Trebah sub-tropical garden nestles within a valley leading down to the picturesque Helford River, nr Falmouth, Cornwall.
The view down the valley from the house
Trebah was first laid out as a pleasure garden by Charles Fox, a Quaker polymath of enormous creative energy who paid meticulous attention to the exact positioning of every tree. During World War II, Trebah was used for military purposes and the D-Day assault on Omaha Beach in Normandy was launched from Polgwidden beach, at the foot of Trebah Garden.
Between 1961 and 1971 Trebah was owned by the racing driver and car designer Donald Healey who removed most of the concrete from the beach, built the boathouse and restored the ponds. The boathouse is now a beach cafe. In 1981, Trebah was bought by Major Hibbert and his wife Eira, who continued a programme of restoration and in 1990 the Hibberts donated the house and garden to the Trebah Garden Trust, a registered charity.
The climate on the Cornish coast is mild and the planting has a distinctly exotic feel.
Paths run down the valley towards the river through lush shrubbery and stands of tree ferns
A walk through a forest of enormous bamboos. Beware, spiked ground.
The gunnera are not to be outdone.. taller than me
The real highlight of Trebah in summer is the display of hydrangeas:
En masse like this they do look quite impressive.
White hydrangea with Acanthus
Hydrangeas flanking the Mallard Pond in the lower part of the valley
A female, with ducklings!
Looking back up the valley to the house, from the far side of the pond
Taking this picture required some patience, there was always someone walking on the bridge! It appears very peaceful, and it was, but the garden was also full of people on this warm and sunny afternoon.
Just beyond the Mallard Pond lies Trebah’s beach
Time to sit in the sun for a while and savour an ice cream before climbing back up the hill. Toffee Crunch. This is becoming a habit.
On the way back we followed a path leading higher up the side of the valley and found Alice’s Seat
This beautiful open-fronted summerhouse with cob walls and thatched roof is a faithful re-creation of the original structure built for Alice Hext who purchased Trebah with her husband Charles in 1907. It was rebuilt in 2002 using green oak timbers and the cob and cobbles came from the garden. It recently won a prestigious Civic Trust award.
Surrounding the summerhouse are scores of plants chosen specifically for their fragrant flowers including Osmanthus, Myrtus and the delightful Christmas Box Sarcococca confusa. To sit here with the sun on your face and breathe in such an intoxicating mixture of perfume is one of the delights of a visit to Trebah.
(From the Trebah Garden website.)
Along the way a beautiful glimpse back across the Helford River estuary.
And Trebah’s magnificent Chusan palms, 14.7m high
It may have slipped my mind when I suggested this place to Mike, but it does have a Plant Centre too..