GLORIOUS CORNISH GARDENS: HELLEBORE DAY AT BOSVIGO
PUBLISHED: 11:06 17 February 2015 | UPDATED: 13:06 30 August 2017
The Boxing Day tsunami killed 230,000 people - among them Wendy Perry’s daughter Hannah. Wendy’s annual Hellebore Day at her Truro home continues to raise money to help those affected by disaster
It’s more than a decade since the Boxing Day tsunami that killed 230,000 people - among them Wendy Perry’s daughter Hannah. Wendy’s annual Hellebore Day at her Truro home continues to raise money to help those affected by disaster. LOUISE DANKS finds out more
Bosvigo House can be found a mile from the centre of Truro it is surrounded by a two- acre garden lovingly tended by Wendy Perry who is perhaps best known for her work with hellebores and her woodland garden. Her knowledge of hellebores and the experience garnered through growing and breeding them, means that Bosvigo House is home to the West Country’s foremost expert on these woodland beauties and her vast collection.
Having spent the last 46 years creating her garden, it’s no surprise that what Wendy has developed here is very special. Arriving to a sea of impenetrable laurel and dying elms, there was some serious work to be done. After clearing the area, planting could commence beneath the remaining mature beech trees that still stand today.
Statuesque as they are, they provide challenging growing conditions in the form of dry shade and shallow soil for anything putting down roots under this canopy.
Now the framework of evergreen hedges and network of gravel paths lead the visitor around the generous borders.
Wendy’s clever choice of shrubs is key to the design of the woodland garden, she chooses only those with an open, airy habit, specimens that can be seen through that add height, structure and interest but that don’t block the view of the woodland garden as a whole. The tantalising glimpses of hellebores flowering, under planted with glorious drifts of early spring bulbs can be seen, subtly obscured but never completely concealed.
Wendy is obviously a big fan of hellebores and extremely knowledgeable on the subject but they are just one of a long list of plants that she is passionate about. Epimediums make their home in the woodland garden and grace the borders with their delicate racemes of individual flowers, they are another of Wendy’s favourites as are snowdrops which feature heavily in the woodland garden at Bosvigo, Wendy suggest a unique way to view these fascinating plants I have been known to lie flat on my back on the path looking up into the centre of a snowdrop dancing against the sky!’.
Wendy provides her hellebores with beautiful bedfellows in the form of bulbs, species crocus, erythroniums and muscari create pools of contrasting colour for under planting. Crocus tommasinianus Roseus’– described simply as Heaven’ by Wendy is a pretty blush-pink crocus. Another versatile favourite is Scilla mischtschenkoana a pale iceblue scilla with a darker blue stripe running from the base to the tip of each petal. Combined with the pure white of the snowdrops is a very beguiling partnership’. Muscari Blue Magic’ and M. Lady Blue’ are two grape hyacinths that Wendy recommends pairing with a striking green hellebore for maximum impact and ground cover that highlights the glossy, leathery leaves of this herbaceous plant.
Hellebores can easily be in beauty for a good 10 weeks. I can still have flowers in the woodland garden in May.’ Says Wendy, extolling the further virtues of these robust perennials. I only sell my hellebores when they are in flower and when breeding them, I aim for a short flower stem. Too long a stem and the cup’ does nothing but look at the floor a shorter stem or pedicel ensures the cup is lifted and the centre can be seen. You need to be able to see any spots or stripes or ruffles inside!’
Saturday, 21 February is the eagerly awaited Hellebore Day at Bosvigo House. Wendy welcomes visitors wishing to view the woodland garden at a time of year when the snowdrops are in bloom and the hellebores are at their best.
Gates open at 9.30am, the event will be opened by Wendy’s grandsons Freddie (15) and Jack (10) and the incredibly busy plant sales begin at 10am. Look out for the Posh Tombola’ and the delicious refreshments served from the old servants’ quarters. This hugely popular event began as a simple hellebore plant sale, it now marks the start of spring in the horticultural calendar and is a tremendous day out.
10 years ago Wendy’s daughter Hannah Perry lost her life in the Boxing Day tsunami, Wendy wanted to use her open day to raise money to help support the fisherman of Khao Lak in Thailand rebuild their lives following the devastation. She continues to give a donation from the proceeds of the hellebore day to Cornish charity Shelterbox who provide emergency shelter and aid in times of disaster worldwide.
Bosvigo House, Bosvigo Lane, Truro,
Cornwall, TR1 3NH