Higher Truscott, St Stephens

High on a hill above Launceston stands the charming hamlet of Higher Truscott. It was here that a small and privileged group of members gathered to be shown around the garden belonging to John and Gilly Mann.  Developed over a period of 40 years or so, from the yard and orchard of an old farmhouse, the area to the rear of the house is an impressive alpine garden filled with plant men’s objects of desire including a dwarf Dierama; Meconopsis regia; Phyteuma ‘scheuchzeri’; unusual Alliums and countless other treasures sheltered to the north by a forty year old Acer griseum amongst others.  Gradually the more formal garden morphs into a ‘woodland area’ of Viburnums, Acers, Magnolias including fine M. proctoriana, which in Spring is underplanted with white Fritillarias; and a large Magnolia stellata which came from the original Treseder’s Nursery in Truro.  Bit by covetous bit we worked our way, past numerous granite troughs and other containers filled with goodies to the front of the house, which is swathed with the mauve ‘Potato Vine’ Ipomoea – in full flower and then across the road to an unexpected treasure house.

On the site of a redundant swimming pool, John has designed and built an impressive formal water garden.  A tall, straight vase/fountain connected by a rill to a deep tank, in one corner of which he has thoughtfully placed a ‘frog ladder’!  A sumptuous planting of Japanese iris and peonies; Paeonia lactiflora ‘Barrymore’ and P.lactiflora ‘Silver Flare’ backed by a hedge of golden Lonicera divides this from another woodland area of trees and shrubs including a late flowering Rhododendron ‘Tortoiseshell Orange’;  Camellia ‘Anticipation’ which flowered generously despite facing east; an eye catching hybrid Deutzia ‘Magicien’ which is shaded from deep pink through to white and many other unusual things underplanted with lots of groundcover subjects including a vivid Geranium nodosum ‘Swish Purple’ and Brunnera ‘Mr Morse’ – a white flowered variety.

We wandered through and along mown grass paths to a formal path lined with roses and squares of box hedging to a seat in an arbour of climbers and the ‘business end’ of the garden.   We then made our way back to the house through this amazing garden, which despite the miserable weather managed to be full of colour and interest.  Over tea and biscuits in the Garden Room which overlooks the alpine garden, I found myself wondering whether Gilly and John ever had ‘time to stand and stare’ at the delight they have created.  Certainly, we appreciated being given the opportunity to do so.

Jenny Parshall