Tregarthen Vean, Mylor

As we arrived on Wednesday August 8th, we were welcomed by our host Mr Williams and shown photos of the estate when it was his father’s market garden. Then there were lots of greenhouses growing tomatoes and now only one greenhouse remains, where perennial plants for sale are grown.

His father’s house is to the east and beyond is their house built in 1995. Mr Williams planted trees around the new house before the building even began. Now there are 12 acres of planted arboretum and garden.

Mr Williams led the way, explaining his plantings as we went and pointing out favourite groupings etc. We walked along wide avenues of mown grass with beds of different sizes & shapes with trees, shrubs and perennials on either side. Many splendid trees were to be seen, including a viridian elm tree and a Wych Elm, Ulmus  glabra with beautiful large yellow tinged leaves, various oaks, blue cedars beside a Nyssa sylvatica for colour contrast in the autumn, conifers, Cornus capitata, camellias and a golden leaved cedar. In another bed a group of Betula jacquemontii with apricot peeling trunks. In another group we saw Davidia, the pocket handkerchief tree and many different maples, behind which there were windbreak trees, some grown from seeds from New England.

After the glade we turned down onto a path, with Victorian ‘street lights’, towards the house. There were island beds on either side with a mix of trees and shrubs with perennials below for colour. The soil is heavy clay. There was hardly a weed to be seen, as a mulch of tree chips and mushroom compost is used.  Several large rounded glacial stones are features in the garden, grouped amongst the shrubs.

A stand of maples giving good autumn colour was grown seeds from New England. A Parottia persica had already turned maroon, prematurely. There was a very large oak tree in a raised bed which had been part of a hedge. Nearby a variegated cornus was planted in front of dark pines together with several blue cedars.

To give an example of the mixed planting, one bed contained silver cedars with other conifers at the back and, in front, several different acers, camellias, dark leaved hazels, abelias, heaths, hydrangeas, penstemons, hellebores and a  Viburnum davidii. There were also beds with colour contrasts including gold and red with dark green leaved shrubs.

The sloping path led towards the house with its terrace. There were potted begonias, a small fountain in a shallow stone cup with stones round in the pond underneath. We saw cannas, agapanthus, fuchsias, crinums bright with colour in the surrounding beds.  From here you look across at a splendid bed of perennials with, at the back of the bed, a special late-flowering white rhododendron in full flower. Mr Williams tries to extend the flowering season with his planting here, for example hibiscus to give autumn colour and a mixture of perennials. Also seen here are tree peonies, the late flowering pink magnolia ‘Star Wars’, a deodar cedar and groupings of hosta, alstroemeria and crocosmia.

A wide grass swathe below the house sloped down towards the large pond surrounded by pampas grass with flowering heads removed, their distinctive leaves looking dramatic. Beyond is a newly planted quarry with raised beds & small trees and shrubs. The area is surrounded by oak, sycamore and sweet chestnut in an outer circle. Taking a lower route back we saw effective planting for shapes and colours of the trees and their foliage including a Cryptomaria japonica and two deciduous conifers – a golden metasequoia and a taxodium, the swamp cypress.

Altogether this was a fascinating and very instructive visit for the Cornwall Gardens Trust members. Mr Williams was a delightful host, answering many questions and enquiries about his plantings as we walked round. When we left we passed the last greenhouse where there were plants for sale grown by the two horticulturists who use the glasshouse and also are employed to mow the acres of grass.  Several members bought plants.

Julia Hodgkin & Ianthe del Tufo