Tregonning Lodge, Stithians

15 members met at Tregonning Lodge, the home of Jenny & Patricia Thomas on the outskirts of Stithians. Happily the sun was shining as the previous day had been continuous rain, but the stiff breeze reminded us of Stithian’s elevated position. We parked our cars on grass outside what might have appeared in passing the gates to be a large bungalow with colourful and well stocked flower beds around it. However, on entering the forecourt, the full extent of the garden opened up, sloping southwards away from the bungalow. Below the terraces around the bungalow was a vast sweep of well mown grass planted up with many trees and shrubs stretching down past a boggy area with ponds to the garden boundary and the river Kennal.

Jeremy, a former woodwork teacher and headmaster from Launceston assembled us and told us that they had lived there for 10 years, taking on an old tree nursery. With much hard work they had removed many overgrown trees and planted up their own selection of interesting trees and shrubs which were well established and extremely healthy and vigorous. Jeremy assembled us into a disorganised crocodile and took us on a tour of the garden starting through the planting down the west side which was sheltered by a long stand of conifers, the last remains of the nursery, which by now were enormous.

Of interest here were Catalpa, Aralia and Paulonia which had not yet Tregonning Lodgeflowered but were of a size and age that soon would, together with a Black Walnut and Cedar of Lebanon. We were ushered to look over a large pond with a central island complete with standing-stone rescued from an old road bridge over the river Kennal. Jeremy called it the ‘mobstone’ a Gaelic term used where he came from in South Wales. The island and the mainland were connected with a beautiful wooden bridge, constructed by Jeremy and painted a landscape-enhancing blue. The timber construction matched the gated entrance into the garden and bungalow and a pergola leading up from the top terrace to the conservatory. Having admired the pond and the splendid water lilies and tried out the bridge, Jeremy led us to the bottom of the slope where we could hear the river.

We walked back up the east side, past an area of wildflower meadow with a minor stone circle of three small stones, through more trees and shrubs. We admired the outstanding unnamed Buddleja with dark violet flowers in the form of ‘Dartmoor’ and a beautifully symmetrical Monkey Puzzle tree with ten rings of branches, Magnolia soulangeana ‘Lennei’ which had not yet flowered and Euonymus alatus which promised to give splendid autumn colours. Back at the top of the slope, Jeremy left us to enjoy the planting in beds around the bungalow very healthy roses, verbascums, penstemons and much else. There was a small rockery with an eye-catching Echeveria before we came onto the terrace to enjoy a cream tea with super home-made raspberry jam.

We were fortunate to have been able to see the garden as Jeremy intimated that, having opened to the public for two years, they might not be opening in future. They found that the time involved in preparation prevented them from enjoying escapes in their camper van in the early part of summer. Many thanks go to Jeremy and Patricia.

Elisabeth Walker