CORNWALL'S SECRET GARDENS

PUBLISHED: 17:11 05 November 2014 | UPDATED: 13:07 30 August 2017

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Our mild autumn and winter means our favourite gardens are rarely barren and those with green fingers can produce year-round colour and interest

Cornwall has no shortage of gorgeous gardens. Here our gardening writer LOUISE DANKS shares some of her favourites...

Gone is the rush of spring, the sprint to the finish line for camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons, and the perennials and grasses of summer and beyond under a touch of dappled - in less of a rush to reach their peak and keen to extend their time in the spotlight as far into autumn as they can.

Reacquaint yourselves with the verdant beauty of Cornish gardens.

Our mild autumn and winter means our favourite gardens are rarely barren and those with green fingers can produce year-round colour and interest. Many gardens remain open to visitors well into the autumn and those who aren't are worth the wait.

Homestead Woodland Garden, Wendron

Three acres of divided gardens giving all-year round interest and three acres of wildlife habitat and deciduous woodland with primroses in spring. Cornish variety apple orchard where chickens, ducks and geese roam free. Vegetable and cutting garden, mature garden with pond and mixed borders. Archways, pergolas, seating, water features, hot and shady areas, walled garden, Japanese area. Sculptures are sited throughout.

Off the Helston to Redruth road is a three-acre tranquil haven of a garden divided into cleverly designed, authentically planted areas each as different and convincing as the one before.

A Moroccan courtyard with modern terracotta planters, a hot border, a shaded Japanese garden tucked away and then the garden opens out to reveal a large pond beautifully planted and surrounded by mature island beds. A summer house and convincing sculpture and garden art adorn the space.

Visitors don't need a similar sized garden to take inspiration from The Homestead Woodland Garden as there are touches of class throughout this lovingly developed garden.

Carminowe Valley Garden, Gunwalloe

Gunwalloe, near Helston is where Carminowe Valley Garden is found. This garden is crammed full of fabulous ideas, brilliantly executed to the highest of horticultural standards. The courtyard at the front of this beautiful cottage boasts a formal parterre of box and roses underplanted with seasonal colour and clipped box hedges. The walls are clothed in roses, Marion's inspired choices are peppered throughout and contrast elegantly with foliage.

Great ideas for front gardens can be taken from this part of Carminowe Valley Garden alone.

Mixed island beds, each with a carefully crafted personality of its own that sparkles with originality line the generous grass paths. Why not use softfruit in an ornamental border? Here blueberries, tayberries, goji, Japanese wineberries and blackberries and a kiwi in a soft-fruit walk complete with roses and beautifully hand-crafted chunky trellis work. The effect is very pretty; it is a an interesting way to incorporate fruit in a mixed border and just goes to show that you don't need to give an entire area of your garden over to growing tasty berries.

A veritable florist shop's worth of blooms abound in the nearby Cutting Garden blowsy and full of colour - agapanthus, dahlias, alstroemeria, tulips, Alchemilla mollis and lavender are some of the flowers home-grown and cut for the house. Wildlife is another priority in this garden, two nectar bord=

ers encourage bees and butterflies, their favourites being pulmonaria, sedum, hemerocallis, phlox, buddleja, bergenia and a monster cardoon all on the menu to encourage our favourite flying friends.

Hidden Valley Gardens, Par

With a strong cottage garden feel predominantly planted with herbaceous perennials divided by tall hedges that divide the space in to rooms creates bite-sized areas that are easy to digest and a delicious inspiration to visitors.

From the nursery, entering the garden through a dramatic narrow entrance, further heightened by being presented with the Hot Border around the first corner in all its glory - Crocosmia 'Lucifer', heleniums, dahlias and kniphofias with their fiery hues are all that's needed to complete this powerful effect. Bronze fennel and purple-leaved hazel all play their part albeit with a more foliar approach. Continue past the Oval Bed and Pondside planting, over a pretty bridge and on to a cooler and shadier space; a time for reflection.

The fresh greens of the Fernery help to continue this feeling of calm towards the Bee and Butterfly Bed - a nectar-filled island of valuable habitats crammed with plants that attract pollinating insects and wildlife. Mown-grass paths through the longer flowering grasses proving that wildlife gardening can have flair and a strong design element.

Onwards to 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 borders 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.

Contact: Hidden Valley Gardens, Treesmill, Par, Cornwall, PL24 2TU

Trenarth Gardens, High Cross

For something a little bit different when it comes to plant choices, call in to Trenarth near Constantine where texture, form and the more unusual plants reign. A cool tree fern grove adds height and impact and is definitely an impressive feature. A 17th century farmhouse is the heart of this garden set in 4 acres of stunning countryside and surrounded by a woodland walk is the perfect place for wildlife lovers to spend an afternoon.

Trenarth has a resident colony of bats so as well as being able to enjoy the gardens, visitors can learn more about this amazing species from Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Bat Group. And there's the pond, a wildlife garden staple providing constant interest and a valuable habitat.

Highcroft Gardens, Saltash

Discover Highcroft Gardens within the picturesque Tamar Valley and it's obvious to see that this 20 year quest has reaped impressive rewards for Barry Richards. Glorious borders, stunning views and incredible collections of camellias, agapanthus, hydrangeas and grasses would be enough to tempt most through the gates. Add to this a Japanese garden, a Pastel Border, a Blue Border and an arboretum to name a few and you'll see that there is plenty for the visitor to enjoy in this three acre garden.

Extending the summer colour far into autumn is the Prairie planting consisting of more than two and a half thousand herbaceous perennials blending with swathes of grasses, the buddleia and shrub rose bank all adding to the floral drama in this garden.

Trevoole Farm, Praze-an-Beeble

Trevoole farm near Praze-an-Beeble is were horticulture and vintage styling collide. Built around a 16 century smallholding, the cottage garden style planting, a patchwork potager, rose walk and a charming bog garden complete a pretty and relaxed botanical haven.

Perennials intermingle freely surrounding a hidden shepherds hut, a wildflower meadow thrives beneath an aged orchard where an outside seating area for the delightful tea room nestles under the low fruity canopy. And if you are inspired by the feel of a bygone age, you can buy a key piece from the vintage shop.

Trevoole Farm, Praze-an-Beeble, TR14 0RN

trevoolefarm.co.uk

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