NGS web site
Lush borders are a prominent feature
 Beware, nearest parking is expensive. 
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Roseland House Garden at Chacewater
We wouldn't go out of our way for this garden but, as an August 2007 Sunday NGS charity opening visit, it made a pleasant enough brief excursion.  Essentially this is the Pridhams advertisement for their important clematis nursery and it is normally open two afternoons a week in summer.  When we visited we were too late for most of the clematis but we enjoyed the two pools and might visit again when clematis, wisteria and honeysuckles are at their best.
Roseland House - the small pool just inside the gate
 
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Trebah Garden

The renowned Fox family had a hand in the creation of many of Cornwall's finest gardens.  Trebah, created by Charles Fox during the 1820s and 30s, is a casual and colourful semi-wild 'ravine' garden of some 25 acres, dropping 200 feet down a sheltered valley to a private beach on the broad estuary of the peaceful Helford River.  After some 50 years of neglect, the Hibbert family began restoring Trebah in 1980.  It is a garden of many parts and really merits the best part of a morning or afternoon to do it full justice.  An impressive Visitor Centre - with shop, café and art gallery - is in the form of a tea planter's bungalow.  Trebah’s essence is of Cornish Spring Garden - magnolias, camellias, azaleas and giant rhodos - but it is much more.  Central in the ravine, a stream garden meanders through ponds and water gardens to the beach on the Helford River;  around it are first bamboos, tree ferns and Chusan palms, later a sea of hydrangeas, brilliant in summer.  High paths along the ravine offer glorious viewpoints and superb overviews.  There is ample car parking.  The National Trust's enjoyable and contrasting Glendurgan is very close by.  For American interest at Trebah see the box below.
Trebah Garden in winter
Above Helford River 5 miles SW of Falmouth.  Trebah revisited 2014
There is totally unexpected American interest here.  Your curiosity may be aroused by path edges, lined by massive balks of timber bound with iron bands.  Then, descending Healey’s Hill from the Eirey viewpoint, you may be surprised by its studded concrete construction, apparently made to carry heavy vehicles.  Around the lower Mallard Pond you may be puzzled by revetted trench-like recesses.  At the foot of Mallard Pond and on the beach of Polgwiddon Cove, all is revealed.  In June 1944, Healey’s Hill carried heavy vehicles to Yankee Beach in the cove, the trenches were machine gun positions, the timber balks were part of a series of ramps leading across the beach to pontoons in the estuary, from which the US 29th Infantry Division embarked on D-Day in June 1944. 
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Trebah and Glendurgan revisited 2014
Living, as we do, 40 miles or so from Mawnan Smith, it is not often that we get to see the Helford River ravine gardens.  However, a free pass to Trebah encouraged us that way and National Trust membership added Glendurgan.  We had expected to prefer Glendurgan to Trebah and were surprised that it didn’t work that way.  In the event we found Glendurgan a little colourless and short on views while Trebah seemed full of colour with many delightful views.  Glendurgan’s prime feature must be its impressive and well-kept maze, best seen from the high path on the east side of the ravine.  Trebah’s is the view north up the ravine from the beach end of the garden, looking across a small lake and past massed hydrangeas in the valley and mature trees on the slopes up to the house.  In both gardens we set out on the high western path and returned first on the high eastern path and then on the low central path.  In Glendurgan this allows you to see the Schoolroom Summerhouse, in Trebah you get to see the impressive new stone amphitheatre, built in 2014 and already the venue of the Miracle Theatre’s production of ‘The Tempest’.  We concluded that the essential difference between the two gardens is that Glendurgan is presented ‘take it ot leave it’ while Trebah is very much a commercial enterprise with shop, plant centre and a good large restaurant/café.  As members we would like to prefer Glendurgan but have to plump for Trebah.
Back to Trebah
The Monet bridge near the foot of the garden
On this 2014 visit we spotted for the first time, on the right only a little way inside the garden, a serpentine (we think) sculpture of an Austin Healey sports car.  This commemorates Cornishman Donald Healey, racing driver and designer of the Austin Healey, who started restoration of the garden while the family lived there from 1961 to 1971.
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Trebartha Estate
We already knew the area where the Trebartha Estate is, to the south-east of Bodmin Moor.  Some years ago we had walked from North Hill, taking in Hawke's Tor and Trewortha Tor.  In winter 2006 I had passed through, and admired, Trebartha village, whilst walking the Copper Trail.  So, when we heard that Trebartha's landscape garden was to be open for charity one day in September 2006, we jumped at the chance of a visit.  Trebartha Hall was built by the Spoures around 1500, destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1720.  Trebartha then passed to the Rodds.  After use in the 2nd World War as a military hospital, the hall was almost derelict and new owners, the Lathams, demolished it to build a modern house.  Near the car park is a fenced-off well, inside the fencing several old crosses and a direction stone.  A path then leads along the River Lynher, past the Swan Pool and into fine mature woodland where a stream casacades down the hillside.  Approached separately from the car park, a series of medieval fish ponds form another garden, the pools gradually being restored and planted.  We found Trebartha enchanting though not outstanding and we enjoyed the home-made tea and cakes served in the old laundry.   We returned in May 2007 to enjoy the spring shrubs. 
Trebartha is 1 mile NW of North Hill, on the E side of Bodmin Moor
The Cascades in the hilly woodland
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Tregothnan, a great estate on the River Fal
The Boscawens acquired the estate in 1335 when John of Boscawen Ros in West Penwith married the Tregothnan heiress.  The original manor house here, probably built by him, was severely slighted by Parliamentary forces in the English Civil War but had been rebuilt by 1652.  What you see now is a result of an 1820s remodelling by William Wilkins.  The upper part of the 100 acre garden is fairly level and geometrical.  To see the very best, though, you need to head for the far corner to access the wilder sloping garden below.  Throughout there are fine rhodos, camellias, azaleas and magnolias.  You will also find a tree fern avenue, a series of ponds below a tea-house, a young Australian 'dinosaur tree', South American and South African collections, Cornish palms, hebes and masses of primroses.  This is not a perfect place - restoration and replanting is under way - but it is sheer delight.  We visited in April 2006. 
The Dinosaur tree.  Thought to have been extinct for 2 million years, Wollemia Nobilis was discovered in Australia in 1994. With less than 40 known adult specimens, it was then said to be the world's rarest tree.  It may soon become common in Cornwall. Tregothnan acquired one and are now selling its progeny as Christmas trees.
Magnolias & rhodos by Tregothnan's middle pond
For group guided tours go to www.tregothnan.com
We revisited Tregothnan for their March 2009 charity opening.  Since 2006 Tregothnan now has a large and well organised dedicated parking field, just as well since vast numbers turned up.  A great deal of replanting has happened since our last visit, a good indication of a garden that its owners remain dedicated to.  That's the good side.  There was a bad side, too.  Expecting another early spring, opening had been brought forward from April to March.  2009's late spring meant that less was in bloom - swathes of daffodils and some superb magnolias but few rhodos and no azaleas and many camellias had been frost damaged.  The other disappointment was lunch, despite it being by the local WI.  Cheese and tomato sandwiches were dreadful and £1.50 for a teabag in a paper cup is too much, even for charity.  And the courtyard was crowded out by a vintage vehicle rally.  So, on balance, a bit of a disappointment but we can hardly blame the Boscawens for the late spring. 
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Tregrehan Garden
An under-rated and under-visited garden, close to St. Austell, Pine Lodge Garden and Heligan, Tregrehan is the ancestral home of the Carlyons.  It is a garden of two main linked parts.  A large formal walled garden has well-stocked Victorian glasshouses, lawns, trees, a central fountain and herbaceous borders.  Beyond is a long yew walk which feels like the dark nave of a gothic cathedral.  So far, so good, but then you come to Tregrehan's best beyond this, a twenty acre woodland garden with great specimen trees, an old pinetum, an abundance of superb camellias, rhodos and other exotic shrubs, a valley with bog plants and Dicksonias, a recently planted collection of southern hemisphere trees and a blanket of bluebells in May.  We visited in late April 2004 and were astonished by the rhodos, many in tree rather than shrub form - we had never seen such a range of colours.  It was a very dull day but we returned in 2007 and enjoyed better weather.  We  recommend Tregrehan as a delightful garden which deserves many more visitors than it gets.  It is signed off the A390 at the western end of St. Austell.  There is ample parking and simple refreshments.
Signed off A390 at western end of St. Austell
Tregrehan's rhodos are superb
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Trelissick Garden
Developed by half-a-dozen families over 200 years, Trelissick is now in the care of the National Trust.  Though best known for rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias and hydrangeas, it is also very much a summer garden.  There is a fig garden, an aromatic garden, a dell with ferns, climbers, shrubs and exotic species, luxuriant herbaceous beds, a Cornish orchard and walks in the park and through woodland above the river and, since August 2004, you can arrive by ferry from Truro or Falmouth.  As ever, National Trust maintenance is entirely immaculate.  In the stable yard is a harness display and exhibition, nearby are an art and craft gallery, café, restaurant, plant centre and shop.  Cottages on the estate (one is in a converted water-tower - on four floors!) are for holiday rental.
Trelissick walks:   A leaflet describes the extensive walks available.  Most visitors seem to keep to the walk on the south side of the road.  We much prefer a longer walk on the north side.  From the car park, head first through the gate to the south.  Follow a track west to leave the park at a lodge;  follow the road west for a short distance; then take a byway north down to a small river.  Stay south of this through woodland east to Roundwood Fort and Roundwood Quay.  Choice of routes back to the car park.
Some of the superb lacecap hydrangeas
Signed from A39 at Playing Place, south of Truro
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Tremenheere Sculpture Garden
We visited Tremenheere (the name means Longstone Farm) on a mid-week day in August 2013.  After the build-up it had received in Cornwall's Gardens and elsewhere, and its self-promotion as a 'major new visitor attraction', we were not a little disappointed.  We had expected to find a reasonably mature garden and a good selection of sculpture.  Instead we found an somewhat sparse feeling immature garden and no more than a moderate amount of sculpture.  The garden is the creation of Dr. Neil Armstrong who acquired Tremenheere in 1997.  Clearly a lot of work has been done in the garden's 20 acres but equally clearly a lot more needs to be done.  At present all we could find to enjoy was the woodland which leads you - sometimes fairly steeply - up to the top of the garden and the views of St. Michael's Mount.  The only sculpture that really appealed to us was a do-it-yourself with bricks available to make your own construct;  kids enjoyed that.  We can't offer an opinion on the Lime Tree Café;  after queuing for 20 minutes we discovered there was then a 30 minute wait for a sandwich.  So we had excellent sandwiches and two-for-the-price-of-one cream teas (thanks to Western Morning News vouchers) in the excellent Mad Hatter on Fore Street in Hayle.
Entrance to Tremenheere
Signed from Gulval Churchtown near Penzance
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Trengwainton Garden
Although situated some 400 feet above sea level in a part of Cornwall exposed to Atlantic gales, the garden is happily well sheltered.  Created by Sir Edward Bolitho, Cornish banker and mine owner, it lies below the Bolitho family home.  Trengwainton is essentially four gardens in one - a linear stream garden, with lilies, candelabra primulas and bog plants beside a long drive to the house;  a Cornish garden with tree ferns, magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas;  a terraced garden with pavilions and long views to St. Michael's Mount;  and an unusual walled garden of ten compartments, most of them restored by 2006, one with a giant magnolia. Since we love Trengwainton, partly because it is so different from most other Cornish gardens, we revisited with sister Mary in April 2006.  We found more of the walled garden restoration completed - one section we saw was filled with daffodils.  The stream garden had been lengthened and was more luxuriant but not at its best yet;  we re-visited at the end of May and it was.  As always, the National Trust's maintenance is excellent.  There is the usual shop and a small self-service restaurant with outside tables.
Signed from A30 Penzance by-pass
A small part of Trengwainton's lovely stream garden
April 2015:  After visiting Penlee House for their excellent Sons and Daughters of the Soil exhibition, we went on to Trengwainton.  While the garden is perhaps better seen in May and June, magnolias and camellias were superb and the stream garden was beginning to look good.
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Trevarno Garden

You learn eventually that you should not rely on first impressions, sometimes not on second impressions.  We had visited Trevarno in 2003, not long after it opened and were distinctly unimpressed.  I had taken visitors in 2004 and their view was much the same.  Then we went back in April 2006 and changed our minds.  In 2003 little had been restored bar the lake.  Now, although the walled gardens were still under restoration, all was immaculate - lake, Victorian boathouse, cascade, sunken Italian garden, lawns, serpentine yew tunnel, walled garden, bog garden and rockery.  Trevarno is hardly Cornish, even a camellia we spotted was an unusual rich creamy colour.  Nor indeed is it a garden in the conventional sense, rather it is an ornamental park - and a thoroughly delightful one at that. 
Clearly Trevarno is a commercial exercise.  Even before you get to the garden proper, you encounter a museum of gardening, a toy museum, a vintage soap collection and shops selling Trevarno soap and organic skin care products.  In the house is a large (and good) gift shop and attached is a delightful tea room in a conservatory  - with superb cakes and good cream teas.  But don't let all this distract you from the delights of the garden, which will certainly repay at least a couple of  hours visit. 
Trevarno's Lake and Victorian Boathouse
UPDATE APRIL 2012:  Bad News, owners have tried to sell Trevarno as a going concern but failed;  the garden has closed.  The Museum of Gardening should remain intact to open elsewhere.  The Helston Railway, now with a station and a mile of track, should keep going.
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Trewidden Garden
Visited in 2006, 2007, 2009 ans 2015
Until recently the far west of Cornwall has been a bit short of gardens, only Trengwainton and  St. Michael's Mount rating a mention.  Now Trewidden (not to be confused with Trewithen) Trewoofe, Trewoofe Orchard and Chygurno are all open and enjoyable.  Trewidden is not a new garden, only new to public opening.  The Bolithos have been in this part of Cornwall since time immemorial, their garden - created by T. E. Bolitho in late Victorian times - has been around for long enough to have a magnolia named in its honour.  A large and varied garden of lawns, spring shrubs, flowers, tree ferns, ponds and woodland, Trewidden is best known for its collection of over 300 varieties of camellias and for its superb magnolias, one of which is claimed to be the largest veitcheii in the British Isles - which is saying something if you have seen those at Caerhays.  A multitude of waymarked paths wind around the garden, leading to a bluebell wood, a tree fern dell (magnificent Dicksonias), a rock garden, a pond garden and much more.  Although the garden occupies only around 10 acres, somehow it seems much larger, thanks to the meandering nature of its paths.  There is ample car parking and simple refreshments are available.
Off A30 at Buryas Bridge 1 mile west of Penzance
A striking Rhododendron
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Trewithen Garden

This is one of Cornwall's most admired gardens.  The government grants it official Historic Garden Grade II status;  Good Gardens Guide awards it a top-ranking two stars;  the Michelin Green Guide gives it a top three stars;  and the Royal Horticultural Society's Garden Finder offers a rave review.  We first visited in early March 2003, at a time when little was out except a few spring shrubs - it was beautiful then.  In 2004 we were there in early April and were overwhelmed by the beauty and sheer amount of colour.  Trewithen is essentially a spring garden but is quite unlike many others in Cornwall, not in a coastal valley or ravine but on a well sheltered level inland site of some 35 acres, planted by George Johnstone in the early 20th century and now immaculately maintained by the Galsworthys, who have added a number of features including a viewing platform and a magnolia fountain.  Since our 2003 visit a valley with a series of ponds has been opened up, cherries and heathers have been planted and new herbaceous borders are planned.  There is an informative half-hour video and the tea room serves delicious fresh cakes and pastries.  Because the house tour is so interesting and so well done, we recommend that the best time to visit  is on a Monday or Tuesday in April or May to enjoy both the house and the spring garden at its best. 
Rhodos and azaleas border the long lawn
Location:  signed off A390 at Probus, 7 miles E of Truro 
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Trewoofe House in the Lamorna Valley
In May 2008 we had a busy gardens day.  There are three gardens in the Lamorna Valley - Chygurno, Trewoofe House and Trewoofe Orchard - and, since we would be passing it on the way to Lamorna, we decided to include Trereife as well.  Of the four, Trewoofe Orchard was the undoubted star, Chygurno the most remarkable, Trewoofe House pleasant but not outstanding, and Trereife a waste of time (with one honourable exception).  A great bonus was that bluebells were everywhere.
Trewoofe House is at the head of the Lamorna Valley, very close to Trewoofe Orchard.  Both benefit from small streams that later join to flow down to Lamorna Cove.  The house was built in 1913 for Charles and Ella Naper, members of the Lamorna Colony, an offshoot of the Newlyn School of  'plein air' artists.  It is now the home of their niece Mrs. Pigott, who has developed the garden in a delightful casual style.  There are large and colourful island beds, New Zealand shrubs, hostas, hellebores and some rhodos and azaleas.  The charming stream garden has lovely irises and some unusually coloured candelabra primulas.  There is also a small orchard and a well stocked greenhouse by the house.  We enjoyed Trewoofe House Garden but not as much as Trewoofe Orchard.
Colourful island bed near the house
On B3515 Newlyn-Lamora road, just before the Lamorna turn
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Trewoofe Orchard in the Lamorna Valley
In May 2008 we had a busy gardens day.  There are three gardens in the Lamorna Valley - Chygurno, Trewoofe House and Trewoofe Orchard - and, since we would be passing it on the way to Lamorna, we decided to include Trereife as well.  Of the four, Trewoofe Orchard was the undoubted star, Chygurno the most remarkable, Trewoofe House pleasant but not outstanding, and Trereife a waste of time (with one honourable exception).  A great bonus was that bluebells were everywhere.
Like Trewoofe House, Trewoofe Orchard had its origins in the Lamorna artistic colony.  The attractive house, approached by a driveway through woodland, was built in 1912 by philosopher Alfred Sidgewick and his novelist wife Cecily Ullman, both part of the colony's social circle.  One of the garden's great attractions is its division into two by a stream.  On the house side of the stream are island beds, several levels of borders and some spring shrubs.  Along the stream are a waterfall, a pond and ferns, bamboos and arum lilies.  On the far side of the stream is beech and oak woodland, paths meandering through it.  At the time of our visit the woodland was blanketed with bluebells.  We had a long chat with owner Mrs. Waterson which made our delight with this, our favourite garden of the day, even greater.
On B3515 Newlyn-Lamora road, opposite the Lamorna turn
Bluebells on the approach to Trewoofe Orchard
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Trist House Garden at Veryan

Trist House was built around 1830 by Samuel Trist, vicar of Veryan and son of the man who built the village's famed 'round houses'.  Much of Samuel's garden had been lost when Graham and Brenda Salmon bought the house in 1994.  They have restored some features - including Italianate terraces and a giant rockery  - and added many more.  For a garden that, at the time of our visit, was mostly only ten years old it seemed remarkably mature.  Amongst the delights are a rose pergola, a hydrangea walk, wisteria beds, a dell garden, a wild rose garden - and the view from the house over the Italianate terraces to a luxuriantly planted border.  Do be sure to include the part of the garden across the drive or you will miss some of these features and the large rockeries which were under restoration at the time of our visit in June 2004.  Excellent cream teas are served in a charming courtyard behind the house.  There is only a small amount of parking but it rarely gets busy and, if it does, there is space to park in the village and walk up. 
Cream Teas in the Courtyard
Just up the Portloe road in Veryan
Trist House:  The house was sold in 2010.  If the garden still opens, times may be 1 Apr - Mid Sept, Tuesdays, Sundays & Bank Holidays 14:00-17:30.  But it might be wise to telephone to check with the owners.  The number may be 01872 501422 but information is hard to come by.
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