Great Gardens of Cornwall: Trengwainton and Trewidden

I do love the names of the Cornish gardens, and how confusingly similar they are! Remembering whether we’d been to Trewidden or Trewithen or both- or neither- and distinguishing them from Tregothnan, Tregrehan, Trengwainton and Tremenheere took some doing.

As it goes, it was Trewidden we’d been to…after a morning at Trengwainton that is.

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Trengwainton was, I think, the only National Trust garden we visited. Something about it felt different to the other gardens. A bit more ‘roped off’, somewhat more formal in the visitor management sense, dare I say a bit more ‘commercial’?

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I did enjoy Trengwainton, the walled gardens left me green with envy, but there was less of an atmosphere here than I’d found in most of the other great gardens. It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly what created this impression, but it just felt less ‘lived-in’ and less natural.

To be fair I think in part this is down to the natural lie of the land; it’s very flat unlike the other gardens, and the landscaping at Trengwainton is a lot more expansive and open so you don’t get the same feeling of discovery and of finding new surprises around every corner.

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So, on to Trewidden in the afternoon. This was the most small-scale garden in terms of square footage and also on-site operations; this place felt like it was run by just the head gardener and a couple of people in the tea room who also sell the tickets. And I really loved that. The head gardener’s carefully-written guide to the plants at their best that month that we were given on our way in really communicated his love of the garden and its inhabitants.

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Trewidden was probably the least staged of the gardens, and all the nicer for it. This really felt like it could be someone’s back garden, albeit on a grand scale.

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There are a number of prized champion magnolias here, and the tree ferns planted in the old tin quarry, some of which are 150 years old, are a real sight.

Trewidden isn’t the most spectacular or awe-inspiring of the Cornish gardens, but it clearly doesn’t intend to be. It is a peaceful place clearly owned and tended by plant lovers, with the odd quirky touch- such as the red phone box. It’s one of the few gardens still owned by the same family that created it, and you can tell this in the understated way it’s run. A very charming place.

Photos by Dave Musson my very patient husband who has no interest in gardens but nevertheless takes wonderful photos of them.


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