Penwarne, Mawnan Smith

Thursday March 29th was a perfect day when the bright sun was beautifully positioned against a clear blue sky to show the garden of Penwarne at its very best for the time of the year. As we turned off the B road to Mawnan Smith the drive took us past the tennis court to a park at the rear of the house. We were greeted by the owner Mrs Ruth Sawyer who graciously offered drinks and biscuits but we were immediately distracted by the enormous Rhododendron ‘Penjerrick’ at the front of the house. Around 30 members visited the garden which started with a brief talk by Ruth Sawyer. She introduced the head gardener, Simon Lawson, who was to be our guide around the gardens. We understood that the property had been part of a very large estate owned by the Penwarne family since the 14th Century.  By the 17th century portions had been sold off to become gardens we know as Trebah, Glendurgan, Penjerrick.

Our first stop was on the lawn in front of the main house which was accessed, across the main driveway, down a short slope to a breathtaking view of the numerous large red rhododendrons, azaleas and Magnolia campbellii.  Behind them our attention was drawn to the enormous Magnolia wilsonii in full bloom against the cloudless blue sky. Continuing along the muddy path to the duck pond that is supplied by fresh water springs we were entertained by the antics of the ducks eating the blossom of Camellia reticulata as the flower heads were shed around, even down the neck of my jacket as I watched.

We started down the zig-zag path alongside the water course towards the bog garden under splendid specimens of Gingko biloba (Maidenhair tree), Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir) and Magnolia campbelli ‘Lanarth’.  It would be good to return later to see the Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree) in full bloom.

We climbed back up to the walled garden which was created in Victorian times on the site of a medieval chapel sheltering a Morello cherry, apple trees, a swimming pool and a lawn for picnics.

Simon Lawson was congratulated on his loving care of these very mature gardens which was much appreciated by all members.

Jill Burn and Christopher Gadsden