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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: Tremenheere

    • 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. 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 🙂

    • 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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).

  3. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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!

        • 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.

  4. 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.

    • 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!

  5. 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..

    • 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 😉

      • 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. 🙂

        • 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’.

        • 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 🙂

        • 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.

  6. 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…

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