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 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: Glendurgan

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  4. 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!

    • 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.

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