Local gardens South West Cornwall
Trevarno Gardens & National Museum of Gardening
Bonython Estate Gardens
THE LOST GARDENS OF HELIGAN
Cornwall is a very special and separate part of Britain since it was isolated from the mainland by the River Tamar. Consequently it retains much of its Celtic character, in fact the name Cornwall comes from the Saxon Cornovii and Wealas meaning Welsh of the west. Historically this is a region of Iron and Bronze Age settlements and monuments, holy wells and ancient churches, a land criss-crossed by the paths of the early saints. The intricate and decidedly rugged coastline of the county being vulnerable to invaders, it is a land of impressive castles. Tintagel Castle, perched on its headland, was claimed by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth century to be the birthplace of King Arthur and the twin castles of Pendennis and St Mawes were built by Henry VIII to protect the shipping in the River Fal. The wonderfully romantic St Michael’s Mount on the rocky island dominating Mount’s Bay was originally the site of a Benedictine chapel established by Edward the Confessor. The mount, joined at low tide to the mainland by a causeway gives magnificent views to Land’s End and the Lizard.
The 300 miles of coastline is punctuated by the most enchanting array of quaint and picturesque fishing villages. Today Newlyn is the largest fish-landing station in England and Wales. Not that this county’s seafaring activities were always strictly within the law, Cornwall is rich in stories of smuggling, wrecking and pirateering. For the visitor there is everything here to please with the Atlantic coast offering towering cliffs, mountainous seas and glorious sand dunes. In contrast the Cornish Riviera, altogether softer, gives wide golden beaches and mellow fishing villages. The shores of the Helford river, regarded by many as the most beautiful estuary in the country, is protected by the National Trust, as is much of the coastline, including Frenchman’s Creek, the location of Daphne du Maurier’s novel. The Cornwall Wildlife Trust, founded in 1962 by local people has established forty nature reserves covering over 3,000 acres.
The Cornish hinterland largely grew up around the mining and china clay industry. It is difficult to realise now that Cornwall once dominated the tin and copper markets of the world, but the remnants of the industry, the ruined mine engine houses, are scattered over the landscape. Bodmin Moor covers about a hundred square miles of eastern Cornwall, a bleak, windswept and lonely land of granite Tors and Brown Willy, at 1,377 feet, the county’s highest point gives glorious views across the moor. On the edge of the moor, Bodmin, an ancient town established in the sixth century and from 1835 until 1989 the capital of Cornwall, runs steam trains to Bodmin Parkway, with stations for Cardinham Woods and Lanhydrock House, a lovely National Trust property overlooking the River Fowey. Truro, a medieval tin town and principal port for its export can claim the first Anglican cathedral to be built in England since London’s St Paul’s. The county town, dominated by the three-towered cathedral has a wealth of Regency and Georgian buildings. The centre of Cornwall certainly has a great deal to offer scenically but wherever you are in the county you are never more than twenty miles from the coast and it is the coastal resorts which act as a magnet to the vast majority of holiday makers. Looe, Fowey and Falmouth, the main seaside resorts on the Riviera coast, offer a dazzling array of seaside activities, enhanced by their glorious garden settings influenced by the warm Gulf Stream. No visitor should leave the county without seeing The Lost Gardens of Heligan, the magnificent gardens of the Tremayne family, wonderfully restored to their pre-First World War beauty, and now attracting over 300,000 visitors each year.
If the visitor to Cornwall should tire of the charms of the familiar resorts, then on the Isles of Scilly they will discover the nature reserve supreme. The five inhabited islands each have their own distinctive character with spectacular beaches, balmy climate and tranquil atmosphere. Tresco, of course is renowned for its sub-tropical Abbey Garden, a blaze of summer colour, but then Cornwall is truly a land for all seasons.