Cornish gardens and cream teas!
You'll be nothing short of amazed when you see what grows in Cornish gardens and now is the perfect time to visit, before the schools break up. There are three truly wonderful properties on a peninsular near Falmouth - Carwinion, Glendurgan and Trebah - that you can visit in a day (although you'll probably need two!). But what is amazing about all three is the size and scale of the plants that grow there.
Trebah (right) has the tallest Chusan palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) in the country, together with many other exotic specimens reminiscent of a Jurassic Park film set. It extends to about 25 acres and you can meander through the garden's ravines down to the Helford River, checking out the vast gunnera plantation (above) en route. This garden always has something to see, starting with swathes of bluebells in spring; huge banks of rhododendrons a little later; and then come the hydrangeas. But whatever time of year you visit, you will be stunned by the scale of this garden and the size of the plants.
Neighbouring Glendurgan is just as spectacular and is also on a hill, with deep ravines and valleys that are filled with unusual plants. Here you will find the famous laurel maze (below) that will thrill adults and children alike. Particularly impressive is the camellia walk in springtime but like neighbouring Trebah, it doesn't matter what time of year you visit - you won't be disappointed!
Then you come to Carwinion, which is my favourite because of its stunning bamboo selection.
This garden is home to the Bamboo Society's reference collection and you will find blue, red, yellow and green specimens here. You will also find the most wonderful Cornish cream tea, which you can take on the terrace of the house while admiring the wonderful bamboos!
Another big plus is that you can stay at Carwinion on a bed and breakfast basis - your charming hostess, Jane, offers a wonderful cooked breakfast and you have the added bonus of being able to explore the gardens early in the morning! Here too the gardens meander down to the Helford River and it's a wonderful walk.
Because of their proximity of the Gulf Stream, there are plants in these gardens that you won't find elsewhere, so prepare to be surprised!
It's like entering a different world so go equipped with plenty of film or digital space, because you won't be able to get away without your own memories of the extraordinary plants you've seen.