Sunday, 29 April 2012

Cornwall Day Four - Trewidden

My first visit to Trewidden Gardens, near Penzance, revealed a garden of many hidden surprises and treats. First one encounters a tree fern dell, which was actually bombed during World War Two. Many of the tree ferns were blown out of the ground, but re-established themselves where they fell.

This Jelly Palm (Butia Capitata) is over 100 years old.

This Magnolia is the largest in Europe.

Here it is again - what a monster!

Trewidden has an impressive collection of Camellias.

I love the colour of this Azalea.

One of my favourite areas of the garden was a little wooded dell where carpets of pink Erythroniums grow. I've not seen the pink variety growing in such profusion. This little video might give you some idea, although the flowers do appear more white than pink here!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Cornwall Day Four - Chygurno

I've wanted to visit this garden for some time, having seen it featured in various articles about seaside gardening. As a seaside gardener myself, I was keen to see how the owners had planted in these often hostile conditions. One of the biggest challenges, I think, is creating a windbreak without spoiling the sea view. At Chygurno, plants complement the view, and are chosen for their robust qualities.

The gardens cover about three acres, with paths zigzagging down from the house towards the valley below. On entering the garden, an honesty box awaits your fee, showing there is still trust in the world.

Huw, always the gentleman, helps Mother down the many steps at Chygurno

I actually really like gorse, especially its coconut scent.

These two chappies had free run of the garden

Sunday, 22 April 2012

April Jobs

I'm taking a break from my Cornwall posts to share what I've been up to in my garden. I've been lucky enough to have three and a half weeks off work for Easter - back to school this Wednesday (boo!). So I've been able to catch up on a few tasks around the plot. One job was to dig up seven Erisimum from the front garden, which we are hoping to have re-landscaped soon, and move them to the back garden to fill some gaps. Thanks to the rain we've had it was a good time to do this, and so far they seem quite happy in their new homes. I am making sure I keep watering them daily for the time being.

Now where shall I put you?

Settling in to their new homes.

This Erysimum looks like it's always been there.
I am very fond of these plants, which last perhaps three years before going leggy and giving up the ghost. Still, it's a wonderful three years, and in my garden they flower from March until at least November with regular deadheading. Some plants don't even stop flowering at all - as you cut spent flower spikes away, there always seem to be new flowers coming. What great value! And they love my chalky soil, which is a bonus because not a lot does!

I've also been keeping a close eye on my seed trays. Most things seem to be germinating, except for some unusual varieties of Kniphofia which may take a long time to germinate, if at all!

I had a great day out with mum on Tuesday, on one of our Nursery Cruises. We started off at Mark Cross, north of Heathfield, a venue chosen for its quality plants and even better quality scones! We then headed down to Staverton Nurseries at Halland, near Lewes. This is a fantastic garden centre with a huge range, and everything is really competitively priced. We then had a picnic of some rather messy egg sandwiches, then headed into Lewes. We shared a yummy piece of carrot cake in Bill's, and got starstruck when we saw Jason Hughes (Ben Jones in Midsomer Murders) at the next table with his family. Then we visited a little nursery right in the heart of the town, which has cleverly obtained this busy site as a sales point for their out of town nursery. We picked up some lovely Verbascums here. What made the day even more fun was that I had a large wad of garden vouchers, saved from recent kind gifts. Guilt-free spending - what could be better!

This is not all of the haul - there was also a late-flowering clematis and various other bits and pieces that wouldn't fit into the greenhouse. And today I managed to plant the fully hardy plants, together with around thirty lilies and gladioli that I already had in stock. So it's been a very productive week here. Hope you've been having fun in your garden too!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Cornwall Day Three - Carwinion

This was my first visit to Carwinion. Initially I did not have high hopes, but it's one of those gardens that just gets better and better the further you explore. The first area is dedicated to a bamboo collection, with over 200 species.

Some of the bamboo had been planted in circles to allow you to stand in the centre in a bamboo 'cage', or with walkways between. Just when I thought we'd seen everything a pathway opened up which led to a woodland walk, covering some 14 acres. This tree was plastered in lichen, which apparently is a sign of good air:

A boggy area has been planted with Gunnera:

When I took the next photo, I actually didn't see the little critter attached to the Gunnera leaf!

I seem to find it hard to photograph Camellias. I'm okay at close ups of the flowers, but the whole bush looks rather pathetic. It's frustrating because I am standing in front of a beautiful plant that I don't seem to be able to translate into an image. Perhaps the shiny leaves reflect light that detracts from the colours of the plant. I don't know - in any case, as if to prove the point, here's a Camellia that was a beautiful deep red colour in person. Honest!

And finally, another secret pathway shot!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Cornwall Day Three - Trebah

Records of Trebah date back to the Doomsday survey of 1085, when it was the property of the Bishop of Exeter. For six centuries it passed by sale or marriage through many old, noteworthy Cornish families, including the Killigrews and the Nicholls. The surviving Georgian house at the head of the valley was built by the Nicholls in the 18th century and pre-dates the garden. The Ordnance Survey map of 1813 shows Trebah as being a wooded valley within which the garden was subsequently developed.

The wonderful garden to be enjoyed at Trebah today is the cumulative result of almost 200 years of horticultural endeavour.

This was my third visit to Trebah, and it still has that 'wow' effect. I sometimes moan about sowing biennials which won't flower until next year, but imagine planning a garden which would take over a hundred years to reach its zenith!

Some of the Rhododendrons were not yet in flower, but still impressive.

Fabulous foliage!

The house is not open to the public.

Magistic tree ferns

A jungle in....Cornwall

A magnificent magnolia

Another of my 'mystery path' shots

and another....

Looking up the valley to the house

The beach at the bottom of the garden

Gunnera Passage.

In summer you can wander beneath the giant leaves

An army of Gunnera aliens marching through the garden?

An inviting set of steps along the descending stream