Garden Visits

Contact:- Annie Singer 
Phone: 01208 871272 
Email:   annie.singer
 "AT" talk21"DOT"com

Planning Meeting

We will meet on Monday 11th November 2019 at 10.30am in the Royal Oak Inn, Lostwithiel in order to start planning our 2020 programme.  Please come along with all your ideas.

2019 reports



Four members ignored the weather forecast and decided to take part in this visit which has been planned to take place last year but had had to be cancelled due to heavy rain and strong winds. Plus ca change...

Andrews Corner is a wonderful garden situated on North Dartmoor, owned by Robin and Edwina Hill who have lived there for over 40 years. Edwina baked some delicious homemade biscuits and Robin gave us a tour of the garden.  He is a licensed dormouse handler and has boxes dotted around the garden, including 50 boxes situated in the valley which form part of a dormice project.

The garden is planted with many rare species, including acers, both small and mature varieties. There are Japanese maple and birch trees and an unusual hydrangea which has chocolate coloured leaves.  Andrews Corner is divided into three levels, the taller trees protecting more vulnerable species from the weather.  The garden slopes down to the bottom with a breathtaking view of Dartmoor showing a steep climb up to Cosdon Hill, and the River Taw runs along the valley.  During our visit it did rain heavily but finally the sun came out and we enjoyed the views across the Moor.

We returned to Belstone Village for lunch at the Tors Inn and again enjoyed stunning views of North Dartmoor.

Stone Lane Garden was our next stop, about 6 miles on the Chagford Road, located down a very narrow lane - luckily we didn't meet a tractor! We parked in a field at the top and followed the path down through mature alder and birch trees.  A kind volunteer met us and we were left to explore the 5 acre woodland and water garden.  Kenneth and June Ashburner created this intriguing space in the early 1970s.  He planted the trees from seeds he had grown gathered on his travels.  In 1992 June decided that the garden would be an ideal place for an exhibition of open air sculptures and 'The Mythic Garden' was born.


31ST AUGUST 2019

Click on above image for larger view

On our outing westwards we were joined by some members of our u3a photography group.
Travelling in several cars,  our spirits were dampened by heavy rainfall, but by the time we reached Hayle for a quick coffee stop the rain had also stopped and a sunny day ensued.

We reached Penberth gardens just after 11am and met the nursery manager whom we had previously spoken to at Tregrahan Rare Plant Fair earlier this year.  He advised a route through the garden which entailed a climb up the steep side of this sheltered valley on rocky paths.

We saw many unusual trees and plants associated with a warmer climate, the sky now nearly as bright as the agapanthus!

We then followed a gentle path alongside a stream until we came to  pretty cottages and the sea at Penberth Cove - and some keen photographers at work!  There is a massive capstan here, a large stone slipway and stepping stones over the river, very appealing so not surprising that parts of the recent Poldark television drama was filmed here.  However, all 11 members of the group were disappointed that Aiden Turner did not make an appearance!

Click on above image for larger view

So next, inevitably, round the corner for a rest and super lunch at The Logan Rock, Treen.

Turning towards home our next venue was at Longrock, the National Dahlia Collection at Varfell Farm.   A total contrast here, an open field of vivid colour.   Hundreds of named varieties, some pastels but mostly vibrant contrasts competing for attention, but not an earwig in sight!   We saw many different forms of flowers, some dual colours and plants of varied size - something to suit any garden.   There was even a large shrub, Dahlia Imperialis.

24 Photos from our visit to the National Dahlia Collection are available on flickr. Click here or on image above.

Although our own gardens don't resemble either of these venues,  we had learnt a lot and once again came home inspired.



Click on image above for larger view

In August, we always visit a garden not too far away from Lostwithiel as we do not want to fight our way through the holiday traffic.  This year, we visited Gardens Cottage, a new garden in the making in Prideaux which opened for the NGS for the first time last year and Annie had recommended.  A big THANK YOU to Janet Dutton which did the research for this visit early in the year when she was still in good health.  The nine members who put their faith in an optimistic weather forecast were rewarded with a visit to a very pretty garden which we were able to explore under lovely sunshine.

When the owners, Sue and Roger, arrived at the end of 2014, the land was a mixture of mown meadow and rough woodland.   Their vision was to create a country garden which is sympathetic to its surrounding landscape, has year-round interest, lots of colour and simply feels good to be in.    They have certainly achieved all this.  When we were having afternoon tea at the end of the day by the terraces and rockery, none of us wanted to leave and we could have stayed for supper, had this been on offer!

This garden looks much older than it is, thanks to its mature trees and the beautiful red brick wall which separates it from Prideaux House.  In this wall, you can see a gate which is the shortcut that the gardener who lived in the property used to take to get to his job at “the big house”.

As soon as we walked into the garden, we saw the most recent additions to the garden:  the dry-stone music sculpture, complete with a treble clef as well as a peace cairn built by Roger, an idea copied from Pinsla garden.

There are many areas to explore in this beautiful garden and this is what we did in pairs and groups:

  • The terraces and rockery which Sue, who is an acupuncturist, tackled first in 2005 because her treatment room looks onto this area.  Beth Chatto’s works on dry and gravel gardens were an invaluable source of inspiration and ideas to her.

  • The winter garden with 12 lovely birch trees

  • Fred Garden’s and the Spring Garden.  Fred was Sue’s dad and he taught her how to garden and continued to do so until he was very nearly 102.

  • The formal gardens with its hornbeam hedging which was planted just 2 years ago

  • The long borders and the “hot beds”.  The most mature of the borders is now entering its fifth summer whilst the smaller one was planted in 2017.  We noted all the varieties of dahlias – Roger loves them!

  • The wildlife pond which is complemented by a lovely slate feature which makes the most of the view down to St Austell Bay

  • The orchard and fruit garden, a bee area and a hotch pot which is a home to pants which have been rescued or are being trialled or are surplus to requirement or are just to a treat for the bees.

  • A woodland area which hosts the beautiful Gladys, a gipsy caravan named after Sue’s Mum.

  • A courtyard garden, a productive kitchen garden as well as a polytunnel and a greenhouse.

Click on above image to see slideshow of our visit
(All photos are also available via flickr )



Thirteen members of the group made their way to Ken Caro for a visit organised by Gill Forster and Carol Baker - a big THANK YOU to them both.

Ken Caro, near St Ive, Liskeard, is a connoisseurs' 10- acre garden full of interest all year round.  There are lily ponds, panoramic views (see our group photos) , plenty of seating, picnic area etc.  In July, the vast collection of day lilies are in full bloom.  There is also a woodland walk which has one of the largest beech trees.  There is a good collection of yellow magnolias, herbaceous plants as well as a large collection of hydrangeas.

Mr Willcock gave us an introductory talk before we set off in pairs and groups around the garden.  Mrs Willcock made tea which we had in the summer house to accompany the cakes and sandwiches generously provided by Gill Forster.

It was an enjoyable afternoon spent in a garden which is not far from Lostwithiel but which so few of us
had been to before.


Five of us set off from Lostwithiel in light rain and arrived at Trebah in glorious sunshine so raincoats etc were soon discarded. When we had met Malcolm,  we set off to explore this wonderful garden.

 Our route took us down past the amphitheatre to the beach where an ice cream had to be eaten.


The Hydrangea Valley was just coming into flower so will look even better in the next few weeks. Everything was superb and the gunnera, Jenny’s pet hate, were enormous. I include the metal gunnera sculpture just for her!

The layout and planting are excellent with a stream winding down the valley. Of course,  the cafe was sampled for lunch and all pronounced it very good.

Another visit at a different time of year would be most welcome.


Five members met at Tregrehan for the Rare Plant Fair which included stands by local nurseries Proper Plants and Hidden Valley.  It was well set out with a wide selection of plants and lots of information for gardeners.  Penberth were there with a good range and we look forward to our trip to their West Cornwall gardens in September.  

Three of us continued on an exploration of Tregrehan's own garden and 50mt long greenhouses, also enjoying the woodland walks with most of the trees ( some over 150yrs old ) having name labels. A number of them having the honour of being listed as Champion Trees on the 'Tree Register' at Kew.  We also came across  the grave-stones of two of the Carlyon family in the woods.

We rounded off our visit with - you guessed! - delicious home made cakes and tea.




Eight members had signed up for this visit but in the end only five were able to take part in it.  It is really a shame that not more members were involved as the woodland gardens are stunning.

Trebartha in the hamlet of Trebartha just outside North Hill appears in the 1086 Domesday Book.  The property was purchased in 1941 by the current owners, the Latham Family.  The garden was open on 12th May for the National Garden Scheme.

The name is derived from two old Cornish words: “Tre” - house or homestead and “Bartha” – stream or fountain.  It is easy to see why:  a stretch of the river Lynher known as the Ladies Mile flows through the property.

The whole walk through the woodland gardens takes a good two hours as there is much to see:

  • The Swan Pool which dates from 1900 with a boathouse and a Tinner’s Stone

  • The Turbine House for the Trebarthan Hydro Project

  • The American Gardens planted in 1820 including North American trees as Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar, Californian Sequoias, Cypress etc

  • A steep, rocky path from which follows the Withy Brook as it flows down towards the river Lynher through a series of impressive waterfalls

  • The Terraces full of bluebells and rhododendrons in full bloom and from where you have amazing views of the parkland, the Lyhner valley with the tower of North Hill Church in the distance

  • The gardens of Lemarne, an 18th century Cottage where the estate gamekeeper used to live.  The gardens are modern having been created since 2008 by Moir Latham.

  • A walk though a sunken lane first to Lemarne and then to the Fish Ponds

  • The Fish Ponds – the area was mined  for tin in the 17th and 18th Century.  Some gold was found – sufficient to make a ring.  The three Fish Ponds were created in the 18th Century and only the lower one has had its silt removed.  As we walked on the path around the outside of the three ponds, we saw a profusion of bluebells and more rhododendrons in bloom

  • The ornamental walled garden – in the 19th century there were nine glass houses with exotic fruit.  Now there is only one.


We finished a most enjoyable visit with tea and cake.

17 photos of the gardens available in this Flickr Album


Sunday 14th April 2019

Twelve members of the group met up at the Community Centre Car park at 9.00am to travel to Tregothnan by the Lerryn Area minibus.  It was a cold, overcast and blustery April morning and we had had to wrap very warmly, retrieving from our respective wardrobes clothes that we had put away until next winter!
Click on above image for larger view

Tregothnan, home to the same family since 1334, has the largest historic garden in Cornwall. Although not open to the public you may, with prior appointment, visit this amazing garden.  However, the cost is £65 per person.  Fortunately, Tregothnan opens its doors once a year for a Charity Week-End at a more affordable cost of £10.  The gardens boast ancient Camellias, mountainous Magnolias and the biggest Rhododendrons in the world.  It is an official safe site for the keeping of rare or endangered trees from all over the world, holding some Red Book endangered trees which are larger than any remaining in the wild.  Millais wrote in 1924 that Tregothnan was probably the premier garden in the UK and growing species otherwise only found on the Scillies.  It is home to the Wollemi Pine- a prehistoric species through to be extinct until 1944 when it was discovered in a remote Australian Valley.  A prized specimen now grows in the garden overlooking the Southern Hemisphere Collection.

There is much of interest to see in the garden:

  • A Wardian Case – a replica of the world’s only travelling greenhouse, designed for safely shipping plant species and which was discovered at Tregothnan in a locked shed

  • An Edwardian Summer House
  • Manuka trees introduced in 1880s, responsible for the Tregothnan unique Manuka tea and the only honey of its kind outside its native New Zealand.

  • A Camelia Maze, the largest in the world which we enjoyed walking into and succeed in getting out of!

  • A line avenue with a carpet of bluebells in bloom between the two rows of trees

  • A South American Garden- although the wooden walkway was closed to the public and we had to admire it form the distance

  • A tea garden which was fascinating to look at from different angles

  • A bowling green – not a patch though on the green at the Lostwithiel Bowling Club!

There are several viewpoints at the edge of the garden and several seats with beautiful vistas but today was not the day to stop moving for very long.  We enjoyed our refreshments in the courtyard but after three hours we were ready to leave as the weather had not warmed up.

It was the first visit Tregothnan for all but one member and despite the disappointing weather, the visit was enjoyed by everybody.
Click on image above to see slide-show

If you have difficulty in viewing slide show then pictures may be viewed in this flick album



    MONDAY 25TH MARCH 2019

    Fourteen of us met up at Bodmin Nurseries for a one-hour guided tour by owner Mark.

    The nursery stand on the site of the Laveddon Mill, a water mill dating from the 17th Century.  The remaining building is Grade ii listed.  Although the mill was part of the Lansallos Estate, it was autonomous.   It was a gristmill producing animal feed and there were other industries on the site (sawmill etc.).  Milling took place until the early 1920s. In the 60s-70s, the site had become a hub for people growing and selling vegetables.  There has a been a plant nursery on the site for 50 years and Linda and Mark have been running it for 19 years. 

    This nursery is 90% self-sustained, employs 44 people, including the staff in the café which opened 6 years ago and continues to expand.  The nursery has its own water supply which is rich in nutrients, thus reducing the need to use fertilisers, and it generates 60% of the electricity it uses.

    Mark’s passion and vision for his work was very much in evidence throughout the talk.  He is proud of his reputation as a grower.  His moto is “knowledgeable staff” and “fresh plants”.  We spent some time in one of the greenhouses and Mark explained how they operate as robots.  He also gave an overview of the conditions which underpin a successful process from sowing seeds to hardening plants (right temperature including temperature difference between the root of the plant and the ambient temperature, use of good bacteria, appropriate watering etc)

    Here are some of the facts and figures that we learnt:

    • If less than 98% of the seeds purchased by the nursery do not germinate, the seller does not get paid

    • 15% of the nursery’s turnover are vegetables plants (200 varieties) whilst 12-15% are bedding plants

    • They sell 4.500 varieties of perennials and 500 varieties of shrubs

    • 60% of the compost they use is peat-free

    • They grow shrubs and trees off-site, including the recently planted 10,000 Christmas trees which should be ready in 2027!

    The nursery charged £30 for the whole group and the money will be donated to the Bodmin Hospital.

    We had our customary refreshments in the Mill Cafe after the guided tour and, as the weather was so glorious, we sat on the patio area.  There was also time to do some shopping.  We look forward to our next visit to the Nurseries which will have a specific focus.  It could be a focus on composting or on making hanging baskets.  We will decide at our October planning meeting.






    The group had already visited this local garden two years ago in the summer, but we had selected it again as our snowdrops garden to kick start our 2019 programme of visits.  It was a disappointing start:  five members had signed up for this visit but in the end only three of us turned up at the Lostwithiel Community Centre car park to travel to the garden.  What a shame as the visit turned out to be an absolute treat with so many different varieties of snowdrops still in bloom.  We were also blessed with lovely sunny weather.

    Nationally there are about 2000 different varieties of snowdrops and Tricia has 150 of them in her garden.  Tricia had just come back from a snowdrops fair in Somerset where she had purchased more varieties of snowdrops and, as they were still in their pots on a table, we were able to examine each in detail, observing their individual features.  We looked through the Avon Bulbs catalogue recommended by Tricia (other catalogues are available!) and were surprised to see the price reached by the snowdrop bulbs: up to £120 per bulb!  However, we were informed that bulbs can fetch as much as £750.

    Tricia then gave us a guided tour of her garden when we saw her beautiful snowdrops blooming in flower beds, under trees and in the fernery. 

    Here are some facts about snowdrops:

    • Their botanical name is Galanthus

    • Galanthophiles is the name given to snowdrops experts/collectors

    • Galanthus nivalis is the best-known and most widespread representative of the genus Galanthus. It is native to a large area of Europe, stretching from the Pyrenees in the west, through France and Germany to Poland in the north, Italy, northern Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and European Turkey.  Although it is often thought of as a British native wild flower, or to have been brought to the British Isles by the Romans, it was probably introduced around the early 16th century and is currently not a protected species in the UK.

    • Snowdrops generally have three outer and three inner segments (what we would call petals), but some varieties have five or six of each which makes them rather special in my mind

    • Trumps - In galantho-speak, this is an “inverse poculiform”, where the outer segments have taken on the shape and markings of the inner segments.

    • All snowdrops prefer cool, moist conditions in the spring and a surprisingly dry summer dormancy in the shade

    A good time to split them is after they have flowered and they start dying back.  This method is often used for snowdrops (Galanthus) and snowflakes (Leucojum) as they do not re-establish well when planted as dry bulbs:

    • Lift the bulbs with their leaves on when the soil is moist, using a border or hand fork

    • Carefully tease the clumps of bulbs apart by hand, trying to avoid damaging the roots

    • Ideally, replant singly, spacing them at least two bulb widths’ apart

    • Where large clumps include small seedlings, replant the bulbs in small clusters

    • Plant to the same depth as before, indicated by a change in stem colour from green to white

    • Water in thoroughly to settle the roots

  • So, which were my favourite snowdrops?  It is difficult to say as they are all so interesting but here are my top three:

    • Galanthus Franz Josef:  a neat and handsome double form of Galanthus elwesi with attractive inner markings and green tipped outers
    • Galanthus Madelaine:  a single snowdrop with bold yellow markings on the inner segments which seemed to glow in the low February sunshine
    • Galanthus Robin Hood: a tall upright and narrow snowdrop in all its parts with a nicely marked flower held on a short pedicel. I liked the distinct inner marking heavily shaded green, broad open and scissor like

    We bought snowdrop bulbs (the highest price was £10), gave Tricia a donation for the charity MIND and drove back to Lostwithiel where we stopped at the Q café for afternoon tea/coffee and cake.