A Modern Classic

PUBLISHED: 11:02 24 April 2013 | UPDATED: 15:11 24 April 2013

CWL JNE 13 Gardens from Rupert Trelissick

CWL JNE 13 Gardens from Rupert Trelissick


Getting out and about for some exercise might be one of your New Years Resolutions but it neednt be a chore if you pick the right location. With iconic views of the Fal Estuary, along Carrick Roads and out to sea, a visit to Trelissick could be perfect for kick-starting your January.

Before its original planting in 1820 a view from Tregothnan another famous Cornish estate- recorded in their Humphrey Repton Red Book showed Trelissick as rolling hills; no planting in sight. Many of the original trees are still standing today, now the largest old men of the garden in this National Trust owned property complete with stunning gardens and sprawling parkland

During the 1920s and 30s, rhododendron fever hit in earnest and many Cornish gardens sent rhododendrons to Trelissick; today they provide the garden with much of its mid-canopy planting.

Having changed hands many times since its conception, the gardens chart the rise and fall of mineral wealth in the county. The National Trust has provided some much needed continuity in the life of this garden. Taken under the Trusts wing in 1955 this is a garden like no other, it appears to be steeped in history assistant head gardener Tom Clarke likens its many layers to that of an onion.

Tom arrived at Trelissick as a gardener after undertaking a National Trust apprenticeship - he is now the assistant head gardener and happy to see many of his plans and plantings come to fruition in the years to come.

The gardens most exciting feature is that it is modern states Tom. Not dictated by the style of the house due to its location has meant that its various owners have been instilled with a sense of imagination; free to work with the topography and climate provided. This also means that a multitude of horticultural styles work. Tom and his team are working through what cannot fail to be a defining moment in the gardens history.

Enhanced borders, planted with gingers, scheffleras, unusual dahlias and impatiens from Mount Kenya in Africa lead to the Main Lawn. Creating rhythm by careful repetition of choice plants is effective here the borders are now wider and longer, they sweep greedily around the Main Lawn, engulfing the turf and embracing a giant cryptomeria one of many statement conifers throughout the garden. Trelissick showcases fantastic examples of conifers contributing imaginatively to the landscape when planted well and many of the specimen conifers here are wild-collected with impressive provenance

The enviable conditions created here where this hill surrounded on three sides by water courtesy of the Fal Estuary means that the beauty of the gardens and parkland at Trelissick are only surpassed by the incredible, ever-changing views that are natures own.

And there is no better place to enjoy them than the former tennis court. It is still a lawn but is now planted with tough olearia and phormium that tolerate strong salt-laden winds and provide important evergreen structure. Deliberately calm, the subdued simple planting featured here showcases the amazing view that takes in both the house and the watery vista of the Fal.

Follow the Spring Walk, which encapsulates the essence of a classic Cornish Spring garden, during this month and those precious early blooms can be spotted. Tom and the team have planted acers and other deciduous trees to create a mid-canopy layer. The upper-canopy was planted to replace trees lost in the storm of 1990 and are reaching maturity themselves now.

Semi-mature rhododendrons from Exbury Gardens in Hampshire have been planted in abundance; one of the problems Tom faces having inherited an ageing plant collection is how to manage it, how to replace large mature specimens, the timing of this and accurate plant selection.

A temporary exhibition of Reece Ingrams sculptures are happily at home at Trelissick, inspiration coming from nature with living creatures dominating.

Tom and the team have worked hard on linking areas of the garden, creating that seamless tangible flow that makes a garden magical. The planting is experimental and free with particular attention to detailed plant selection.

Moving from the more formal parts of the garden to the woodland - which was originally a Victorian Pleasure Garden one drops down into The Dell, a north-facing shaded spot where the atmosphere is thick, the temperature lower and the air more still. Texture abounds, tree ferns thrive, large-leaved rhododendrons make visitors feel like Lilliputians.

Having removed rhododendron ponticum, sycamore and laurel, Tom and the team have spent time replanting The Shaded Walk. Hardy scheffleras, flowering gingers and many more Asiatic plants thrive under the high beech canopy which provides the perfect level of dappled shade

One then emerges out into Carcaddon, (the prefix Car being Cornish for a fortified place) a seven-acre arboretum planted during the 1950s and 60s by the National Trust. Now it provides space and a chance to pause and reflect; the perfect foil to the more densely planted Dell. On to The Orchard, home to 60 Cornish varieties an edible, living museum complete with giant apple press.

Trelissick has a unique quality that makes it a part of the community, it is anchored in the psyche of those who know and visit the garden from the regular dog walkers to the plantaholic.

If its been a while since your last visit youll not fail to notice that its an important time in the gardens life with new developments happening at every turn. Perhaps youve never been, either way to know it is to love it





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