Garden Portrait: Tremenheere

Tremenheere is Cornwall’s most exciting contemporary large-scale garden. Located in Gulval, close to Penzance in the south-western corner of the county you get a stunning distant view of St Michael’s Mount from the top of the slopes, where strawberries were once grown for sale in distant Covent Garden. Prior to 1290 the land at Tremenheere was owned by the monks of St Michael’s Mount.

View towards St Michael’s Mount

In a beautiful sheltered valley, the woods, stream and dramatic vistas provide a perfect setting for large scale exotic and sub-tropical planting. Interwoven with this there is also an evolving programme of high quality contemporary art installations. Inspirational….contemplative… a joy to visit…

Now groups of bold sub-tropical plants amassed by Neil Armstrong greet you and it is easy to imagine yourself in one of the southern hemisphere gardens of Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. Armstrong also commissioned a handful of major art installations with the aim of creating ‘moments of wonder’. One is hidden deep in woodland, while a group of charred oak menhirs, eerily evoking a family struck by lightning, stands motionless in a circular dip, surrounded by ferns, natural vegetation and tall trees.

Black Mound by David Nash

In Tremenheere Billy Wynter has created a camera obscura which provides a focus for one compartment in the gardens. Going inside the darkened room, one has to turn a handle and walk around a central table onto which images of plants and views are combined with light and movement. It is magical.

Perhaps the most striking is Skyscape, the American artist James Turrell’s celestial observatory stationed on a hilltop: from the circular bench inside you become mesmerised by the bright white walls and contrasting roof open to the weather – in this instance an azure blue sky that looked as though it had been painted on the ceiling. I can’t imagine what it must be like to watch clouds drifting across or even stars! I saw another of Turrell’s installations, ‘Skyspace‘, in Canberra last December. He certainly gets around!

Yes that really is the sky in England!

Planting is mostly structural, continuing the sculptural theme; New Zealand phormiums dominate the hillside; succulents and agaves; South African fynbos, aloes, proteas and restios, sedges and grasses in the arid zone. Bamboos, tree ferns, mahonias and exotic shade plants in the swampy bogs and pond areas.

The garden, built on a slope and therefore not fully accessible to wheelchairs or push-chairs, does have plenty of seating areas where you can take the weight off your feet, rest a while, admire the views and which provide a place of contemplation and wonder.

View of St Michael’s Mount

Tremenheere = place of the long stones. A garden of the future.

More lovely walks can be found over at my friend Jo’s place.


39 Comments Add yours

  1. Colline says:

    Definitely a beautiful garden. Lovely photos of the succulents.

    1. Heyjude says:

      An unusual garden for this part of the country. Most Cornish gardens are full of rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias not this southern hemisphere planting. I love it!

      1. Colline says:

        It must be a treat for those who have lived in the Southern Hemisphere.

  2. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I’ve never heard of this garden so thank you for sharing it, anywhere with echiums and sculpture is a winner for me. I rarely go that far west but it’s very tempting, I love the skyscape 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Honestly Gilly I sat and stared at that ‘hole’ thinking it had to be fake, but I knew that it was open as the dome is the one I walked around on top. And it was a very ‘blue sky’ day. Just inside the space it was very disorientating. I’d love to sit there at night-time.

  3. All that and James Turrell too. What a beautiful and surprising garden. Lovely paths, shadows and Black Mounds. So many unexpected things. That last vista is a clincher: you really make a drama of the garden.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is a very dramatic garden Meg! I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the southern hemisphere (though somewhat disturbed by the inclusion of a bluebell wood).

  4. Sue Slaght says:

    What a fascinating place to walk about. The Black Mounds really intrigued me. You saved the best for last with that view. I could gaze at it all day.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I confess to actually sitting on a bench for twenty minutes soaking up that view before I could force myself to carry on walking around the garden. I want to build a house in that spot with that view!

      1. Sue Slaght says:

        I wish I had been there with you Jude. That makes me smile. You can invite me once the house is built. 🙂

  5. Sue says:

    Looks a most marvellous place, Jude….I’ll have to plan to get there when I go to Cornwall!!

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s not a very accessible garden Sue, at least not for wheelchairs, but manageable if you take it easy and use walking poles. I’d say worth the effort. Since you obviously manage to get around Winkworth I’d think you’d be OK. Oh, and plenty of benches for a rest!

      1. Sue says:

        Oh, I’m not in a wheelchair yet! Let’s hope never! I just don’t do too long a distance, and need plenty of rest. But Winkworth is do-able, at least bits of it!

        1. Heyjude says:

          I didn’t think you were, and I certainly hope you never have to be, but I know Sarah has to use one to get about and it would be difficult in this terrain. The wheelchair warning was more a general comment for folk who do have to use one. Perhaps those all terrain ones could get up the lane and into the garden, if not up to the top.

  6. The Skyscape is an intriguing concept, almost like an optical illusion. I agree with you, it would be amazing at night. This is a gorgeous garden. Just last night we were watching a TV show about the islands of the Hebrides and they featured a garden which was similar, with subtropical plants, which all grow because of the gulf stream. It’s probably the same for this garden.

    1. Heyjude says:

      You are probably right. We visited Logan in southern Scotland which again is on the western side and that was very much like this garden. Mild climate, but can be wet!

  7. restlessjo says:

    This is definitely one for the list when you invite me to your new Cornish home, Jude 🙂 🙂 I hadn’t realised it was a Monday walk till I got right to the link at the bottom- I was so captivated following paths and watching out for that final view. Many thanks! It’s rather a special place..

    1. Heyjude says:

      I was waiting until you posted another walk to put a link to it. I do have another (non-garden) walk for you, but keep getting distracted 😉

      1. restlessjo says:

        Good idea! I’ve just made my mind up which walk to do. The Algarve seems like a distant dream so I’m sticking with Poland this week. I have heaps of links for this week and I don’t want people to get fed up or run out of time before they’ve read them all so it’ll give me a start for next week. I said the same to Meg, though you have tons of readers who see your posts long before I get here normally. 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          I must admit that although I do try to read everyone’s walks, I sometimes run out of time. I still wonder if I should start writing these on the other blog which gets more ‘traffic’.

        2. restlessjo says:

          Depends how much you want the traffic? You could reblog, I suppose. 🙂

        3. Heyjude says:

          I have thought of doing that. I do kind of like having the flowers separate, but maybe people would enjoy the garden portraits. We’ll see 🙂

        4. restlessjo says:

          It’s a shame the ‘walks’ don’t bring more people in. Trouble is, when (or if) they follow the link, they probably don’t even think about being in a different place. They’ve just followed you to a lovely post, irrespective of where it is.

        5. Heyjude says:

          I guess so. Still the flowers are mostly for my pleasure and somewhere to record what I have seen month by month.

  8. Anabel Marsh says:

    Another place we visited on our Cornish holiday last year – we loved it too! And I can recommend the cafe…..

    1. Heyjude says:

      We only had time for a quick cuppa and a piece of cake whilst there, but we noticed that the lunches coming out of the kitchen looked rather delicious. Hope we can check that out on our next visit.

      1. Anabel Marsh says:

        Always good to have a cafe / tea room stop I find.

    2. Heyjude says:

      I have been making a note of good tea-rooms in Cornwall 🙂

  9. Hey Jude! Have a look at this and see if you can help with the wildflower ident:
    I’ve told them you are the expert.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’m not that much of an expert in Texas! But I do know a man who is:
      Steve is the expert – I’ll drop him the link and see if he can help out 🙂

      1. Thanks Jude. Could be fun to identify them all. Did you have a look?

        1. Heyjude says:

          I had a quick look, but I know from discussions I have had with Steve that Texas has wild flowers that are from the same family as some of our flowers, wild or otherwise.

  10. pommepal says:

    What a magnificent garden Jude and so much variety, I love coming across interesting sculptures and that camera obscura sounds fascinating I haven’t experienced some thing like that. You mention Neil Armstrong would that be the same man that went to the moon? Cornwall seems to be a small paradise and I believe the temperatures are milder down there…
    I appreciate you having your flowers and garden visits on a separate blog, but then I am a garden/ flower sort of person so search them out…As Jo mentioned you could reblog the garden visits letting people know you have a second blog…

    1. Heyjude says:

      This Neil Armstrong is a local GP who bought the land 15 years ago and transformed it. I found a very good article about the garden which describes the planting in much more detail:

      1. pommepal says:

        Thanks for the link. What an amazing man to have slowly beavered away every weekend on his own for 15 years to produce a thing of beauty. I would love to walk around this garden.

  11. Ali says:

    That looks like a really interesting garden. I love the skyspace!

  12. Looks really amazing. Can’t wait to visit. 🙂

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