Tree Series #17

A new addition to the Tree Series to welcome in the New Year – wishing everyone a happy, healthy and stress free year ahead.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan by night

For the next couple of months Macro Monday will be replaced by my Tree Series – trees that mainly showcase their structure in the months without foliage.

garden photography: wildlife garden

August’s theme is Open Gardens, or a Flower Show

(This can be a local flower show in your village or town, a national show like Chelsea, Hampton Court etc. or maybe even a small garden open for charity or to the public several times a year)

Other gardens open for charity too, the Wildlife Trust in Cornwall have several venues that raise funds for the Cornish Wildlife Trust. I was able to visit Trevoole Farm in June.


This is my kind of garden: old buildings with ancient stone, lichens, moss, peeling paintwork, faded wood, rusting wrought-iron work, corrugated iron roofs. Comfortable and unpretentious.


The Victorian greenhouse has wide reclaimed boards, a chintzy sofa and pews from a church as well as potting benches, terracotta pots, succulents, tomatoes and an impressive grape-vine. I could have moved in.


And lots of seating spots around, in sunshine or shade. Outside the summer-house or suspended between trees.


Pathways lead through tunnels of rambling roses to the potager and herb garden, or to a courtyard in which rusted shelving, old ladders and a disused AGA are put to use for the growing of herbs and vegetables.

At the rear of the courtyard is a shady area dripping with fuchsias and an overgrown porch.

And a track through the bog garden leads into the patchwork potager where an abandoned Morris Minor attracts a lot of attention, and where bees buzz happily among the borage and marigolds, nasturtiums and sweet-peas.

I took a lot of ideas away from this garden, not least which plants to grow to attract the pollinators. I have already planted the borage, nasturtiums, sweet peas and penstemons.

If you would like to join in with Garden Photography then please take a look at my Garden Photography Page. No complicated rules 🙂

  • Create your own post and title it August: Flower Show / Open Garden
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Add the tag “GardenChallenge” so everyone can find the posts easily in the WP Reader
  • Get your post in by the end of the month, as the new theme comes out on the first Sunday in September.
  • Please visit the sites in the comments to see what others are posting.

garden photography: organic garden

August’s theme is Open Gardens, or a Flower Show

(This can be a local flower show in your village or town, a national show like Chelsea, Hampton Court etc. or maybe even a small garden open for charity or to the public several times a year)

One of the best ways to discover gardens open for charity is through the NGS (National Gardens Schemes) and their annual Yellow Book, the so-called ‘bible’ of garden visiting and the key to secret gardens of England and Wales. I always try to pick up a leaflet of local gardens when visiting a new area of the country, just in case there is one open close by.

Some of the gardens are open to the public at other times, which is lucky if the weather is against you on the charity open day. I haven’t managed to visit many this year here, mainly because whenever the weather has been good enough I have been working in my garden instead. Next year though…

Potager Garden, Constantine


The Potager Garden  has been created out of an old abandoned nursery that was riddled with brambles. It has been transformed into a tranquil space complete with mature trees and herbaceous planting, an organic vegetable patch, hammocks and deck-chairs to relax in and a vegetarian café with luscious cakes.

What I found striking about this garden in July was the colourful borders. Hot orange, yellows, reds.

and I seriously coveted this chair


If you would like to join in with Garden Photography then please take a look at my Garden Photography Page. No complicated rules 🙂

  • Create your own post and title it August: Flower Show / Open Garden
  • Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  • Add the tag “GardenChallenge” so everyone can find the posts easily in the WP Reader
  • Get your post in by the end of the month, as the new theme comes out on the first Sunday in September.
  • Please visit the sites in the comments to see what others are posting.

Penlee Memorial Garden

To the western side of Penzance you will find some of the most architecturally stunning houses clustered around Regent’s Square and the surrounding streets. Well worth spending half an hour to explore. In the midst of this area are the Morrab Sub-Tropical Gardens and Penlee  Park within which is Penlee House Gallery and Museum an elegant gallery set within a Victorian house and park. Changing exhibitions mainly feature famous Newlyn School and Lamorna Group artists.

Wandering through the park on the way back to our holiday home in historic Chapel Street, we stumbled across the delightful Memorial Garden, tucked away by the side of the House. There is also the Orangery Coffee Shop, with its sun-bathed terrace overlooking the park, but unfortunately not open on a Sunday afternoon. This Garden of Remembrance was created in the former kitchen and flower walled enclosure which provided produce and flowers for the house all through the year.

(click on an image to enlarge and scroll through the gallery)

There are several benches on which to rest and take in the beauty of the tiny garden. There is also a small chapel of rest, which was closed on my visit and in front of this an unusual Foxglove Tree was in flower. I have never come across this before. It has fragrant, light lilac-purple flowers in large panicles. The garden is full of sub-tropical planting and is a peaceful, sheltered haven. Don’t miss it if you are ever in Penzance. I know that I’d be very happy to sit there for a few hours with a good book.

Garden Portrait: A Rocky Place

Porthcurno Beach

The Minack Theatre was planned, built and financed by one extraordinary woman, Rowena Cade. The first performance took place in 1932, but things have vastly improved since those days, The theatre is built into the cliffside with steep steps and terracing. I’d love to see a performance there, but what took me to the Minack Theatre on the first Monday in June was the garden. Situated on the cliffs just south of one of Cornwall’s most loved beaches, Portcurno, the site also offers good views along the coastline.

Sempervivum flowering

Sempervivum flowering

While the cliff gardens you see today were planted since 1998 the actual planting reflects the choice Rowena made back in the ’20s and ’30s. The plants reflect the nature of the site, salt laden winds and many inches of rain in the winter followed by dry hot summers. The site is sheltered from the worst of the winds and enables the planting of Silver trees and Strelitzia from South Africa; Aeoniums from the Canaries; Geraniums from Madeira; Agaves from Mexico and Poppies from California.


On the day of my visit it was very stormy, so much so I was concentrating mostly on keeping upright and not being blown over the edge and when the rain arrived I had to give up, but I hope you will enjoy seeing something of this incredible site.

And this plant below I believe is the Poor Knight’s Lily that I saw after flowering, in Auckland, New Zealand before Christmas. How wonderful to see it in flower!


Garden Portrait: Godolphin


I first visited the Godolphin Estate in spring 2014 and returned this year in early summer to see what the differences are. Located in a very peaceful part of west Cornwall, the estate includes the Leeds engine house and stack, the remains of the Godolphin family mine. The riverside walk and Godolphin Hill are popular walking trails and from the top of the hill you can see both the north coast (St Ives Bay) and the south coast (Mount Bay), and when you are tired of walking and exploring the ancient gardens with their medieval layout, then pop into the Piggery for cake and coffee.

In April the woodland leading to the house and garden is full of bluebells.


The King’s Garden is the sixteenth century walled privy garden to Godolphin’s state room, the King’s Room.

In April it is a space filled with fresh greens, white and pink, borders of tulips, stocks and fritillaries. Magnolia trees provide welcome shade and cloud-like box hedging lines the gravel paths.


In June blues and purples dominate with spires of lupins and foxgloves and delphiniums

Leaving this delightful walled garden you pass the stables and the house where a divine cobbled courtyard can be found behind ancient doors.

Here you enter the three remaining compartments of the original nine 16th century Tudor design.

In April tulips dominate. Big blowsy ones and unusual colour combinations such as white and green or yellow and green contrast with bright red camellias. The scent of stocks and wallflowers permeate the air close to the pretty blue door in the wall.

In June the borders are full of purple aquilegia, foxgloves, irises, poppies and roses.

And the Gardener’s Potting Shed is a true delight. Click the link for a look inside.


Another visit to St Michael’s Mount


A second visit to the mount on an overcast day in June meant that most of the Gaillardia (Blanket flower) and the Osteospermum (African Daisy) daisy-like flowers were tightly closed, but the succulents were flowering and there were some noticeable changes to the garden since my visit at the end of April . There is plenty to grab your attention in June including lots of colour.

On entering the terraces the first thing you notice are the banks of bright pink flowers of Lampranthus haworthioides (header photo) and the tall spires of the pinky-purple echium that reach out over the cliff to the sea. Climbing the steep routes up the cliff bring you close to the flowering aloes, agaves and other succulents and in amongst these are the more unusual flowers such as Kangaroo Paw (normally associated with Australia) or leucadendron argenteum, the silver-leaf protea from South Africa.

Art ‘en plein air’

the summer house

There is a garden, tucked away down one of the maze of winding streets in St Ives, which is visited more for its artwork than its floral attributes.

The Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden sits in a tranquil green oasis amidst the tightly packed houses and crowded streets teeming with the noise of excited children, screeching gulls and barking dogs.

Spring 1966

I am drawn to the shape and smoothness of ‘Spring’. I have to circle it to find the best way of photographing it. Looking for patterns created by the dappled shade.

Barbara Hepworth came to live and work here in 1949 until her death 40 years ago. She was a contemporary of Henry Moore and one of the most important Modernist sculptors of the 20th century. The best examples of her work can be found here in the Trewyn Studio and garden in Cornwall. Her work is full of her distinctive forms with their undulating curves, pierced ‘eyes’ and hollow spaces. The big bronze statues just call out to be touched. Some are large enough to enter and the shapes seem oddly familiar as they replicate forms found in nature.

It is not a huge garden, but the planting blends perfectly with the greens and bronze sculptures. Birds and butterflies dart around and the atmosphere is calm and slows you down as you wander along the overgrown, narrow pathways forcing you to stop frequently to study the shapes you stumble across amidst the kind of planting familiar to Cornish gardens: fuchsias, camellias, ferns and magnolias as well as exotic ginkgo biloba, a Chusan palm, a stand of bamboo with magnificent thick stems, each providing their own form and structure.

Abutilon vitifolium

Sunlight dapples the undergrowth and penetrates the shrubs to reveal the half-hidden bronzes. A small pond, an unexpected scent, shadow patterns, the memory of Christine, an Australian blogger who sadly died not long after visiting this garden and posed for a picture through one of the large sculptures. Her smile seems to linger. I am acutely aware how precious and fragile life is.

Circular apertures, like these below in the sculpture ‘Two Forms’ (Divided Circle) probably the most well-known of Hepworth’s pieces, entice me to create my own art from hers. It was designed soon after the artist was diagnosed with throat cancer.

The bronze flowers of Euphorbia mellifera (honey spurge) just cry out to be framed by the bronze colourisation within the piece. And I am desperate to capture the pattern of the leaves on the side.

‘Four Square’ (Walk Through) is the largest piece and can in fact be walked through, though not many people did. If you position yourself carefully you can line up the ‘pierced eyes’ on this piece to create an unusual image of one through the other. I desaturated this image as I wanted to show off the form rather than the rather lovely greenish blue colours.

‘pierced eyes’

The patinisation of the highly polished dark brown surfaces produces patterns of greenish-blue colours that are in themselves, works of art.

Many people came and went whilst I was studying this space. At under ½ acre it won’t keep you long if all you are interested in are the plants. The sculptures on the other hand may keep you a little longer. Patience is a virtue if you want to create photos without people in the way. And watching where the sun falls can have you scurrying back to a sculpture to capture it in a different light or angle.

Don’t hurry your visit. This little gem may surprise you.

Header photo is of Barbara Hepworth’s summer house. The sculpture is ‘Sea Form’ (Portmeor) 1958, a plaster prototype for a bronze object. Barbara came from my home town of Wakefield, Yorkshire and the Hepworth Wakefield opened in May 2011)

Morrab Sub-Tropical Garden

Morrab Gardens started out as the property of wealthy brewer, Samuel Pidwell. Pidwell built Morrab House in 1841 as his home on a three acre strip of land running from the town centre to the sea front. In fact the word Morrab comes from the Cornish for sea-shore (mor = sea and app = shore).


We nearly bought  a house overlooking these gardens, but that is another story, and I can’t believe that I have not written a post about them other than a brief mention in my Penzance post on Travel Words.


Amongst the fine examples of tender and rare plants are huge examples of the ubiquitous cordyline (or Cornish palm), tree ferns, banana plants and Japanese Bitter Orange.


There is a bandstand, a memorial to the Boer War 1904 and a rather splendid fountain with a seal on a ball balancing a fish spouting water in the centre. A very pleasant and popular space in the town where people gather to exercise, picnic and socialise.