Garden Portrait: Glendurgan

Cornish Red Rhododendron

Glendurgan Garden is a woodland garden which is ideal for a circular stroll through sheltered valleys down to Durgan beach on the Helford River in Cornwall. It has the usual spring planting that Cornish gardens are famous for – rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and magnolias along with many tree ferns and exotic shrub and tree species. Bought by Alfred Fox in 1823 he set about creating shelter-belts of native deciduous trees and Scots pines, Norway spruce and holm oak. The paths follow the contours of the valley between the towering trees and lush foliage.

Rough paths lead down the slopes and open sweeps of meadows provide a backdrop to the more dramatic planting. Wildflowers abound: primroses, bluebells, violets and native Lent lilies followed by columbines, campions and early purple orchids.

Magnolia stellata and upturned boat seat

Having descended into the lower portion of the garden, you exit over a cattle grid and enter the hamlet of Durgan, a true example of rural Cornwall. Mostly consisting of holiday lets, it is a lovely spot to rest for a while looking over the Helford River: a place to watch birds and boats, skim stones and build sandcastles.

Back through a kissing-gate on the other side you see the valley from the opposite side, passing by bamboos and myrtles, cherry blossom and lots of shades of green.

This lush valley of woods and meadows has one last surprise for you. An asymmetrical cherry laurel maze laid out on the west-facing slope. It was created by Alfred Fox in 1833 and the entrance and exit routes are 1.2 km in length. It once contained a thatched summerhouse in the centre, but on this latest visit it was no longer there.


A garden to enjoy at any time of the year, but especially in spring, it is full of natural beauty and offers lots of fun for the children (or child within yourself).

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


36 Comments Add yours

  1. Gorgeous! Buy a house nearby?

    1. Heyjude says:

      Almost did, but someone beat us to it. I do like the Helford River area.

      1. What a shame. It’s a lovely area.

  2. Sue says:

    What a lovely place, Jude…thanks for the wander 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      You are very welcome Sue, thanks for joining me.

  3. Anabel Marsh says:

    Cornwall seems to have so many wonderful gardens – I’m glad you seem to have visited most of them and can show us the pictures!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have visited a lot, but then I keep finding more! Which is just as well considering I intend to make it my next home.

  4. restlessjo says:

    Ooh, I enjoyed that armchair wander 🙂 Feet still tired from this morning so the less exertion the better. We found some wonderful cherry red wild orchids along the cliff tops. So nice! Our rhodies and azaleas at home are doing well but we’ve just had to have some fences replaced so a major garden remake is on the cards. Bought a wisteria yesterday in readiness 🙂
    Many thanks for the link, Jude.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I hope you will post a photo of the orchids – Meg and Gilly will be so jealous! As I am of the wisteria…

      1. restlessjo says:

        I wanted a white wisteria but Aldi didn’t have them. What do you want for £9.99? 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          I grew one once. a blue one, on a south-facing wall – took many years to flower and was just starting to look good when I moved. I hate to think what happened to it as the house is now a rental 😦

        2. restlessjo says:

          Are you on the verge of a new home yet? 🙂

        3. Heyjude says:

          I am keeping fingers crossed.

        4. Heyjude says:

          Great match just now, better than many finals! Pity one of them had to lose and it was your boy 😦

        5. restlessjo says:

          Oh well- got a full social calendar the rest of this week so I’ll just forget about tennis till Wimbledon. 🙂

        6. Heyjude says:

          I wanted to write a few posts this morning, but the weather was so good I was reluctant to be inside. I shall never get anything done if the sun shines and there is tennis on the TV!

        7. restlessjo says:

          A few? I only ever do one at a time 😦 The morning was lovely here but it didn’t last. I had a walking day planned tomorrow with the promise of the best day of the week. I just saw the forecast and heavy showers are headed this way. 😦 I’m sulking 🙂

  5. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Gorgeous Jude and lovely photos again. Did you get lost in the maze? The hamlet though, isn’t that sad that its mainly holiday lets and the locals probably can’t afford to buy homes.

    1. Heyjude says:

      So much of the hamlets and small villages in Cornwall are the same, actually it’s a bit like that here! Though at least we have a thriving market town, and there are some affordable houses in the less popular areas.

  6. Another gorgeous garden Jude. I love that little cottage in the garden. What is a kissing gate?

    1. Heyjude says:

      One which swings half way which lets people through but not livestock. Usually curved metal construction. Only one person can pass through at a time and there is no latch to close.

      1. Thanks. I’ve never heard of that before.

        1. Heyjude says:

          I shall have to post a picture of one at some stage, I must have a few!

  7. pommepal says:

    Lovely gallery of this garden Jude. What a delightful small thatched gazebo?? and that maze looks formidable, could you peep over the top of the hedges to find your way out? You have found a gardeners paradise in Cornwall.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Cornwall has a lot of gardens, though so has the south-east in a very small area. Too expensive for us to move there though and it is much closer to London so much busier. I am looking for a quieter pace of life now.

      The little shelter is situated on the original site of The Old School Room built by the Fox family for their children and the local village children.

      1. pommepal says:

        I am in awe of these inspirational people that build and dedicate their lives to creating the beauty of a garden. They enrich other peoples lives too.
        We were fortunate we bought here on the GC in 1998. No way could we afford this area now.

  8. colibrist says:

    Nice walk and wonderful photos! Got here from Jo’s Monday walks. Love the title of the blog “The Earth laughs in flowers” 🙂
    Have a nice weekend!

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks for popping in, nice to see you here 🙂

  9. Ali says:

    Lovely post. Makes me want to go back to Cornwall.

    1. Heyjude says:

      There are some great gardens here, mainly spring planting, though this year I am on the search for more all-rounders 🙂 Thanks for following the link.

  10. Tish Farrell says:

    I want an upturned boat seat now! What a very lovely place. We definitely need to get ourselves down to Cornwall again.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Better in spring I think when the gardens are open.

  11. pommepal says:

    Lovely to come for a second look Jude. Do you know why it is called a “kissing gate”?

    1. Heyjude says:

      It allows one person through at a time, but not livestock. It derives the name from the fact that the hinged part touches – or ‘kisses’ – both sides of the enclosure rather than being securely latched like a normal gate. I rather like the idea that the first person through can demand a kiss to allow the second person to enter 🙂

      1. pommepal says:

        Thanks for the interesting info

Likes are nice, but comments spark a conversation...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.