Cornwall's Gardens - South Coast
The Gardens of the South Coast of Cornwall
Inspiration for the green fingered
Cornwall`s southern coast is like a giant hothouse that needs no glass. Forests of camellias and rhododendrons wave at passing ships. The warming balm of the gulf Stream, the early springs and long, lingering summers have created a sub-tropical enclave which, in the 19th century, encouraged a number of landowners to sponsor exotic plant-hunting expeditions throughout the then Empire.
The specimens they brought back were incorporated in formal gardens of astonishing scale and ambition. Despite the harsh examinations of salt spray, gales and changes of ownership most have survived and each has a fascinating story to tell.
Enjoy the award winning gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey, lost for 75 years under a mountain of ivy, bramble and fallen timber and now the largest garden restoration in Europe, containing rockeries, summer-houses, a crystal grotto and rainforest-like valley called The Jungle . The famous walled gardens are being restored to become the only working 19th century kitchen gardens in Britain, with peach houses, vineries, a melon house and pineapple pit as well as more familiar fruit and vegetables of the era.
Nearby, magnificent Caerhays Castle is the home of the Williams family and the Williams Camellias. This world-famous collection, and the rhododendrons, magnolias and azaleas that appear with them, provide a massive and exotic barrage of colour in Spring, when the castle and lovely, seaside grounds are open.
Tregrehan, near Par, home of the Carlyon family since 1565, plays host to a fine collection of mature trees including varieties from North America and Japan as well as rhododendrons and a range of Carlyon Hybrid Camellias.
Pine Lodge Gardens, near St Austell had its beginnings in the 1950s as a two acre garden and now covers over thirty acres, housing a collection of over 6000 plants.
Others, hardly more distant, demand your attention. There is the house and 450-acre park of Lanhydrock first built and landscaped in the 17th century but almost completely devastated by fire in 1881 and largely restored and replanted. And Trewithen, the Michelin award-winning estate near St Austell which has been owned by the same family since 1715, and which contains in its 30 acres of park perhaps the finest plant collection in the country.
Such gardens are living theatre. They fire the imagination. If, having seen them, you want to recreate their magic in your own, a visit to Probus Garden is a must.
Situated on the A390 between St Austell and Truro, it sits, deliberately, on an exposed ridge with thin soil so that visitors may see and learn what can be done with ingenuity and sound technique. Its expertise in countering the conditions to produce colourful sheltered garden layouts continues a unique tradition and makes the exotic accessible.
Trelissick Gardens at Feock near Truro are National Trust owned and are just a short ferry ride on the King Harry Ferry from the Roseland Peninsula. They are open all year except January and February.
Trewithen Gardens, near Probus, are alight with varieties of Camellias and rhododendrons. The grounds are open between March and September.