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A Week in Cornwall – Part 5 – The Japanese Garden

As we left Cornwall after our week’s holiday we spent the morning at The Japanese Garden which was part way back to Devon where we were going to stay for a few days. We had visited this garden years ago but could not remember it at all, so it would all be a surprise.

A Japanese gardens has certain elements that make it a Japanese garden, a feeling of welcome, topiarised trees and shrubs, stone sculptures often in the form of lanterns, beautiful calm vistas, paths to invite calm slow wandering and moss in abundance, plus of course that essential water.

Let us begin at our Cornwall garden to see if it gave us a warm welcome, and see if there were areas that gave us the right feeling of calm and peace. Throughout this look at the Cornwall Japanese Garden you will notice how powerful the sense of light and shade can be in creating an atmospheric garden.

 

Peaceful areas appeared regularly at the end of winding paths or through archways.

   

Moss featured here as groundcover or growing on branches and tree trunks in the damp atmosphere. These patches of moss either on the ground or aerial are great for wildlife especially as they are always moist. Overall wildlife feels happy in Japanese gardens in the UK, and effecively act as predatorial pest controllers.

    

Training trees is an ancient Japanese art practised for centuries by Japanese gardeners following set rules using coniferous ans deciduous trees alike. It is a skill just coming into being in 21st century Britain. I love using it in the garden!

    

Stone sculptures were visible throughout including many forms of lantern. We use a few of these in our interpretation of a Japanese garden her at home in our Plealey patch.

       

Bamboo of course is another essential element of any Japanese garden, either growing in its many forms or used as a fencing or building material. It is beautiful and structural whichever way it is used.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of the Cornwall Japanese Garden as much as we did. There is so much Western gardeners can learn from Japanese garden design and from the skills of Japanese gardeners. They can teach us a lot about creating peace and harmony in our gardens.

 

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Beyond the Potting Sheds – Heligan Part 2

A few more minutes exploring the secret corners of the potting shed area and then we went off in search of the Italian Garden. We were surprised to find another old restored glasshouse and a cutting garden full of dahlias.

 

We were delighted to see a display of illustrations from “A Song for Will” illustrated by Martin Impney, who is a friend of our son Jamie. We have a lovely signed copy at home. Martin has a unique style of illustration that appeals equally to children and adults.

  

We left the working garden and wandered past interesting plantings to the Italian Garden, with its strong symmetry so different to the rest of Heligan.

 

From here we decided to make our way through the woodlands towards the tropical valley, a feature common to many Cornish coastal gardens. But our progress was stopped when we came across another gateway into a smaller walled garden enclosing another beautifully restored glasshouse. Enjoy the wonderful crafstmanship that goes into making these old glasshouses and restoring them by looking at the details in this little gallery. Click on first pic and then navigate with the arrows.

Within the walled garden box hedges acted as enclosures for beds of cut flowers, especially dahlias, in an amazing rich array of colours.

Leaving the walled cutflower garden, our most enjoyable diversion, we made our way down to the valley garden which we remembered contained completely different types of plants than elsewhere at Heligan. However to get there we had to wander through woodland with sharp contrasts of light and shade.

   

The valley is strikingly lush and full of strong foliage many plants with huge dramatic leaves. We took a circular route through the valley along gravel paths and boardwalks sometimes raised to make bridges over the stream.

We will take you through the tropical valley garden with another gallery. Click on the first picture and navigate with the arrows.

 

 

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A Week in Cornwall – Part 4 – Heligan

The Lost Gardens of Heligan is one of the top garden attractions in the country as figures have shown. The gardens were discovered and unearthed by Tim Smitt when he explored the gardens which had been derelict since the end of World War I, when so many of the gardeners did not return. The gardens were totally overgrown, buildings derelict and glasshouses tumbling down, glass broken and wood rotting.

Smitt decided to resurrect them and opened the gardens to the public as a team of gardeners and archaeologists began work. They were called, romantically, The Lost Gardens of Heligan. We visited soon after it opened and really enjoyed its romantic atmosphere.

The restoration is now just about complete, so we looked forward to our return visit to see it in its new guise. We soon realised that we were in for a treat as soon as we entered the coffee shop for our usual boost of coffee and cakes before our wanderings. Old garden tools were beautifully framed and displayed on the walls and the building had a lovely old rustic feel about them.

 

As we left the cafe a fingerpost presented us with plenty of options. We were most interested in the productive walled garden with its glasshouses, coldframes, bothy and potting shed. So we made our way there passing interesting plantings along the way.

   

We entered the walled garden through a gateway and made our way towards apple arches forming a covered walkway, rich with fruit. Around all border edges fruit is trained to create living productive fences. Across the length of each garden patch vegetables, roots, beans and salads march in long strong rows as straight as can be.

    

The gardeners were busily strengthening the traditions laid down by their gardener predecessors. One gardener was spreading seaweed collected just hours before from the beach and driven back to the walled garden by tractor and trailer. Nearby potatoes were being harvested and boxed up in wooden trays in readiness for storage in dark sheds or cellars.

 

Flowers for cutting were blossoming in lines parallel to the veggies, zinnias, dahlias and antirrhinums.

 

Leaving the walled garden we moved into a smaller attached walled yard, where coldframes sat wide open for aeration.These sat happily alongside a collection of glasshouses. These glasshouses were the very ones we had seen years ago in a state of total dereliction. Now they stand proud and productive thanks to the skills of craftsmen utilising traditional craftsmanship and skills.

The walls were furnished with ancient trained fruit trees, apples, pears, peaches and plums.

    

Beyond the glasshouses the potting shed stood holding the memories of those gardeners lost in the first world war, terracotta pots filled each row of every rack where close by garden tools hung on whitewashed walls. We could feel a special atmosphere in this shed, full of the skills of gardeners past and present.

     

Leaving the potting shed we still had lots to see and plenty to explore. See my next post for Heligan Part 2, Beyond the Potting Shed.

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A Week in Cornwall – Part 3 -St Ives

When holidaying in Cornwall in the summer of 2018 we planned to visit St Ives as we had enjoyed it so much when we visited decades ago. We loved the seafront, quayside, the quaint streets full of art galleries some being working galleries and the garden and workshop of our best female sculptor of all time, Barbara Hepworth. And of course we mustn’t forget the wonderful Tate St Ives, a wonderful piece of architecture housing incredible artworks.

        

These photos were taken in a way to avoid the crowds. St Ives had become a busy crowded little seaside town and we were greatly disappointed. But at least the Barbara Hepworth Gallery and Garden did live up to our expectations and match our memories.

 

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A Week in Cornwall – The Eden Project – Part 2

I promised to return with this post from the Eden Project in Cornwall continuing just as we were about to enter the Mediterannean Zone. I have to admit I prefer this dome to the Tropical Zone, but I can’t explain why. It simply feels more comfortable.

The structure of the dome reflects the framework supporting these vines.

It was the plants that flowered so full of colour that made this dome so exciting.

  

Arid plantings contrasted strongly with the brighter Med plantings, and it is the structure and texture of the arid plants that made them so attractive.

         

I will finish this look at the Eden Project biomes with a couple of photos of some lively sculpture.

 

In a future Cornwall holiday post I will share our visit to the other Tim Smitt project, The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

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A week in Cornwall – Part 2 – The Eden Project

It had been years since we last visited the Eden Project, so we were excited to return when we holidayed in Cornwall in the Autumn of 2018. We knew that there would have been so much development in that time. When we did visit  again during our week’s holiday in Cornwall, the project had developed almost beyond belief. The first view of the domes from the top paths is always stunning and most inviting. The domes were the brainchild of founder Tim Smitt and designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw.

   

The walkway down to the main feature, the project’s domes, was early in its development when we last visited so we were amazed at how interesting it was on our return visit. Here is a taster of what we saw as we descended down to the domes.

      

The first dome is the rain forest zone, where plants that we see more often as house plants grow healthy and tall, flowering and fruiting as in the wild. Exploring the dome takes you right up to the top of the building which affords great views. Wandering back down gives us as much interest to enjoy as on the climb up. Exploring this dome is quite an experience!

After exploring the tropical dome we had a break for refreshments, coffee and cakes as usual and then moved along the corridor leading to the Mediterranean Zone. That is the subject of the next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Week in Cornwall – Part 1 – Poppy’s Cottage Garden

We had a week in Cornwall September last year so here is a series all about our explorations ans wanderings.

Early on in our week away in Cornwall we set out to visit a little garden in the middle of the countryside, Poppy’s Cottage Garden. After a difficult year of weather the garden showed a little wear and tear, as did gardens everywhere.

Poppy had designed and created a garden that entices visitors to explore and wander, corners to look around, archways to pass through and seats to rest upon and absorb the atmosphere.

 

However strange seasons are and how muddled up plants must become they seem to not only survive but even produce flowers.

           

The garden, like most cottage styled patches was attractive to wildlife adding a further level of interest. Added movement, sounds and colours.

 

Every cottage garden needs a piece of sculpture or two, serious or humourous.

  

 

We enjoyed the plant combinations which are a strong feature of this little garden. The other planned garden visits were for much bigger gardens.

 

 

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A coastal walk in Cornwall

While on a week’s break in Cornwall we decided to try a coastal walk and also decided that the day to do it would be the anniversary of my surgery to rebuild my right leg. Before my surgeon performed this complex 5 hour operation I was able to walk a few hundred yard at a struggle and in pain, so I was determined to see what I could do exactly a year on.

We had a great coffee and brownies at a beach cafe and took off. Immediately the path went steeply uphill and we could soon look back to the town we had left from, Portreath.

 

We had not been to Cornwall for years and quickly remembered just how beautiful the coast line is, with every step giving us breathtaking views.

We took regular breaks for drinks of water and a close look at our walk map. We stopped or slowed all the time simply to take in the beauty of the landscape we were walking through and to check up on my newly rebuilt right leg! Just after this particular stop we were entertained by a pair of Kestrels hunting as a duo team playing and following their instincts. We walked alongside them as companions for a good half mile enjoying their antics and acrobatics before they finallyy turned away.

A seriously steep sided couple of valleys were our hardest challenge of the walk. The first we had to zigzag down sometimes using steps cut into the valley side to climb the steepest sections. A fallen plank bridge, the only way to cross a deeply cut stream, meant a scramble to get across the trickling water. It was a great relief to get over and begin the ascent. The second valley side was a walk along steep stone tracks.

We met a couple of brothers sharing a walk who stopped to talk and were fascinated to meet us with me tackling this long difficult walk with a walking stick. They asked if we would like our photo taken, a suggestion we accepted readily. They were great to talk to and gave us chance to catch our breath too.

 

The half way point was at Derrick Cove, our signal to start the return leg of our walk, but not until a twenty minute rest and plenty of water. We had walked three and a half miles and knew we had the same to do to get back.

We decided to walk a slightly different way to avoid the steepest valley climb, but this meant walking along a road for a while. It meant also dropping down into Portreath from a different direction so we enjoyed different views of the town for the last few minutes of our walk.

So back at the car we felt elated but ached severely. We had such mixed emotions, but overall a sense of huge achievement was the strongest emotion of all.