Britain’s Gardens: Trebah Garden, Cornwall

In the West Country lies one of the Great Gardens of Cornwall, a true subtropical paradise, named Trebah Garden. This stunning Cornish valley garden offers a year-round experience for its visitors.

Trebah Garden has been around for some time; we have records dating back to  1085! In that time, Trebah was the property of the Bishop of Exeter. In the 18th century a Georgian House was built by the Nicholls at the head of the valley. During WWII, the 29th US Infantry sailed to Normandy from the property’s private beach. The concrete and infrastructure which was installed during this time has since been removed by the Martin family, who also planted the Hydrangeas and improved the lower lakes. Under the care of Major Tony Hibbert and his wife Eira Hibbert, the garden was much improved and was opened to the public in the 1980s. Since 1990, Trebah Garden Trust has owned the garden.

Trebah, with its beautiful coastal backdrop, is a wooded 25 acre garden and consisting of over four miles of footpath and a private beach on the Helford River. The view and the natural spring at the top of the garden are amazing and it’s a joy to discover the Australian tree ferns and palms, huge bamboos, fragranced Mediterranean and Southern hemisphere plants. The garden also includes 9 UK Champion Trees, 10 Country Champions and 19 County Champions. The iconic Chusan Palm is 50ft in height and is the tallest in the UK. In addition, the award-winning Planters Cafe offers locally sourced, seasonal and home cooked, food. There are even quizzes and educational games to keep the children entertained.

Every season has its advantages and Trebah Garden is absolutely gorgeous to visit in the autumn season with leaves changing colour and the cool fresh air of Cornwall on a crisp autumn day. During autumn you can enjoy the Cercidyphyllum Japonicum Pendulum – small weeping trees from Japan – that produce a strong smell of candyfloss as the leaves change colour. Around the Chris Cross, another scented bush does the same, namely the Ageratina ligustrinum. Due to the dry summer this year, the Ginger Lilies (Hedychium Devon Cream) are flowering late. You can find the highly scented lilies at the Water Garden. You can even find colourful blue, grey and even turquoise Hydrangea plants around Mallard Pond and vivid yellow, coral red and pointed blue-green foliage on the Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia caulescens) on the rockery above the Main Lawn.

Trebah Garden is open daily, all year round from 10am with last entry to the garden at 4pm. The garden closes at 5:30pm and the Visitor Centre and Shops are open until 4.30pm. The Planters Cafe is open daily from 10am to 4pm.

If you are looking for a retreat after a long day of strolling around Trebah Garden, stay at the lovely Budock Vean Hotel (situated 12 minutes from Trebah Garden by foot). Perched proudly on the banks of the Helford River, Budock Vean is enveloped by more than 65 acres of sub-tropical organically managed gardens. There’s a list of all the flora and fauna spotted outside, and the hotel invites you to add any new ones you see to it. The award-winning restaurant places a strong focus on locally produced fare, so fish dishes are their specialty. In addition, guests get unlimited and free access to the hotel’s golf course as well as many other activities like shooting, riding and sailing. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty affords spectacular woodland walks by the estuary and access to a dramatic coastline.

Alternatively, you can stay at the wonderful St Michael’s Hotel & Spa in Falmouth, which is only a fifteen minute drive from the garden. St Michael’s Hotel & Spa is a chic contemporary beachside getaway in a stunning position overlooking Falmouth Bay, with an idyllic sandy beach at the bottom of its glorious sub-tropical gardens. The Flying Fish Restaurant is relaxed, lively and modern. The menu is excellent with an emphasis on local fish and seafood; seasonal Cornish crab, oysters, mackerel and mussels feature regularly.

Have fun exploring the exotic wildness of Trebah Garden!

Flower at Trebah Garden image, Fountain at Trebah Garden image and Coastal Backdrop at Trebah Garden image by Nick Hubbard, Trebah Garden image by Henry Burrows, House at Trebah Garden image by A. Froese.