These mysterious wooded pits, linked by a maze of winding, narrow paths, are the remains of ancient tin workings at Trewidden. Traditionally in Cornwall, mining excavations like these are usually known as burrows. Angular pieces of ‘mine stone’ or spoil can be seen on the banks & paths. Tree Ferns have established themselves in the garden here, spreading from the nearby Tree Fern Pit. A secluded, mossy rock garden with a pool is situated in one of the larger pits.
The most unusual feature in the pond at Trewidden is a whale’s tail, a christening present to Alverne Bolitho’s eldest son Thomas from his godfather. Originally it rocked and spouted a water jet but it is static now.
The area has an oriental ‘feel’, set off by a Japanese lantern on the island, which was a present to Alverne Bolitho from his mother, Elizabeth. You may spot one of the grass carp, introduced to the pond to control the duckweed; they appear to be doing their job!
This was formed in World War II when a series of parachute bombs exploded in the area. A sycamore tree close by shows damage caused by the bomb & several tree ferns can be seen growing high up above the crater,
The south facing site was well chosen by its Victorian designers and was a productive kitchen garden until the early 1970s when it became part of the old ‘Trewidden Nursery’ which specialised in camellias & rare shrubs.
Restoration started in 2005 and continues, with the aim of providing summer scent and colour and an exotic feel. A ‘butterfly border’ has been planted along the east wall and a sun terrace is being developed on the old greenhouse foundations, part-funded by the Cornwall Gardens Development Project.
Also in the garden are examples of huge old metal bowls, used by the Bolitho family in their tin-smelting business and two old ‘Curate’s Vineyards’. These small structures were used to grow and ripen grapes in Victorian and Edwardian times and we are hoping to renovate them soon.
Butia capitata (Jelly Palm)
This extraordinary old specimen of the South American palm is probably around 100 years old, is recorded as a ‘Champion Tree’ and may be the largest in the UK. Despite suffering badly from old age and rotting in the damp climate of the garden, this tree produces many flowers each year.See current plants of interest...
Tree Fern Pit
This large hollow is evidence of some of the earliest tin workings in Cornwall.
The mine and the surrounding hummocky landscape (The Burrows), was known as Trewidden Bal. Unusual flat beds of tin were worked to some depth and it is thought that mining started in Roman Times.
Today the pit is home to one of the largest groups of Dicksonia antarctica (Australian Tree Fern), in the Northern Hemisphere; they were some of the first to be introduced into Britain, brought to Cornwall by Treseders Nurseries over 100 years ago.
The tree ferns roots make up the exposed part of the ‘trunk’ and when they fall over you can see how they re-root themselves and carry on growing upright again. Clouds of brown spores are produced by the Tree Ferns and many seedlings grow all over the Garden.
The rusty-looking ironwork holding up the banks of the pit are ‘recycled’ railway tracks, probably once used locally in one of the Bolithos’ mines or smelting houses.See current plants of interest...
This tree is amongst the first of this species to be introduced to Britain shortly after the Second World War. Until 1941, when one of these trees was found growing in China, the plant was only known as a fossil and its discovery made sensational news.See current plants of interest...
Magnolia x veitchii 'Peter Veitch' & Magnolia sargentiana
This enormous old tree near the pond is another ‘Champion Tree’. The largest in Britain, it is one of the original specimens that were bred at Veitch’s Nursery at Exeter.
Several other Magnolias are to be found close by; Magnolia sargentiana (the prayer flag tree) is most impressive in early spring.
There is always something colourful flowering here throughout the spring.
The beautiful old Magnolia hypoleuca (Japanese big-leaved magnolia) dominates the area in all seasons but is at its best when in bloom in late spring. It is a ‘Champion tree’, the largest of its species in Britain and is thought to have been planted in 1897 by Mary Williams (Bolitho) as a small child. It first flowered at Trewidden in 1911 and is under-planted with double white wood anemones, snowdrops, dwarf narcissus & primroses flowering in succession through spring, finishing with a wonderful carpet of bluebells.
Other plants to look out for are the wonderfully scented Rhododendron fragrantissimum at the east end, the very showy, red Rhododendron ‘Elizabeth’, Pieris ‘Jermyns’ & some unusual species Camellias; taliensis, tsai & assamica. Most of the tea drunk in Britain is made from Camellia assamica! At the west end there is an old red telephone box that arrived at this location in 1992. Nearby, a group of Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’ were planted on the first day of the 2007 season, Valentine’s Day!
An interesting selection of plants is available for sale by the entrance to Trewidden Garden, grown either in the garden or in one of a few local nurseries. Prices are very competitive!More info...
South Garden & Small South Garden
The South Garden was once Trewidden's orchard & one apple tree remains as a reminder. Many camellias were later planted here which were used as stock plants by the old Trewidden Nursery. Several good magnolias can be seen in flower here in early spring including 'Champion Tree' Magnolia 'Trewidden Belle' with early, large, magenta flowers. Fine specimens of Magnolia dawsoniana & Magnolia campbellii subsp, mollicomata are also to be found here.
A new path was opened as a link to the Small South Garden when a stone hedge was expertly restored by Willow Jilbert, a Trewidden craftsman, allowing further access to garden visitors. Amongst the plants here are the dark Magnolia campbellii ‘Lanarth Seedling’, an old specimen of the rare Rhododendron arboreum subsp. zeylanicum with deeply fissured bark and an unusual evergreen shrub, Illicium anisatum & many showy camellias.
Western Plantation & Camellia Garden
This is part of a massive collection of over 300 camellia varieties at Trewidden. They thrive in our mild, wet climate and acid soil.
The collection was formed by plantswoman and former owner, Mary Williams and was much added to by ex-Head Gardener Michael Snellgrove who propagated many more. Mary (nee Bolitho) married Charles Williams of Caerhays so many plants such as Camellia x williamsii hybrids, bred by the famous Williams family were brought to Trewidden. Originally many of them were closely planted in stock beds but today they have grown and, with a little pruning, have created an unplanned and attractive maze to explore.
Large, old specimens of C. ’Cornish Snow’, the stripey flowered ‘Contessa Lavinia Maggii’ and tea plant – Camellia sinensis thea –are amongst those found here.