UK: Cornwall: Trelissick # 3 Rhododendron Walks

One of the best known features of Trelissick is its collection of Rhododendrons which come into their own in Spring.  Many of them continue to flower into late Spring and we were able to enjoy these, the very essence of a Cornish garden it seems to me.

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One of the best Rhododendron species to grow well in the upper part of the garden, where the ground is thinner and drier, is the rich red ‘Gwilt King’, a hybrid of Rhododendron griersonianum.

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When a touch of sunlight catches these flowers, they seem to glow.

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There were still plenty of new flowers to come even in mid June.

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Rhododendron buds are elegant and deserve just as close a look as the more showy flowers.

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Along the Rhododendron walk, we found this moss covered seat.  Whenever I find such an empty seat, I’m reminded of UK friends who enjoyed exploring gardens with me in years gone by but who are now no longer here for me to sit and have a chat with.  I love the memories of the good times we spent together in gardens such as these and am grateful for those special times of friendship.

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Walking on, we found several other Rhododendron species in flower.  Many of these were brought to Trelissick Gardens from the famous Bodnant Gardens in north Wales by Ida and Ronald Copeland when they lived here.  I don’t know their species names but each and every one of them was a delight.  I hope you enjoy our photos of a selected few of them.

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As well as Rhododendrons, there were still some azaleas in flower.

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My favourite is the Mollis Azalea. It reminds me of my wonderful Mum!

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Other trees in flower were Cornus, or Dogwoods.

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Have you ever really looked at the centre of a Dogwood flower?

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In amongst the borders are plants like Aquilegia, cottage garden and border essentials with their delicate nodding flowers and delightful lacy foliage which is a rare blue-green colour. They are a beautiful foil for other larger, heavier plants and , although the fresh foliage starts growing in early spring, the flowers develop just in time to fill in when spring flowers begin to fade.

They are commonly known as Columbines or, a name I love for these beauties, Granny’s Bonnets . 

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This delicately petalled Roscoea cautleyoides is another Asian plant that’s grown in this garden.  Although it’s a member of the ginger family, which has mostly tropical species, this plant comes from the mountain regions of  Sichuan and Yunann provinces. 

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Another delicate white flower is the bell of Polygonatum or Solomon’s Seal.  Once classified as a member of the Lily family, this plant is now classified as a member of the family Asparagaceae.  It’s hard to keep up with these classification changes at times!

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Most Cornish gardens make some use of the lovely Astrantia along the borders of the garden.

The flowers range from white to a deep wine red.

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If we look closely we’ll see that this one has a visitor – a tiny green beetle.

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Another plant used to great effect in this garden’s borders is the Geranium, commonly known in UK as Cranesbill.

I love the veined petals. There are many colours for gardeners to use and they flower for a long period.

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A flower that adds a wonderful dash of colour to any border is Alstroemeria commonly called Peruvian Lily.

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Time was getting away from us and, reluctantly, we followed this man and his grandson back to the carpark. I hope they had enjoyed their Trelissick experience as much as we had done.  But we still had a long way to go to Sennen Cove near Lands End where we were to stay for the next three nights.

Apart from visiting a quiet Cornish beach for the weekend, our goal in going to that southern part of Cornwall was to learn more about the kind of lives lived by David’s forbears working in the tin and copper mines from the 1600s to the 1850s when some of them made the big decision to emigrate to Australia.

More of that story anon.

Jennie and David

All photography copyright ©  Jt and Dy of jtdytravels

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UK: Cornwall: Trelissick Gardens # 1

Set above the southern banks of the River Fal in Cornwall, Trelissick Gardens are large and park like. In a picturesque setting, they cover a peninsular of several hundred acres of contoured land.

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The garden has had many owners since its early days in the 1700s and each of them have made their own contribution to this garden. However, the greatest contributions have been made by Carew Gilbert in the late 1800s, Ida and Ronald Copeland from 1937 to 1995 and, since then, by the National Trust who now own the gardens. Three NT gardeners now take good care of the gardens with the help of volunteers (Friends of Trelissick) and students during their holidays.

The NT restored the orchard in the 1990s. It now contains 68 different apple trees, mainly Cornish varieties, and as such is a valuable asset to Cornish heritage. The grass in the orchard is left uncut in the summer to encourage wild flowers. Unfortunately we didn’t get to that part of the garden which must look good in any season with the spring apple blossoms, the summer wild flowers, the autumn apple harvest and then the tracery of the limbs in winter.

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Overlooking the visitor car park is the former water tower with its delightful squirrel weather vane.  Because the house and gardens are so far above the river, the water tower was built in about 1825 to pump water from the river.  Looking more like a fairy castle, this is now one of  five NT holiday cottages which can be rented on the estate. The house and gardens were given to the National Trust in 1955 with the proviso that future generations of the previous owners, the Copeland family, could live on in the house.

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For now, just the gardens are open to the public. The reception, cafe and shop are housed in former farm buildings giving a rustic feel to the entrance. Once inside, the first thing that greeted us on a cool June morning was the beautiful sight and smell of wisteria. This curtain of flowers was labled as Wisteria floribunda ‘Macrobotrys’, a plant that has been known in Japan for at least 400 years.

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Flower beds line the short entrance walk into the main gardens.

Purple iris were brilliant against the greens.

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The markings on this yellow iris are stunning and the furled bud is so elegant.

It always pays to stop and take a closer look.

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Colours, shapes and textures were carefully blended in the garden design.

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There were delightful small plants, too, like this Scilla peruviana.

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The main lawn spills down a slope to a border thick with trees and shrubs. In the centre of the lawn is a large Cryptomeria japonica, Japanese Cedar, planted in the garden in 1898 by the estate’s owner at that time, Carew Gilbert.

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Carew was a great traveller and brought back many exotic plants from Japan, southern Europe, North and South America. Many of the bigger specimen trees in the garden were planted in his time. This one dwarfs David. It’s magnificent.

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Paths run along the top of the slope with glimpses of the River Fal.

Above the river, at the top of the hill, is a glimpse of the Tregothnan Estate owned by Lord Falmouth’s family.

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A closer view of the large mansion at Tregothnan. In 1832, Lord Falmouth of Tregothnan bought Trelissick from the then owners, the Daniells. The cost of building a new house at Trelissick and a slump in mining had forced the Daniell family into bankruptcy. The house was unlived in and the gardens untended until 1844, when the estate was purchased by John Gilbert, father of the plant hunter, Carew Gilbert. Thankfully, a keen gardener had come to live on the estate and his plantings form the skeleton of the gardens today.

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 There is plenty of space in this garden to wander and unwind as you discover the great variety of plants that grow in the various micro climates formed by the topography of the garden and sheltered by those trees planted by Carew Gilbert.

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It’s a garden to be enjoyed in any season of the year although early spring and autumn must be the most spectacular.  We were there at the end of spring when the garden was filled with many different greens highlighted by an occasional splash of colour.

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Trelissick is a huge garden. It’s not a place to try to see in just one visit.

Those who live near by, can take it in a section at a time, a season at a time.

We would, if we could.

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At the end of an hour or so of enjoying the garden and its trees, we came upon a small NT gate house. From there, steps lead down to the River Fal and the ferry, a popular way for people to come to the garden from north of the river. There’s also a river side path that’s always freely open to the public. This path area is thickly planted to give the main garden protection from the wild Cornish winter winds.

We decided to take the river side woodland walk and go on through the farm, leaving more wandering in the main garden until the afternoon. We’ll show you something of that relaxing walk in our next episode about Trelissick and then we’ll come back to explore more of the garden after that.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels