Trerice, Newquay

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On May 10th the weather for this visit was very different to our previous CGT trip, colder and with a fresh wind, but that didn’t detract from the visit which was enjoyed by fifteen members. The informative tour of the gardens was led by John Lanyon, manager of a number of National Trust Gardens in Cornwall, and Jennie, Gardener-in-Charge at Trerice. The gardens surround an Elizabethan Manor house, built of buff coloured limestone between 1571 and 1573 by Sir John Arundell. The National Trust bought the estate in 1954.

The first stop was overlooking the Ladies Garden – a newly planted area in the style of a Tudor Knot Garden – where John explained the complexities of garden development. The original Elizabethan gardens have long since disappeared and the designs lost. We were shown a number of dated plans, each indicating the location of a garden but with no detail. The latest garden is a geometric design, using yew hedging, and based on a ceiling pattern in the Great Chamber of the house. A summerhouse, indicated on many of the old plans is also to be reinstated.

We then admired the blue and white border giving a magnificent show of herbaceous plants including fine specimens of Scilla peruviana and wall shrubs such as the blue Wisteria in full bloom. The sun was shining to enhance the colours. Stopping in front of the house by what would have been the main entrance gate; we were shown pictures of the development of the house which has undergone many changes over the years. Today, unless subtle deviations to the façade are pointed out, the frontage shows little evidence of changes. The gateway, now has two piers surmounted by granite caps and round balls and was erected in 1976 using material recovered from the construction of Launceston bypass.

On our way to the parade ground, we passed the Bowling Green and resisted a game of Cornish Bowls (Kayling or Slapcock). The Parade Ground, a flat area so called because of its use by the Home Guard during the war, is now used for events such as archery and falconry.

Next we passed the Tudor vegetable garden behind the Barn; it contains colourful herbs and old-fashioned vegetable crops. This was inspired by an engraving ‘The Gardener’s Labyrinth’ (see article by Pamela Long in the Cornwall Gardens Trust Journal 2009) of vegetable growing over 400 years ago. The new greenhouse is used to raise the plants.

After braving the wind, we were happy to enter the restaurant where a hot drink and cream tea was welcome and enjoyed by all.

David Pearce