Garden Portrait: Trebah in winter (or A Walk to Alice’s Seat)

As the weather hasn’t been too bad recently I took the opportunity in early February to drive the 30 miles or so to the Helford river and pay a visit to Trebah gardens. Many of the Cornish gardens (and this is classed as one of the greats) are famous for their spring planting so I was interested to see what they had to show during the winter months. The colour is not always in the form of a flower – this month highlights the various tones and hues of brown, green, grey.

Starting at the Lawn Path I made my way in an anti-clockwise direction above the wooded valley before going downhill to join the Davidia Walk which leads to the beach, passing meandering streams and peaceful pools; Dinky’s Puddle, Azolla Pool and Mallard Pond, as well as the Gunnera Passage which were just stumps today, and Hydrangea Valley, the colours of summer now a faded, dusty brown.

The Lawn Path
The Lawn Path

Sub-tropical succulents still provide colour and form above the Lawn Path.

And pops of colour stand out from among the greenery.

I must remember to return to this garden in late summer and capture the four acres of blue hydrangeas in flower.

Davidia Walk
Davidia Walk

Stopping briefly at the beach to take a photo or two of the Helford River down the eastern side of the Lizard peninsula, I returned along the Beach Path taking in the clumps of pure white snowdrops planted on the banks above me.


At Radiata Path I wandered uphill again seeking out the winter-flowering Hellebores and Hamamelis mollis (Witch Hazel) with its spidery ribbon-like flowers and spicy fragrance. The air was pervaded by the heady perfume of the Sarcococca confusa (Sweet or Christmas Box) close to Alice’s Seat, its tiny starry white flowers are almost unnoticeable among the dense green foliage, but boy can you smell it!

Alice’s Seat

Fox Path and Camellia Walk took me back to the entrance/exit passing by a few Camellias that are already flowering such as the rich red ‘Macdonald’s Seedling’ with its distinctive bright golden stamens.


The café was still open and serving so I popped inside for coffee and cake and to look through the photos on my camera, before heading back home.

Take a look here if you want to see the garden in spring.



48 Comments Add yours

  1. Denzil says:

    Such greenery even in late Feb/early March, and more than a little colour. Hydrangeas! I over-pruned mine last year and each bush had maximum two blooms instead of 20! Hoping for better luck this year!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I think you have to work hard to destroy a hydrangea, the harsh pruning may well improve its shape and help to produce lots of buds this year. You have reminded me that I need to take mine out of its pot and find a space in the garden for it.

  2. Those hydrangeas will be wonderful in summer but I always like how they look at the end of flowering too. Their faded colours are so pretty. It looks like spring is well on the way.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Definitely a garden to return to. I really like Trebah, such a pity it is not a National Trust one then I could visit on my membership card. Never mind, there are a few around. I am going to attempt to visit a garden a week this year and now they are starting to open for the season I had better get a move on!

      1. I’m looking forward to all the garden photos!

  3. I always love your garden posts, because you obviously love gardens! Another post requiring a smell-camera.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Meg. Gardens do make me feel contented.

  4. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I’ve been there but probably 25 years ago, in the days when I visited many gardens, I rarely seem to have time these days. One day, when I retire I hope to be able do then all again. It’s good to see them through your eyes meanwhile. I’m not keen on hydrangea, but if you could capture the Davidia that would be good please 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Davidia flower around the end of May? I shall return and look out for one, there must be one for the walk to be named such, surely? I shall try and visit more gardens this year, I was too busy with my own last. Let’s hope the weather is good!

  5. One of my favourite gardens, lovely photos to encourage me down there again.🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is one of the nicest gardens in the area.

  6. desleyjane says:

    Wow what a gorgeous garden. Some really beautiful plants there, love that aeonia (maybe I spelled that wrong) and the reddish brown trunks of the Chilean myrtle!

    1. Heyjude says:

      According to the blurb it has 5,000 plants from around the world!

  7. Eleazar says:

    I really love the last picture with the Camellia. I have one Camellia also in my garden, and it’s so lush and growing so fast 🙂
    Thanks for sharing, lovely post! 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes, camellias are in full flower now except for mine which hasn’t a single flower bud this year!

  8. FlowerAlley says:

    I will be looking at this again. Much to study. The Century on the hill. How old could it be? This is lovely.

  9. restlessjo says:

    STUNNING! Stunning post, Jude! Wish I had time to linger but I will have to come back to luxuriate later. I’m all behind! Don’t quote me 🙂 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      Haha… you made me splutter then. A good job I haven’t started on the wine yet 😉

  10. BeckyB says:

    Oh my just look at those skies…..glorious. And as for the garden…..stunning. Can almost smell the box from here 😊

    1. Heyjude says:

      The box is wonderful! I wonder if it likes to grow in a pot.

      1. BeckyB says:

        My Mum has two pots of Box. Was doing ok until she gave it prune burn! However it’s recovering.

        1. Heyjude says:

          Is that the sweet box? Or the stuff used to create topiary balls?

        2. BeckyB says:

          Ooh…technical question. I’ll ask her

        3. Heyjude says:

          I might just give one a try anyway. I fancy some next to the front door!

        4. BeckyB says:

          Do as her two look lovely. She is pretty sure they are Buxos Sempervirens” and variety “Suffruticosa

        5. Heyjude says:

          That’s the common Box, I’m not sure it flowers. The Sweet Box is Sarcococca which is related but not the same plant, I’ll enquire at one of the local nurseries when I visit. Thank you for finding out for me 🙂

        6. BeckyB says:

          ahha, I have learnt something today 🙂

  11. rusty duck says:

    Wonderful to see a familiar and much loved garden ‘out of season’. And all the better without the crowds I would think. I remember we stood for over half an hour trying to get the bridge shot without anyone on it!

    1. Heyjude says:

      There were quite a few people having lunch in the café, but I think I only saw 8 other people in the garden!

  12. restlessjo says:

    Meg’s right! There’s such an air of contentment when you wander gardens. 🙂 The Davidia walk photo with the hydrangea heads and beach is probably my favourite, with the beach about to open up before me. 🙂 But I love the bewitching Hazel and Carol the Camelia too. Ours is in the conservatory. I need to check 🙂 I couldn’t comment on individual shots, Jude. It jumps to the next when I press comment. Stuff and nonsense! 🙂 Love it though. You could take me here. Rhodie time, huh?

    1. Heyjude says:

      You like rhodies? I can do rhodies 😀
      And I know what you mean about the galleries and commenting. WP changed something a while ago and I have found that jumping happens too. I have written a comment and then pressed the comment button which shoots me down the page so I can press send. See if that works?

      1. restlessjo says:

        Ah-ha! Will try that 🙂 I was looking at Mick’s RHS handbook on our way to a job (his 🙂 ) this morning and Trebah was there with a very similar shot to yours but with the rhodies in bloom. Are you a member? Must be worth it in that part of the world. I picked out a few gardens you can take me to 🙂 And some over Gilly’s way.

        1. Heyjude says:

          I’m not a member of RHS any more as there is no large garden near me and free entry to others is usually restricted to months when not much is happening.

        2. restlessjo says:

          We did notice that they were generous with the odd free day in November 🙂 🙂

  13. Beautiful photos. I haven’t been to Trebah yet, but your blog post makes me want to visit!

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s fabulous in the spring.

      1. Yes, I can see some good drawing opportunities there!

  14. Joanne Sisco says:

    This is the kind of garden you would want to visit periodically in the various seasons. The Hydrangea Valley would be a.m.a.z.i.n.g!! I love hydrangeas and this would be a highlight!!
    I’m always a bit in awe of how deeply into spring you are already at this time of year!

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is definitely one to keep visiting. There is a nice pub down the road too 😀

  15. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Have you been back? I still haven’t!

    1. Heyjude says:

      No. I think this was my last visit. Alex sort of messed up my summer. But this year is the year to visit gardens. Can’t wait to get started. Just too darn cold to hold a camera at the moment, if it is not raining that is!

  16. pommepal says:

    Walking through this kind of beauty is a walking meditation Jude. How far away from you is it? I do miss having such beautiful gardens to wander through. Thank you for the re-blog

    1. Heyjude says:

      It’s about 30 miles away depending on the route taken – about an hour on our roads!!

      1. pommepal says:

        I would imagine That is slow, frustrating driving

        1. Heyjude says:

          I’m not in a hurry PP, just as long as I am driving in daylight and the SatNav doesn’t take me down those single-track lanes which I am not keen on as I hate reversing my car.

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