A COTTAGE GARDEN IN ST CLEMENT
PUBLISHED: 14:22 19 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:38 30 August 2017
Riverside Cottage has one of Cornwall's most glorious gardens near Truro on the St Clement estuary
A stone’s throw from the banks of the St Clement Estuary with nothing save for the odd dog walker to come between the garden of Riverside Cottage and the ever changing watery view is a beautiful garden nestling in the heart of the village of St Clement just between Truro and Tresillian.
The tranquillity of the surroundings belies this gardens proximity to Truro; less than a ten-minute drive from the hubbub and traffic of the city can find you at Riverside Cottage should you choose to visit.
Nick and Billa Jeans have developed the space surrounding their home over eight years and it, like all gardens, has its own unique characteristics imposed by its topography, micro climate and history. And like all good gardens it is still evolving.
We fell into opening our garden by accident,’ says Billa. A friend suggested we do it and I thought we could have a go and see what happened, but actually we have a real push to get the garden ready for the opening and then it looks lovely for the rest of the year!’
Riverside Cottage is very pretty and the front garden is everything you’d expect; a meandering path to the front door, beds of frothy perennials and annuals rubbing shoulders nicely under a canopy of dappled shade beautifully framing a view that you could never tire of. Bustling with cottage garden favourites, such as honesty, aquilegia, fuchsia, forget-me-knots and bulbs that change with the seasons including Gladiolus byzantinus, a deep magenta flowering bulb known as Whistling Jacks. A low lavender hedge leads up to the front door, where grape hyacinths emerge in the spring with their rich blue blooms held proud.
It’s lovely to have the footpath along the front of the house, we get so many lovely comments and questions about the garden, it makes us remember the Latin names!’ jokes Billa. I always have to make sure I have a supply of Erigeron karvinskianus potted up as people love it.’
Being a staple of Cornish gardens, this little crevice plant has a fantastic habit of softening hard landscaping in a garden. It looks great against the gravel paths and sympathetically constructed steps made from reclaimed sleepers with thick rope bannisters that are perfectly in keeping with the garden.
Directly behind the cottage is a flat area of lawn embraced by beds of roses and a scattering of oriental poppies, more aquilegia, borage and tulips. This section of the garden is elevated and as such, provides an even more impressive vantage point out across the river. The informal amphitheatre effect created by the wraparound borders here concentrates the fragrance of the roses and the raised beds lift the blooms to head height, perfect for smelling when passing under the rose arbor to the rest of the garden.Crossing the lane at the back of the cottage and more garden is revealed. A mature orchard under-planted with wildflowers that bloom in synch with the seasons amongst long grass. Apple blossom droops down to touch the cow parsley flowers as they reach up, the simplicity is effective and lets the character of the old gnarled apple trees shine through.
Mown grass paths allow ease of access up to the Nut walk and across to The Dell where a welcoming swing seat provides a pause to take in a further view of the river.
A new addition to the garden is the Pergola Bed, made possible when a particularly large apple tree laden with fruit collapsed under its weight and had to be removed. Billa and Nick saw this as an opportunity to further develop the garden by carving out a pair of generous beds and building a pergola. In front of this new section of the garden is an attractive vegetable plot featuring raised beds, impeccably maintained and cropping heavily, proving that the more practical areas of a garden can provide masses of interest and ornamental value.
Another more practical areas of the garden is Nick’s compost factory; it has different sections for each ingredient’, grass clippings and leaf mould are blended to provide Billa with a tailor-made mulch or soil improver depending on each border’s requirements.
At the very top of the garden is the perfectly named Kicking Lawn, flanked by hornbeam, field maple and a large horse chestnut. It’s the largest flat area in the garden and just right ball games, there can’t be too many football pitches with a view as good as this one.
Returning to the house back down the far side of the garden and a mixed hedge of predominantly native species of blackthorn, hawthorn, beech, dog rose and holly has deep drifts of wildflowers and bulbs planted at its feet stretching to the edge of the path that curves down to the lane at the back of the house passing yet more mixed borders that although relatively newly planted are maturing well with flowering shrubs like viburnum and buddleja and a mixture of roses.
There is so much to see in the garden at Riverside Cottage and further afield at St Clement; the idyllic village, the churchyard - which is part of The Living Churchyard Project - along with the river and associated wildlife, provide an extra dimension to this magical setting.
Billa & Nick Jeans, Riverside Cottage St. Clement, Truro, Cornwall TR1 1SZ
Open Sun 25 May (2-5pm). Visitors also welcome by appointment throughout April and May.