Friday, 25 October 2013

Two of the finest sub-tropical gardens in Cornwall - Trebah and Glendurgan

Stand at the top of Trebah and you will enjoy views over the gardens and estuary below
Cornwall is a garden lovers paradise, even this late in the season. Home to some of the greatest plant hunters in history and with a climate that fosters plants and trees that won't grow elsewhere in England, it's perfect for plantsmen and an Arcadia for arborists. Head to two neighbouring gardens - Trebah and Glendurgan - on the Helford estuary near Falmouth - and you'll encounter palms, tree ferns and many other exotic specimens that you'd normally only see in a botanical glasshouse here in the UK. 
The gardens at Trebah date back more than a century and are reminiscent of Jurassic Park
The two gardens were originally owned by two members of the same family. Charles Fox created the 25 acres at Trebah in the 19th century, after his father gave him the estate and many of the trees there date back to his time in residence. Neighbouring Glendurgan (now under the stewardship of the National Trust) was created by his older brother, Alfred. And whilst both gardens are best known for their spectacular spring displays of azaleas, camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons, there are also many fine trees and sub-tropical plants, which give year-round appeal.
Perhaps the most spectacular feature of both gardens is their steep hillside positions, with houses set at the highest point and magnificent views down through the densely planted ravines to the Helford River below. In autumn the vista from the top or bottom of Trebah is impressive, as your eye travels over acres of hydrangeas and huge gunnera beds (above), while spring brings fantastic wild flower tapestries. As you stroll into the valley at Glendurgan you will find amazing trees and the laurel maze (below), which appeals to all ages.
The laurel maze at Glendurgan appeals to all ages
Glendurgan is definitely at its best in springtime if it's colour that you're looking for. But anyone who is interested in trees will enjoy visiting later in the season - there are plenty of deciduous trees including huge oaks, limes, sycamores and beech; as well as a sub-tropical zone with unusual palms and countless tree ferns. Today, the garden is run by the National Trust, following a hand-over by the Fox family in 1962. Trebah was acquired by Major Tony Hibbert and his wife in 1981 and is now operated as a registered charity.
Trebah remains open throughout the year and is open daily from 10.00. Admission is £8.50 for adults and £2.50 for children. Glendurgan closes during the winter months (from the beginning of November), but re-opens in springtime. 

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