VISITING SCORRIER HOUSE GARDENS
PUBLISHED: 15:23 19 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:36 30 August 2017
The gardens of Scorrier House near Redruth, Cornwall has one of the tallest Monkey Puzzle trees in Europe and rare magnolias and other plant breeds
From one of the tallest Monkey Puzzle trees in Europe to rare pines, magnolias, cedars and a Chusan Palm, the garden at Scorrier House near Redruth is a horticultural treasure trove. SUE BRADBURY takes a stroll
First established by John Williams in 1778, the Scorrier Estate has passed through seven generations of the same family to its current owners Richard and Caroline Williams. When Richard’s mother, Margaret, first lived in the house, there were 16 gardeners. Now the couple look after around ten acres with just the help of full-time gardener John Baker, who has been with them for eleven years, and his part-time assistant David Sanders.
Scorrier is a wonderful mixture of well-stocked herbaceous beds, old walls covered in roses and camellias, magnificent trees, a huge variety of shrubs and natural wildflower areas. Famous nineteenth century plantsman William Lobb once worked among its historic walls and walks and some of the many seeds brought back from his later expeditions to North and South America have grown into the lovely array of specimens still thriving in its grounds.
Transformed in recent years into a popular wedding venue, Scorrier House has a bright, sunny conservatory that boasts a collection of tender plants - including a beautiful, scented Lucillia Grandiflora tree from Chile. Outside, a walk through a more formal area of neatly cut lawns and white flowering beds leads to a swimming pool and, beyond that, a blue painted gazebo where marriage vows are exchanged.
Further along there are wilder areas with Chilean myrtles, stunning red rhododendrons and unmown grass full of fritillaries that have been specially planted to attract butterflies. A large, productive vegetable garden - sheltered from the elements by walls covered in flowers like those of the thornless yellow banksia rose – grows everything from leeks, purple sprouting broccoli, beans and carrots to cider apples, pears, gooseberries and blackcurrants. Gone are the days when a request for a cauliflower for lunch would result in a chain of instructions from the butler down to the under-gardener that ended with the selected vegetable being dug up and presented to the kitchen staff for cooking. Now, when Richard and Caroline want to eat their own produce, they go and get it for themselves.
“A lot has changed over the centuries but it’s still a very special place,” says Caroline. “We’ve done a lot to the garden in the last ten years and we’re both very proud of it. I love the fact that it’s not perfect and has lots of quirky nooks and crannies. Walking round each day gives me real pleasure.”
In addition to umpteen winding paths, an impressive camellia walk, an unusual Biloba Ginkgo, a wisteria archway, a listed ha-ha that separates the garden from the surrounding parkland and a huge white azalea hedge, there are some ancient stone crosses. A carving of Christ leaning his head on his hand is on the smaller of the two while the bigger one once stood on a junction at Rame.
“We also think that’s the old spire of St Day Church,” says Caroline, pointing to another feature. “There’s a lot of history here that’s all connected with the family in one way or another. Three Magnolia Cambelli, for example, were planted to celebrate Richard’s 21st birthday.”
As well as allowing their home to be used for weddings, special occasions and corporate functions, the Williams will be opening Scorrier House to the public through the National Garden Scheme on Sunday 1 June. All proceeds will go to charity and homemade teas will be available in the drawing room.
“It’s lovely to be able to share what we’ve got here for such a worthwhile cause,” says Richard. “I hope visitors enjoy it.”
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