Garden Visits‎ > ‎

Reports from 2018

Update 18th December 2018
Unfortunately, today's visit to the Trellissick Garden Illuminations had to be cancelled due to the stormy and wet weather.

Update of 13th October 2018

Unfortunately, today's visit Andrew's Corner and Stone Lanes Gardens had to be cancelled due to the stormy and wet weather.  We will reschedule for next year.

Update of 18th September 2018

Report on Garden Visit of 17th September 2018
Pinetum Gardens, St Austell

Only six members of the group made their way to The Pinetum Gardens on this drizzly Monday.  The weather was dull when we arrived for our visit to these extensive gardens but we had a cheery welcome from an assortment of entertaining ducks and then the owner Chang Li to fire our enthusiasm. 

We hadn't visited since the days when Ray and Shirley Clemo lived there.    It was apparent that Chang greatly admired Shirley, reminding us she planted over six thousand plants and trees and was awarded an MBE for services to horticulture.

By the time we started the visit, the weather had dried up and as there was no wind, it turned out to be a perfect morning for garden visiting. There are six separate gardens each original in style and planting, a deciduous and coniferous arboretum and walks though natural woodland, two ponds and a lake. 

Throughout there are discoveries to be made -  signs with poems and philosophical thoughts, also many sculptures in stone, wood and metal.  Even an old school bell which was heard to ring while we were there!

Chang has also thoughtfully  placed many benches, some under cover or in summerhouses.   There is so much to see here they were much appreciated.

To round off this lovely visit we had a nice lunch in their cafe.   We achieved a first for Lostwithiel U3A with no-one ordering any of their lovely cakes!   Do we get a medal?

Update of 24th August 2018

Report on Garden Visit of 21st August 2018

John Mann's Garden in Higher Truscott

Higher Truscott is a charming hamlet set high on a hill above Launceston. It was here that 16 members of our group gathered to be shown around the garden belonging to John and Gilly Mann.

Developed over a period of over 40 years from the yard and orchard of an old farmhouse, the area to the rear of the house was designed by John who took his inspiration from Trebah Garden and tried to re-create the look of a valley.  What catches your eye first are the rockeries filled with a huge variety of alpine plants; your eyes are then drawn to the narrow lawn area surrounded by shrubs and trees.   The collection of trees and shrubs include different variety of sorbus, a Swedish maple, a Chinese acer, a bush snowdrop.

Gradually the more formal garden morphs into a ‘woodland area’ of Viburnums, Acers, Magnolias including fine M. proctoriana, which in Spring is underplanted with white fritillarias and a large Magnolia stellata which came from the original Treseder’s Nursery in Truro.  There are also numerous hellebores and this would be a great garden to visit again in the Spring.

You cross the lane and you are in the second part of the garden which used to have a swimming pool.  That area has been transformed into a Rill Garden Feature and John’s inspiration came from the Gardens & Grounds of Herstmonceux Castle in Somerset.   This part of the garden includes a productive vegetable garden and we tasted an unusual variety of cucumber called “cucumber crystal lemon” in the shape of a small tennis ball - the taste was very refreshing.   John showed us in one of the greenhouses how he was growing succulents in tufa rock.

What is memorable in this part of the garden is the amazing view that you get from the wooden bandstand:  you first see the old part of Launceston with its old houses nestling around the castle and then you have a 180 degree view of Dartmoor.

All gardeners have faced many challenges this year:  the wet Autumn, Winter and Spring, the two spells of Beast from the East in March and then the very hot and dry Summer.  Despite all those challenges, the garden was an absolute treat with many plants, shrubs and trees in bloom, including: white and pinks cyclamens, flowering a month early; delicate specimens of buddleia and gladiolas which none of us has seen before; Eucryphia; Senecio; Eucomis (Pineapple flower and pineapple lily); Itea; Calycanthus; Campsis; delicate geraniums; many salvias and fuchsias; deep red broad-leaved plantain and dark leaved small sedums.
John Mann loves troughs. We saw:
An old cider trough turned into a pond containing water lilies

  Granite  and concrete troughs filled with alpine plants

Belfast sinks covered in concrete  - you would think they were old troughs.

After tea and biscuits, we left truly inspired by our very knowledgeable hosts who, in their eighties, not only manage this large garden on their own but also keep planning future projects.

Update of 19th July 2018

Report on Garden visit of Friday 13th July 2018

Wildside and The Garden House


Eleven of us spent an absolutely glorious day visiting those two spectacular gardens in Buckland Monachorum.

Morning visit to Wildside

It is not often that I am lost for words when producing a report but I have to say that the visit to Wildside is giving me a challenge:  how to describe adequately the creativity, originality and beauty of this wild garden which amazed us all.  The quote on the Wildside website summarises eloquently what the Wileys aimed to achieve:

On the wild side - an experiment in new naturalism

"Looking at the treasure trove of gardening ideas to be found in nature, from under our noses to far-flung corners of the globe. By allowing our observations of natural landscapes to inform our plantings, I believe that we can loosen the strait-jacket that long-established horticultural practices impose allowing the enormous creative potential, latent within most of us, the freedom to express itself."

Wildside garden and nursery on the edge of Dartmoor was created by Keith Wiley where he lives with his artist wife Ros Wiley.  Keith Wiley was head gardener/manager at The Garden House, a 10-acre garden on the edge of Dartmoor in the southwest of England, between 1978-2003, where he created what has been described by national commentators as 'one of the most exciting and innovative gardens in Britain today' and the best example of 'leading-edge horticulture” in this country.

The garden he has created at Wildside can be loosely described as naturalistic in style but Keith has taken this to whole new level. The garden was originally a flat field but he has transformed the site through extensive landscaping and spectacular planting. The planting was inspired by Keith and Ros' travels around the world and then recreating elements of these wild landscapes in his own garden, from wildflowers in Crete to meadows in South Africa and beyond. In effect he has recreated the natural habitats of plants from all over the world in his own garden which required a huge amount of landscaping, digging deep ravines and valleys and piling up large hills and banks of soil. Then, plants have been given just the right location, aspect, soil type and amount of light or shade. The other benefit of such colossal landscaping has been the variety of viewpoints created, from up high on a steep bank looking down or from the bottom of a ravine looking up. There are so many plants at Wildside and of such variety, it is hard to believe and yet they grow side by side happily as one big community.


Afternoon visit to The Garden House

This garden is entirely funded by the work of a small charity “The Fortescue Garden Trust”.  We had visited the Garden House in September 2017 and had been so impressed by its beauty that we had decided that it would be worth returning to the garden sometime in the summer when the herbaceous borders would be at their best.  We were not disappointed.

This inspirational garden blends seamlessly into a timeless Devon landscape, and offers stunning views in all directions. The eight acre garden is really several gardens in one, using over 6,000 varieties of plants to great effect in both traditional and naturalistic planting styles.

In the summer months, at the heart of this magical place is the walled garden, designed and planted by Lionel Fortescue and his wife Katherine in the mid-1940s.  

Brooding over all is the ruin of the vicarage tower: the vicarage tower was replaced in the 19th century by what is now the Garden House, where the visitors can enjoy morning coffee, light lunches and afternoon teas in a beautiful mansion.  Some of us indulged in both a Garden House lunch and afternoon refreshments!
Click on image above to  launch a slide show with more photos. 
Note:  Slide show may not work with all devices. Same photos available via this flickr page.

There is also an exotic South African Garden, as well as the romantic Cottage Garden and Wild Flower Meadow.   Later, in autumn, a glade of Japanese maples provides a kaleidoscope of autumnal colour.   A new two-acre arboretum has recently been planted to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Fortescue Garden Trust.

Some of us are already planning our next visit to the garden, maybe in January/February to admire their collection of snowdrops: Matt Bishop, the head gardener is considered a world authority on them.


Update 7th June 2018


Report on visit to Anvil Cottage and Windmills of 6th June 2108

We were able to kick the winter wardrobe into touch for this visit and T-shirts, suntan lotion, sunhats and even shorts were the order of the day!

After a mystery tour of the lovely but narrow Cornish lanes and their hedges full of wild spring flowers, seventeen members of the group arrived at their destination in South Hill for a 2.00pm start.  At Anvil Cottage, we were greeted by Geoff Clemerson on his own, as his wife Barbara was having physiotherapy having twisted her leg whilst taking a group round earlier in the week.

Anvil Cottage

One member of the group aptly summarised the garden as “a garden of surprises”.  Anvil Cottage is a plantsman’s garden.  Winding paths take you through a series of themed rooms housing both familiar and unusual plants. We liked so many of the plants, shrubs and trees that we discovered during our visit: 

The garden was full of mauve Primulas Candelabra, white flowering Astrantias and many varieties of very fragrant roses. Some of the rambling roses along with very healthy looking clematis are climbing though shrubs and trees creating a splash of colour where you least expected it. We noticed that some of the bamboos were in bloom and we learned that sadly that means that they are likely to die.  We marvelled at the fact that, despite the garden being so high up, the banana trees and the bougainvillea had survived the “Beast from the East”.

Higher up, a wild flower garden with a profusion of ragged robin leads through a formal rose garden. The rose garden was replanted this year, as many of the rose bushes which looked an absolute picture this time last year had been severely damaged by the winter’s winds.

From the rose garden, you walk to a raised viewpoint with a bench from which you can admire the spectacular views of Caradon Hill and Bodmin Moor.  I am not sure that Geoff and Barbara spend much time sitting on their well-positioned bench watching the sunset and sipping wine!



We did not meet the owners of Windmills as they were away on holiday but they had kindly given us permission to walk round.  Whereas Geoff and Barbara has started their garden from scratch with the use of diggers to clear out a garden that had been neglected for years, their neighbours had inherited a well-established garden.  Their pride and joy is their vegetable plot and rightly so.  Everything looked so healthy and well ahead of any of our own gardens.

We also marvelled at the fact, in both properties, the sweet peas are well established and in bloom, whereas several of us lamented the fact that in our respective gardens, the young plants appear to be on a “go slow” mode!

Barbara came back just in time to help Geoff serve tea and cake.

As we left, there was an opportunity to say goodbye to the fairies who have a meeting place by the gate of Anvil Cottage.

More photographs taken by Lindsay and Marion may be seen by clicking on the image above.

Update 11th May 2018

Report on visit to Moyclare of 9th May 2018

After a scorching hot May Bank Holiday, it was a case of delving back into the winter wardrobe for the 10 members who visited Moyclare in Liskeard, a visit organised by Sue Luttmer.   It was everybody’s first visit to this garden despite it being so close to Lostwithiel and despite its reputation:  it was once the most televised garden in Cornwall.  The owner was very generous with her time and took us for a guided visit of the garden.  We are glad she did, as she was able to point out some of the rare trees and plants it contains and told us about their history.  We would have missed much if we had walked round on our own.

Moira and Louis Reid bought the plot of land.  The garden was planted in 1927 and extended in 1936. Moyclare is now owned by their niece Elizabeth Henslowe and her husband Philip.  This one acre garden is full of mature trees, shrubs and tiny treasures, some from Ireland and some from the Southern Hemisphere, some rare and unusual and some more familiar.   

We learned that about 50% of the plants in the Lanhydrock Garden come from Moyclare.

Every part of the garden has a name e.g.  “Moira’s border, “Quartz Island”, “Tanglewood”, “Spike Island”,  "Torchwood Garden" and storyboards tell the story of the garden through anecdotes of its history, successes and disasters and hopes for the future.

There was so much to take in and I am not sure that the summary below will do it justice!

  • There are 70 camellias in the garden and 100 trees.  Seven of them are have been judged by inspectors from the Tree Register to be “Champion Trees”: five are Cornish champions and two are English champions.

  • Rare and unusual plants include plants named after Moira Reid, some discovered at Moyclare:   a pink broom, a camelia (pale pink single flower) and an astrantia

  • Other rare or unusual plants and trees that were pointed out to us included:

    • Giant Lilly of the Valley from County Clare, Ireland

    • A King Fern which grows to 10 feet which had been dug up in Ireland

    • Two Podocarpus trees from Chile

    • A Trochodendrum Aralioides from Taiwan

    • A Pittosporum Anamalum from New Zealand

    • A Camelia C Tricolor

    • A border clematis

    • A gravel path covered with shamrock

    • A Kiwi fruit tree (the fruit are small and sweet and fed to the blackbirds!)

    • A variegated myrtle

    • A variegated sweet chestnut tree

    • Deep shade loving flowering plants:  Stylophorum Diphyllum (also known as celandine poppy) and Maianthemum (white flowers)

And of course, we finished our visit with refreshments.  A cup of tea was most welcome at the end of our one and a half hour tour: the weather had stayed dry and we were all getting rather cold.  Roll on Summer!

Update 23rd April 2018

Report on visit to Lanhydrock of Thursday 19th April 2018

Spring, or even Summer had arrived for the Garden Visits Group Guided Estate Tour, of just a small part of Lanhydrock.

It was in 1953 that the National Trust purchased the 200 acre estate and our first point of interest was the outdoor swimming pool, situated only a few minutes walk from the domed reception, and used in the Victorian era by the Gentry of the House.  Despite the glorious weather, sadly no one was tempted to take a dip in the murky water!

Our guide Chris, had a wealth of knowledge - told us about the 13 varieties of Bats on the Estate, the 184 types of lichen and took us along to see the 600 yrs old Oak Tree - there was a much younger Oak close by - a mere 400 yrs old.

The wild flowers were just stunning and a few early bluebells were spotted by some observant members. We also found a tiny pale yellow wild flower with a clover type leaf which no one was able to identify - anyone out there able to help?

Click on image above for larger view

Our tour ended with all twelve members sitting outside the Stable Cafe, enjoying tea and cakes.

Click on image above to  launch a slide show with more photos. 
Note:  Slide show may not work with all devices. Same photos available via this flickr page.

Photo Credit: All photos by Lindsay Southgate


Report on visit of Tuesday 20th March 2018 to Ince Castle

Nineteen U3 members joined by twelve members of the Whitecross  and District Gardening Club made their way to Ince near Saltash on the first day of Spring.  As we drove into the property, we were greeted by a profusion of primroses and daffodils that grow either side of the long drive

Lady Boyd greeted us and gave us an introductory talk about the garden.   Her mother-in-law, Patricia, Viscountess Boyd née Guiness bought Ince Castle in 1960.  The present garden is almost entirely the design of Patricia, Lady Boyd, who was a very keen plantswoman and a vice president of the Cornwall Garden Society.   She made the formal garden on the south side of the house soon after moving there and the shell house was built in 1963.   Since moving to the house in 1994, the present Lord Boyd and his wife have flattened the lawn to the east of the house to improve the view of the river from the ground floor room and placed at the entrance of the forecourt the stone lions which were made to go on the Admiralty at the end of the Mall in London.  They also build the conservatory and the tennis court and removed the tarmac from the entrance front.

The snow that had fallen at the week-end had melted away but as that had been the second blast of the “Beast from the East” in three weeks, we knew that the garden might not be in its best condition.  Of course some of the camelia flowers had been damaged by the frost but the garden was as delightful as it was last year when two members of the group visited for the first time.  We were each provided with a map and this ensured that we did not miss any of the many features of the garden.  In the spring, the areas of the garden at their best are the snowdrop wood (snowdrops and cyclamens), the woodland garden (camellias and later on bluebells) and the spinney (daffodils, primroses, wood anemones, hyacinths and hellebores).   We were particularly impressed by the hellebores which grow on a wall in the spinney. 

In all seasons, a visit to the shell house and to the Bathing Pool by the river Lynher is a must.  Spend some time on the seat at the top at the Bowling  Green as it gives you a good view towards the river.  This is one of the things that make Ince Castle such a special garden to visit:  the views of the river Lynher and of the Devon countryside as far as Dartmoor.

Click on image above for enlarged view

We enjoyed our customary tea and cake at the end of the visit with Lady Boyd available to answer any of our questions.  Sadly Ince Castle came on the market that very day.  If the new owners do not open the garden to the public as part of charities days or to groups like ours, we will be one of the last groups ever to visit the gardens.  What luck!

Click on image above to  launch a slide show with more photos. 

Note:  Slide show may not work with all devices. Same photos available via this flickr page.
Photo Credit: All photos by Lindsay Southgate


13th February 2018 update

We had a very fruitful planning meeting on Tuesday 23rd January (and a very pleasant lunch) and I take this opportunity to thank the 21 members of our group who met to produce a very detailed third draft of our 2018 programme of visits.  I also thank those members who did much research prior to our meeting.  I e-mailed/sent all members a document which I have put together following our meeting.  It contains much information and this will hopefully enable everybody to make informed decisions as to which gardens they would like to visit.  I have updated the grid below but I have not included all the details, as it would have looked too cumbersome.  Do not hesitate to contact me or the visit organisers for fuller details.


    Visit to Pencarrow House on Sunday 11th February

Nine hardy members of the Garden Visits Group met at Pencarrow House on Sunday afternoon on February 11th to visit the gardens and in particular, to see the snowdrops on the first of 'The Pencarrow Snowdrop Sundays', when the gardens are open to show the snowdrops at their best and the entrance is by donation for a particular charity. It was in aid of the dog charity Last Chance Hotel on the 11th and next week, February 18th it will be for Blood Bikes, who carry vital supplies of blood where it's needed in an emergency.

We arrived in glorious sunshine, which continued for most of the afternoon apart from a sudden shower of hail which took us all by surprise. Despite the sun it was very cold and in places quite windy, but that did not dampen our enthusiasm.

Click on image above for larger view

The car park and house are at the bottom of a drive approx 1 mile long. Once parked you walk upwards towards the house, with parkland to the left and woods to the right of the drive. We were given a plan of the gardens with the areas of snowdrop planting highlighted. There are paths throughout and snowdrops could be seen from them but there were lots of clumps  around the base of trees and scatterings around the grass which merited a closer look. We followed the path to the top of the lake, noticing signs of Spring on the foliage of trees. There was a Salix with beautiful furry buds just appearing, which emphasised the name Pussy Willow by which most of us know it. There were also camellias in various stages of flowering, some still with tight buds, others in full flower. We had to retrace our steps as the path going back around the lake was rather steep and muddy. We cut across into the Italian garden in front of the house which has a beautiful circular lawn with a wide gravel path and planted with spring bulbs in flower beds at the side. We followed the path where we saw crocuses and narcissi along with more snowdrops. There was an area in the woods highlighted on the plan with more snowdrops but we were just too cold to go further, so sought out the tea room and had a warming drink.