We’re heading into holiday snaps territory. I have been trying to think of the best way to present everything (we visited So.Many.Gardens) and on balance I’m going to go with one post each for Eden and Heligan, and one or two to cover the other gardens – where, in fairness, we spent less time and took fewer photographs.
Firstly, though, a shout out to our money-saving friends. There is still time, just, to get the BBC Gardeners’ World magazine with the 2-for-1 card. This gets you into loads of gardens all over the country, and without it we wouldn’t have gone to Eden at all because of the cost.
So we had our first holiday in two years, and went to Cornwall. We stayed in a lovely converted barn down one of those narrow winding lanes with deceptively soft-looking banks of grass and wildflowers either side that you just know are hiding unyielding granite walls, with gnarled trees growing out of the tops that reach over the lane to hold hands with the trees opposite like a guard of honour as you pass beneath them. Pheasants scooting up the banks as we drove past, a deer wandering up the field behind the house, a baby rabbit dashing across the patio in the twilight. Gorgeous.
Spring in Cornwall does, of course, mean rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias by the score so I apologise now if you hate them. Cornish gardens at pretty much any time of year mean the most enormous gunneras and more tree ferns than any sane person could possibly want, but I’ve never claimed sanity.
First on the visit list was Knightshayes Court and the observant amongst you will immediately say “That’s in Devon!” Yes, yes it is. We stopped of there for lunch on the way down. National Trust, 19th century Gothic revival house which is best described as utterly bonkers, so much so that the family gave up trying to make the house liveable-in and turned their attentions to the gardens instead. (Seriously, though, the house is amazingly bizarre.)
There’s a walled garden:
With some lovely flowers being grown for cutting:
And a lot of rhubarb. Serious quantities of rhubarb. There was even a sign explaining that they have so much demand for the rhubarb that they’ve had to grow ever larger quantities.
In the formal gardens you get some lovely flowers, impressive views and the obligatory strange topiary:
Knightshayes didn’t divert us for long as we had to press on, but it would be nice to go back and have a proper go round the gardens and the woodland walks at some point.
On the Saturday we went to Eden so I’ll come back to that in another post. Sunday we had arranged to meet some friends of mine from University who now live in Falmouth, and they’d suggested Trebah gardens as it’s one of their favourites. It’s a classic south coast of Cornwall garden – on a ravine running down to a beach, lots of dramatic views of cliffs and coves, and plenty of scope for the enormous gunnera.
We were early enough for bluebells to be still hanging on, pretty much everywhere we visited:
And there’s bamboo everywhere as well – how could I forget the bamboo?!
An abundance of water features:
Some plants that weren’t azaleas, rhodies or camellias:
And these. Of course.
Almost next door to Trebah is Glendurgan, a National Trust garden which is again on a ravine running down to a beach but is very different from Trebah. One of their standout plants is a tulip tree, one of the oldest in the country, now roped off to prevent footfall damaging its roots. There’s also a maze – amaze-ing… (sorry) and more of those pesky seasonal blooms.
On the Monday, after a visit to one of Henry VIII’s coastal forts (St Mawes Castle, on the Roseland Peninsula) we stopped off at Trewithen, just a few minutes from our holiday cottage. We can thoroughly recommend the cafe, the cream teas were excellent! And the garden was a lovely place for a wander – winding, intersecting paths, clearings, the odd bit of interesting sculpture. There is a historic house but we didn’t go inside (though it is open), and the garden has obviously been adapted over the centuries. There’s an enclosure housing red squirrels but they were all hiding, much to my disappointment – I have never seen one in Britain, only in Germany.
Anyway, a few plants clinging to stone walls at St Mawes:
And a flavour of Trewithen:
That’ll do for now, I think. Just one last thing: last week I mentioned a new photography project. It’s inspired by Trewithen, where they have taken a photo a week for a year from the same spot using the same camera settings, showing the West Lawn over the course of the year – the most representative for each month is on display in the cafe. So I’m going to do the same here, though I haven’t decided yet when to start, but it’ll be a photo a week of our back garden and I shall post them here, then review after the year is up.
More holiday snaps soon!