Inside the Hidden Valley Garden Louise Danks discovers an amazing array of plants

PUBLISHED: 13:48 16 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:05 20 February 2013

Tricia Howard, gardener and creator of Hidden Valley Gardens

Tricia Howard, gardener and creator of Hidden Valley Gardens

In the 12 years since Tricia and Peter moved from their cold, dry garden in York to the warm and wet former small holding that is now Hidden Valley Garden they have made quite a mark on the three and a half acre spot not far from Tywardreath.

A study in colour


Inside the Hidden Valley Garden Louise Danks discovers an amazing array of plants

In the 12 years since Tricia and Peter moved from their cold, dry garden in York to the warm and wet former small holding that is now Hidden Valley Garden they have made quite a mark on the three and a half acre spot not far from Tywardreath.
Having grown up in a garden environment Tricia recalls enjoyable visits to the allotment and greenhouse with her father and, having always liked plants a horticultural retirement project seemed the ideal venture.
Bringing with them over 1,000 plants, a greenhouse and a shed Tricia and Peter saw the potential here and over time have created a garden, nursery, tearoom and B&B business. Improving the drainage, implementing the design along with the heavy work of soil moving not to mention the eradication of the brambles, goat willow and bindweed that had made their home at what was to become Hidden Valley Garden were among the first large tasks undertaken.
Hedges were planted and borders laid out in what has resulted in a beautiful experience. Alphabetised beds provide a straight forward tour of the garden, accompanied by the garden guide visitors are treated to explanations and anecdotes at every turn. The Tea Hut has a potted photographical history of how the garden came to be. It is fascinating to see how Tricia and Peter developed this garden into a space that feels mature beyond its years. What stands now is a multi-coloured triumph.
With a strong cottage garden feel predominantly planted with herbaceous perennials, high hedges divide the space in to rooms; bite-sized areas that are easy to digest and a delicious inspiration to visitors.
From the nursery, entering the garden through a narrow entrance creates drama, further heightened by being presented with the Hot Border around the first corner in all of its glowing glory. Crocosmia Lucifer, heleniums, dahlias and kniphofias with their fiery hues are all thats needed to create this powerful effect. Bronze fennel and purple-leaved hazel all play their part albeit with a more foliar approach.
A change in temperature with a cooler palette of colours leading away from The Hot Border and past the Oval Bed and Pondside Planting. Over a pretty bridge and the eastern mystery of the Japanese Area is another gear change, it is cooler here and shadier; a time for reflection. The cool greens of the Fernery help to continue this feeling of calm towards the Bee and Butterfly Bed - a nectar-filled island where Tricia creates valuable habitats by growing plants to attract pollinating insects and wildlife. Surrounded by mown-grass paths through the longer flowering grasses proving that wildlife gardening can be stylish.
Continue the tour past the well-stocked timber-framed greenhouse nestling behind fruit trees and cane fruit not forgetting to take in the Iris Beds and the Iris Fairy well. The Square beds are a quartet of smaller beds with a good view of the rest of the garden planted with blues and whites where stocky topiary pyramids create a permanent evergreen rhythm to this scheme.
Tucked away at the top of the garden is the pretty Potager complete with vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. On to the Spring Garden and stop a while inside the gazebo a perfect vantage point from which to view not only The Spring Garden but the whole of Hidden Valley Gardens.
Approaching the Tea Hut from the back now, a different feel altogether a prairie themed border where grasses dominate and late season perennials add a sprinkling of colour.
In order to create the desired effect in the borders, annuals mix readily with perennials. This makes it harder work as the beds have to be weeded by hand in order to leave the self-seeded annuals where we want them says Tricia you cant just get stuck in with the hoe
Dahlias, crocosmia and agapanthus feature strongly in the garden being some of Tricias favourites, they contribute to the important late season colour and help to make the transition between summer and autumn a rich spectacle, taking the heat out of the days and lengthening the shadows with colourful imagination.
During October, Tricia can be found saving seed, taking cuttings and dividing perennials to restock the nursery and to use throughout the garden. Shell also be having a last tidy before the winter sets in as the underlying soil here is clay and getting on the beds when theyre wet is kept to an absolute minimum.
If nothing else, visitors to Hidden Valley Garden at this time of the year will take home late-season motivation. Going through into autumn the colour here is kaleidoscopic and ideas for the garden during what is often considered a difficult season for interest are always well received. The very fact that each of the different areas within this garden are so convincing is tantamount to Tricias devotion and dedication. n

Hidden Valley Garden
Open Thursday - Monday 10am 6pm
Treesmill, Nr Par, Cornwall, PL24 2TU
Tel. 01208 873225
Email: hiddenvalleygardens@yahoo.co.uk
hiddenvalleygardens.co.uk

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