Kerdhva Gov Jori V

OK, for those of you who don’t speak Cornish, this is the King George V Memorial Walk in Hayle, West Cornwall. Hayle doesn’t rate highly on the ‘must see‘ places to visit in the county, but you would be making a big mistake not to come and walk by the Hayle Estuary alongside the Copperhouse Pool, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an area of great scientific value, it is also a level walk and suitable for pushchair and wheelchair users.

Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus

The more picturesque path which has been created immediately adjacent to the left-hand side of the road is stony but level throughout. The path is bordered by flowers and there is plenty of seating en route, with gaps in the flower beds to enable you to admire the view.

Hardy Geranium
Hardy Geranium
Chile Lantern Tree
Crinodendron hookerianum (Chile Lantern Tree)

On a gentle, warm sunny day this is a beautiful place to visit. The planting is divine. Colours intermingle in the borders and sub-tropical plants stand side-by-side with temperate specimens. A shady walk leads off into a woodland path where there is even a pond complete with water-lilies. A bug hotel welcomes children to discover the joys of nature and plenty of seating allows for people of all ages to enjoy the space. A greenhouse is full of new cuttings, raised seedlings, information, pots and volunteers cheerfully maintain the borders removing weeds with a smile.

Once an important port, even during the bronze age, the town was also a pioneer of the industrial revolution. The whole character of the town built up around its two foundries: the Cornish Copper Company and John Harvey and Sons. Between them they served the world, jointly building the world’s largest pumping engines (used to drain the Haarlem lake in Holland) and constructing Cornish beam engines for mines around the world.

There is a small car-park at the beginning of the walk next to an open-air swimming pool (summer only) and if you want to continue the walk you can cross the estuary and return via the town by a circular route. Look out for visiting wading birds in the estuary. Another reason to visit Hayle are the Towans. An impressive stretch of north west-facing golden sand that rarely gets crowded and is ideal for sand yachts and kite buggies.  Hayle Towans (towans is the Cornish word for dunes) also known as Upton Towans can be accessed from several different places in Hayle.

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

Cornish Wild Flowers in June

The hedgerows, lanes and fields in Cornwall are awash with colour in the month of June. So here are just some of the beauties I managed to capture, though not all of them have been identified.




Cow Parsley and grasses
Cow Parsley and grasses


Hawthorn Hedgerows and Broom and field of grasses

There are so many colours to be found in the natural world.

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.

Garden Portrait: Lanhydrock

The Gatehouse

Lanhydrock in Cornwall is famous for its large collection of magnolias – a shrub with a well-deserved reputation as a garden aristocrat. They have over 120 varieties growing in the gardens. 

The fabulous formal parterre brings a real touch of grandeur to the gardens.

Benches and lawns provide places to rest and take in your surroundings.


Paths through to the higher garden are a vision of pink and white at this time of year

 and in the spring sunshine you are sure to find a peaceful spot


Garden Portrait: St Michael’s Mount

I have traversed to St Michael’s Mount several times over the years and even climbed up to the castle itself a couple of times, but I have never been to the garden as it is only open for a short time from the end of April until September. But this year I was there on the first open day of the season at low tide so that I could walk over the causeway connecting the island to the mainland at Marazion.


View back towards Marazion

It is the most remarkable garden exposed to gales and salty winds, but the Gulf Stream keeps the frosts away and the granite rock acts as a giant radiator – absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night creating a micro climate in which all sorts of  plants flourish from Mexico, Canary Islands, New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa.

The Laundry Lawn

The gardens are on the rocky slopes and are not easily accessible with the steep and narrow paths, steps and terraces and require constant maintenance and conservation to keep them in good condition. As you enter the garden on the east side  you follow an avenue of Cordyline australis with views over Mount’s Bay towards the Lizard. The Laundry Lawn is a place for relaxing, playing and picnicking. The steep bank to your right (see header photo) is part of the defences during the English Civil War and on your left is a Pill Box from the second world war. And as you reach this point, you see ahead of you the dramatic East Terrace, rearing up above your head to the east wing of the castle.

Now comes the difficult part. To reach the upper slopes you have to scramble up the steep paths where aloes and agaves rear out of the bedrock and exotic succulents cling to every crevice imaginable. Some paths have steep drops, some have handrails, others do not. Aloes flourish and on the top you reach The Tortoise Lawn where you find a Victorian well. Another pathway takes you into the Walled Gardens. Not only do you need good footwear, but also a head for heights as below you is the dizzying drop to the sea and above you rises the sheer sides of the castle.

Lower terrace of the walled gardens

A profusion of colour greets you as you move into the West Terraces. South African Osteospermum spread over the granite walls. I am taken aback as I only know these as late spring and summer flowers and it is still only April. Geraniums, pelargoniums, Leucondendrum argenteum and Aeonium rise up amongst Agave and Aloes.

Walls, railings and the sea

The planting on such steep slopes is overwhelming. I am lost for words as I look around me, not knowing which pathway to take. I have never seen a garden like this and I am stunned to think what I have been missing all these years.

Sheer profusion of flowers

And all the while you are aware of the great expanse of the bay, the endless sky and the incredible clear light and all the hard work that must go into creating and maintaining such a wondrous garden. It is magical.

View towards Newlyn, Mousehole and the Minack Theatre

A separate post will appear with close-ups of some of the succulents in this garden. It was just too difficult to decide which of my many photos to leave out!

And this is a birthday post for the OH who unfortunately was unable to access much of this garden due to the nature of the terrain and his vertigo. But he was very happy to test a bench for me and look out over the bay towards the Lizard peninsula whilst I meandered. (Between you and me I think he was grateful to have a rest )

Contemplating and bench testing in the former gun emplacement area


Garden Portrait: Trelissick

Perched at the head of the Fal Estuary, Trelissick Gardens boasts jaw-dropping views and a huge array of plant species. An inspirational garden with varied woodland planting, mixed borders with bright summer and autumn flowers together with exotic perennials. At its heart, the 40-acre garden itself is a year-round display of colourful blooms, noted for its camellias, rhododendrons and a collection of photinia (red robin) and azaleas. It is also one of the best gardens for walkers. Extensive trails meander through the woodland, traverse the parkland and follow the riverside.


We have been visiting this garden over the past three years, always in the spring-time when the azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias are in flower. Apart from the vast parkland which we have yet to explore I think we may have covered all the areas of the splendid garden. Come walk with me and enjoy the tranquillity and beauty of this delightful Cornish garden.

The entrance

The entrance

After passing the entrance to the house and the orangery the path meanders through a metal curved pergola leading to a rustic Victorian summer house which overlooks a former tennis court with magnificent views of the Carrick Roads. Just make sure you take the time to admire the colourful rhododendrons and azaleas along these paths. And note the intricately designed dry stone walls and cobbled paving stones.

Let’s continue to the Cornish Cross, legend has it that from here the local priest would preach to the fishermen in their boats below, and the Gazebo at the bottom end of the garden, overlooking the river, though it is difficult to see through all the trees. If you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of the chain-driven King Harry ferry, a small car and passenger ferry that takes you across an historic crossing to and from the Roseland peninsula to Truro, Cornwall’s only city, and Falmouth.

Cornish Cross

The Cornish Cross

From the gazebo make your way down the stairs to the lower path that will take you across the garden bridge to the other side of the road where you will find the best of the camellias.

There is also an orchard and magnolia specimen trees along with a delightful summer-house with stained-glass windows. Back over the wisteria-covered bridge we will make our way back up through the large open lawn with the enormous Cornish Red rhododendron and from there to the exit. There are lots of lovely trees, shrubs and flowers to admire in these borders too, and at the end, next to the sensory garden you will find the most magnificent wisteria. Sadly it is always in bud when we visit in April, but I did manage to catch a little bit in flower over the shop doorway this year. Take a wander around the plant centre or the second-hand bookshop before taking a cream tea at the Crofter’s Café.


Finally I will leave you with a view over the parkland. The dog-friendly Roundwood Quay walk begins opposite the car-park by crossing over a cattle-grid into the parkland dotted with oak trees and views of the glistening waters of the River Fal and Carrick Roads, but there are many longer trails if you have the time including one south to the beach.


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

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.


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.


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!


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.


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.

Wild flowers in a Cornish spring

Hundreds of different wild flowers can be found when walking in the countryside in Cornwall in spring. Here are a few of the varieties I have photographed recently. I’m not totally confident about all the names so if you spot a mistake then please do not hesitate to correct me. (Please click on an image for more information)

Heath Dog Violet: Similar to the common Dog Violet this plant is found in damp grassland and heath. The flower is very delicate and pale blue has dark veins on the lower petal.

One of the most pungent smells you will come across is the wild garlic or ransoms, which have broad leaves that are edible and umbels of starry white flowers, but you may also come across the three cornered leek (sometimes called wild onion and officially called Allium triquetrum) which is more delicate, and slender than wild garlic, a more feminine version, with slimmer, angular, less shouty leaves and petite flowers. More like a white bluebell. And often found growing amongst bluebells.

Another strong smell as you hike the coastal pathways across the heathland and moors is that of the common gorse. The flowers are scented (variously described as smelling of almonds or coconuts) and are a rich, golden yellow.

common gorse

Some found in the woodland

And a few found along the coast

Garden Portrait: Trebah

Visiting Cornwall in springtime means that you must visit a garden or two. Cornwall gardens are magnificent in spring: Magnolias, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Camelias and lots of other plants to see. Spring comes early to Cornwall. It is judged that when seven champion trees at Trebah, Trengwainton, Trewidden, Caerhays, Heligan, Tregothnan and Trewithen burst into flower with 50 blooms that spring has arrived in England. This year it was recorded on 3rd March 2014. 

We visited in April when the sun was shining and the garden was looking lovely. We’d been to view a couple of houses in the area, so decided to drive down to have a lovely fish lunch at The Ferryboat at Helford’s Passage on the Helford River and then visit Trebah Gardens which are close by. Frenchman’s Creek of Daphne du Maurier fame is near here, and you can still catch a little ferry boat over to Helford and walk there.


Important things first – LUNCH!

Come walk with me through Trebah a sub-tropical garden in south Cornwall near Falmouth:


Immediately through the entrance you find yourself in the tropics with succulents, aloes, agaves lining the pathway.

Steps lead down to the water garden where cascades and rills and a series of pools are bordered by candelabra primulas and water irises, cabbage skunk, arum lilies and ferns, criss-crossed by a meandering path.

With views over rhododendron valley and lovely tree ferns.




Continuing through the garden along the Beach Path, you follow the stream and pass several pools and a bamboo maze, Bamboozle, where several different varieties and species can be found in one collection.

Gunnera – the large rhubarb plant – is starting to grow and there is a passage through the plants. At the moment the sun is in exactly the right position for the leaves to glow.

Gunnera glow 2

Passing the azalea bank and the hydrangea valley, which contains two acres of Mop-head’ Hydrangea macrophylla in Oxford and Cambridge blues (due to the acidic soil at Trebah), we finally reach Mallard pond with a sweet little footbridge and the stairs to the beach. Why the rush to the beach? Because here is Healey’s Boathouse selling Roskilly ice-cream and we only had five minutes to spare!

One ice-cream later, we returned through the gardens taking the upper path, Laurelane, from which you can climb up to Martino for a view over the Helford River and have a rest at Alice’s Seat – a reconstruction of the cob-walled and thatched open-fronted summerhouse originally known as Alice’s Retreat which was built for Alice Hext who purchased Trebah with her husband Charles in 1907.




Returning to the Lawn Path, we found a seat to sit and enjoy the sunshine and the views over the garden. I hope you have enjoyed visiting Trebah too.

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

Garden Portrait: The Lost Gardens of Heligan Part II

The second part of this walk in The Lost Gardens of Heligan starts with the sheltered Woodland Walk where we will discover the mud sculptures of  The Giant’s Head and Mud Maid, and the more recent Grey Lady.

The Woodland Walk begins outside the ticket office and is a pleasant and fairly level walk past the sculptures.


In 1998 Cornish artists Sue and Pete Hill were commissioned by Heligan to create two imaginative living sculptures along Woodland Walk. Wanting to use an enormous tree stump exposed following the Great Storm of 1990 it became the skull of the sculpture. Mind Your Own Business was planted for the skin and Montbretia is used for the spiky hair. His eyes are chips of china and glass found on site.

Continue down the pathway dappled in the sunshine to find the Mud Maid (used as the header) and the Grey Lady. A much less substantial presence as she hides amongst the trees, planted with wild roses, to give an evocative fairytale look. The Grey Lady was named after a myth about a mysterious grey figure who was seen disappearing away from the main house.

The Mud Maid has a custom built hollow timber framework and windbreak netting. Her hands and face are a mixture of mud, cement and sand originally coated in yoghurt to set lichens growing. Her head is planted with Woodsedge and Montbretia and ivy has been trained to clothe her. In late spring when the trees are fully in leaf, shafts of sunlight strike drifts of bluebells and the birdsong lulls her to sleep. (from the sculpture information plaques)

At the end of the Woodland Walk where you will find the Grey Lady, the path divides, continuing to the Jungle or right along Georgian Ride to the Lost Valley. Not having time to do everything in one day, we opted for the Jungle. At the junction there is a marvellous view of Mevagissey and the sea and a sign, which had absolutely no influence on our decision.

Anyway, the Jungle was a good choice. Created in a steep-sided south-facing valley garden you find a riot of luscious, exotic and architectural plantings from around the world. A raised boardwalk leads around four ponds, under tree ferns, giant rhubarb, bananas and towering palms.  Source: Heligan leaflet and website

(click on an image to scroll through the gallery)

Leaving the Jungle with time running out before the gardens closed we continued past the East Lawn, around the Steward’s House where there is another tea-room, sadly closed at this time, and back into the main gardens to the exit.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk. And if you enjoy walking, whether in a garden or alongside a river, or by the coast then join Jo’s Monday Walks where you are in for further treats, or where you can share your walk with us.

Click here to see the first part of this walk.