Trebah Garden, Cornwall


 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.

(Edited from The Great Gardens of Cornwall and Wikipedia.)



 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



 The Bamboozle

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



 Cue Mallards..

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.. 🙂


2018-04-09T19:41:12+00:00July 18th, 2014|Tags: |


  1. Rosie July 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Oh how wonderful this garden looks. I’ve loved looking at all your photos and imagining being there, what a super place to spend a few hours on a warm, summer’s day:)

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      It’s a lovely one Rosie, if you’re ever down this way. And Glendurgan (NT) which is right next door.

  2. Alain July 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    What a magical place with so many beautiful views. It must have been a very pleasant visit.

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      I seem to be drawn to gardens by the sea, although down here that is where many grand old houses were built. I just wish I could grow the same range of plants inland.

  3. Sigrun July 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Oh thank you, you made my day! I visited Trebah ten years ago, in August. It was very hot. I have a lot of pictures similar to yours. And one with me under the Gunnera. And I loved the shop.


    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      They now have a gunnera walk, so you can go right into the middle of the clump. It was weird, the leaves creak in the wind!

  4. buntyw July 18, 2014 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    We used to visit Trebah a lot years ago when the children were small – I’d love to return one day!
    Thank you for the lovely photos !

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Hi buntyw and welcome to rusty duck!
      It’s years since we’ve been there too. They have a smart new visitor area now, but the garden is much the same as I remembered it. I love how lush it feels and so peaceful walking under and between the trees.

  5. Countryside Tales July 18, 2014 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    That looks like a perfect day out. The shot with the bridge works really well and I love the bamboo and gunnera 🙂

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      That shot has a sort of Monet feel about it to me, complete with water lilies.

  6. Pauline July 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Thanks for bringing back happy memories, it must be over 10yrs since we were there because my Mum came with us, I don’t think there were ice creams at the bottom in those days! Such a lovely spot.

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      I don’t remember them being there last time either, well over ten years ago. But I felt I deserved it, fewer calories by the time we’d made it back up the hill.

  7. Jenny July 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Wow, looks like a stunning place to visit – so well thought out and planned with a great mix of plants. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      It does seem well planned, earlier in the year it is the rhododendrons that provide colour. They do the same job as the hydrangeas in summer, but are planted all together further up the valley.

  8. jacktowers4 July 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    What lovely pictures you take. I’ve went to Heligan a few years ago, but I shall certainly visit Trebah next time I go west.

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

      Thank you! Heligan is on my list too, perhaps in September when it gets a bit less crowded.

  9. rachel July 18, 2014 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    Been there. V. lovely.

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      It is. I loved the water garden too, but that was too full of people to be able to photograph easily.

  10. angiesgardendiaries July 18, 2014 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    I have thoroughly enjoyed Trebah through your eyes Jessica – what a wonderful place. Having never been but read about the place many times, I am fully aware of it’s beauty and one day I will visit.
    Each and every image perfect, you chose the perfect vantage point each ad every time. Thanks for sharing your visit with us.

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks Angie. There were so many good vantage points we were spoilt for choice!

  11. Amy at love made my home July 18, 2014 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    It is so beautiful!!! Thank you for taking us along and for the patience in getting such wonderful photos. I am so glad that you had such a good time and a lovely ice cream too! xx

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:44 pm - Reply

      A wedding anniversary treat..

  12. Alison July 18, 2014 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    What a great garden! That view back up to the house across the pond is spectacular!

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      Isn’t it just. But living on a hill myself I don’t envy the gardeners!

  13. Em July 18, 2014 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    We went there in 2005 with OB in a back pack carrier thing as he wasn’t walking yet. Aren’t there cottages down the bottom that you can rent out? You’ve made me want to go back; such beautiful photos. My favourite is the acanthus with the hydrangea.

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm - Reply

      I don’t remember cottages, which doesn’t mean they aren’t there. But you may be thinking of Glendurgan in the very next valley. It does have cottages which NT rent out. I wish we’d planned the day better, we could have done both gardens with lunch in between. I suppose we’ll just have to go back..

  14. Willow July 18, 2014 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness what fabulousness ~ I would love it .
    Thanks for the share !

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome!

  15. Mark and Gaz July 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Such a stunning garden that we never get tired of visiting every time we’re in Cornwall. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:56 pm - Reply

      I thought of you as soon as we got to the entrance, very jungly! The tree ferns looked magnificent, the climate is obviously perfect for them.

  16. Charlie@Seattle Trekker July 18, 2014 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    That was a really fun walk through a very wonderful garden…Love the bridge.

    • Jessica July 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      The bridge really sets it off doesn’t it? A relatively recent addition if I remember rightly.

  17. snowbird July 18, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    Wow, what a brilliant day out! There are so many wonderful images to comment on, I simply love the bamboo, hydrangeas and the water lily, the little chick really add to the scene. I would enjoy trotting across the little Monet bridge

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 9:35 am - Reply

      I spent ages on the bridge, once I’d received clearance from the photographer, mostly watching the ducklings. It’s a lovely spot.

  18. paxton3 July 18, 2014 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    I love Trebah. We have been many times.
    Leanne xx

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 9:38 am - Reply

      Any other Cornish garden recommendations gratefully received!

  19. CJ July 18, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    I came SO close to a trip to Trebah a couple of weeks ago, but it slipped out of my grasp at the last moment (no-one else was particularly keen). So it’s lovely to see all of your pictures. Oh I would have loved it. Next time, next time… And I’ll be having one of those ice-creams as well. Glad you enjoyed it. CJ xx

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 9:40 am - Reply

      There is plenty there for the boys too.. they’d have enjoyed the gunnera and bamboo walks, and the beach. Hope you get to go next time!

  20. ehpyle July 18, 2014 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    So lovely! I had no idea the SW coast was so subtropical. Tree ferns, gunnera, oh my!

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 9:50 am - Reply

      Some of these sheltered valleys have their own microclimate. The proximity to the sea and Gulf Stream keep the south west coast milder than inland. You don’t have to travel very far though to lose that effect.

  21. emilymbrown13 July 18, 2014 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    Beautiful Trebah Gardens, and a good plant centre. If you are down this way you should check out Lamorran Garden in St Mawes, that’s another smaller sub tropical garden overlooking the sea. Enjoy Cornwall, it’s stunning in this weather.

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 9:51 am - Reply

      Thanks for that tip Emily, it’s now on my list!

  22. Chloris July 18, 2014 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    Lovely photos. I love Trebah too, it is a very special garden as is Glendurgan. And what about Trelissick? I hope you have time to go there too.
    I am looking forward to seeing what you bought.
    And perhaps you will have time to go to Burncoose?

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 9:56 am - Reply

      I’d forgotten about Burncoose, thanks for reminding me. I’ve been struggling to find really good nurseries in Devon, but hop over the border and the world’s your gunnera.

  23. Marian July 19, 2014 at 12:52 am - Reply

    Wow!!! This is soooo pretty, more than pretty, almost like a dream and not really possible. Very exotic indeed but still, it also reminds me of Brittany somehow with the many Hydrangeas. Only place I’ve ever seen them in those large amounts together is Brittany. A garden I’d want to visit once. Thanks so much for taking me there through your blog Jessica. I loved it!

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Hydrangeas are very much part of Cornwall too, most often blue. Our soil is on the acidic side, so I was hoping for blue. So far muddy purple is the best I can do!

  24. woolythymes July 19, 2014 at 2:22 am - Reply

    you are always popping in to the most beautiful spots…..places I don’t think i’d ever discover on my own!!! Thanks again for the wonderful ‘tour’!

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 10:05 am - Reply

      There are many lovely gardens in Cornwall, it will take me a while to get round them all. But I will try!

  25. Paul Clancy July 19, 2014 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Utterly stunning images Jessica. We missed Trebah on our recent trip, I’d love to visit. Reading your blog post takes me right back to Cornwall. Tree ferns in a lawn! How do they do it, my would never look so stunning in a similar position. Have a great weekend. Paul 🙂

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 10:10 am - Reply

      The lawn was more remarkable than the tree fern… given the moisture and the surrounding trees. In similar conditions ours is straggly and more moss than grass 🙁

  26. Janet/Plantaliscious July 19, 2014 at 8:14 am - Reply

    I remember those bamboo, very well, and feeling faintly freaked by the enormous gunners. Most of all, I remember getting to the Helford river. Its a stunning location, but then all those Cornish valley gardens are amazing, crammed with history and a celebration of the plant hunters. Beautiful garden, thank you for the trip down memory lane, but come on, confess, what did you buy?!

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 10:21 am - Reply

      You aren’t going to believe this. Nothing, in the end. I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of a plant centre empty handed before. I was seriously tempted. They had gunnera, reasonably priced, and some wonderful echiums, but I just don’t have the space for big plantings until I’ve cleared more land and I was on the lookout for stuff for the terraces. The good news is it’s possible to get back into the plant area for free, anytime..

      • Janet/Plantaliscious July 19, 2014 at 9:57 pm - Reply

        Wow, I am impressed at your restraint – though I have been known to do likewise, something to do with how depressing it is to buy something lovely and then watch it die in its pot while you wait to be ready to plant it… Burncoose Nursery must be fairly accessible to you – well worth a visit when you have some planting spaces available shouting at you…

        • Jessica July 20, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

          Burncoose is a fair way away, but if I was looking for a few plants it would definitely be worth it.. it’s an excellent nursery. I should build it in to the next trip to Cornwall, we go fairly often, thanks for the reminder.

  27. sustainablemum July 19, 2014 at 8:43 am - Reply

    What a wonderful place to while away a day, beautiful :). Hope you managed to sneak a few purchases into the car.

    • Jessica July 19, 2014 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Not this time, it just means I’ll have to go back doesn’t it.

  28. Helene July 19, 2014 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Absolutely lovely, what a treat, and the hydrangea garden was amazing! And you picked such a nice day for it too, real postcard photos, thanks for letting me tag along!

    • Jessica July 20, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

      We were lucky with the weather, there have been some quite heavy showers down here. My garden doesn’t look as good as this one! Thanks Helene.

  29. Sue@GLAllotments July 19, 2014 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Lovely. Don’t you just hate it when someone decides to just stand right in the centre of a photogenic spot and decide not to move. I’m sure they see you poised with a camera and do it on purpose.

    • Jessica July 20, 2014 at 10:23 am - Reply

      I wondered why they were taking so long until I got on to the bridge myself, they were watching the ducklings. As did I after that, I thought it was only fair!

  30. elaine July 20, 2014 at 8:21 am - Reply

    What a lovely lovely garden – and although I’m not a big fan of hydrangeas they do look fabulous in that setting. Oh to have a large garden with space for mass plantings. If you lived there you’d never want to leave that’s for sure.

    • Jessica July 20, 2014 at 10:36 am - Reply

      I would agree totally about hydrangeas. For me they are like rhodos, best seen as pops of colour from a distance. I do like them when they are fading though, and this year must remember to cut some to dry for the house. The exception is white paniculatas, I love those at all stages.

  31. Anna July 20, 2014 at 11:52 am - Reply

    What a fabulous place to visit Jessica. Have not been to Falmouth since I was a teenager on a family holiday but I remember the town clearly. Will have to point our camper van in the direction of Cornwall before too long.

    • Jessica July 20, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      September would be a good time, it’s quieter after the school holidays but the weather is still nice. Well, hopefully nice.

  32. CherryPie July 20, 2014 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    This looks like a fabulous garden and it has an interesting history to go with it.

    • Jessica July 20, 2014 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      It’s one of Cornwall’s best Cherie.

  33. Jo July 20, 2014 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    It looks fabulous. I’d have loved to have visited some garden whilst I was in Cornwall but having two teens with me put the kibosh on that idea. Perhaps Mick and I will go back on our own one day and then I’ll be able to do all the garden visiting I want.

    • Jessica July 20, 2014 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      You’ll have plenty of choice. I hope you had a good holiday Jo, there were some good weather days for sure. Look forward to reading all about it, it’s so interesting to see places you know through someone else’s eyes.

  34. Cathy July 20, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Not been to Cornwall since the Big Birthday before last, when we visited Heligan and the Eden Project – not quite the same in December…. There will be lots of gardens on my list when we do next make it down there, so thanks for whetting my appetite!

    • Jessica July 20, 2014 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      I’ve still to get to Heligan, that is definitely on my list. We almost made it this January (not the same either) but just as we were about to go in the heavens opened.

  35. Sarah July 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    I have never been here but have seen images and glimpses of it on the television. Your pictures are fantastic and I haven’t seen any others that show it as beautiful as this. Sarah x

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sarah, I’ve been wanting to go back for quite some time, it’s years since we last visited.

  36. Cordelia July 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    We are talking England, right? I had no idea the water was so …tropical looking!
    Beautiful photos my friend. I’m left feeling that…..I’m going to just dang it all and hop on a plane this afternoon. ; )

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      There are only a few places in England with sea this colour. And, ironically, the far north of Scotland, about as far from the Caribbean as you can get in the UK. I’d stay where you are, the weather’s far better!!

  37. Jay July 22, 2014 at 9:30 am - Reply

    What a stunning place, it looks almost too pretty to be real!

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      It must have been fantastic to actually live there, stroll down to the beach of a summer evening with a bottle of wine..

  38. Caro July 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    I know the area well but have never visited Trebar – I think I’ll have to plan a long solo holiday where I can visit all the wonderful gardens in Cornwall. Love your gorgeous photos, Jessica, and the way you’ve placed them in this post – lots of green and then a welcome glimpse of the sea on this hot sunny day I’m experiencing here – the beach photo is calling to my feet to come and paddle! The hydrangeas are an interesting indication of the soil in the garden in the way that there are blue and pink hydrangeas bang slap next to each other – curious but effective. I’m amazed that there were other people there, it looks as though you had the place to yourselves! Caro x

    • Jessica July 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm - Reply

      Does the variety of hydrangea determine the colour as much as the soil? It’s a question I’ve pondered often because I have pink, blue and everything in between here, also quite close together. I inherited the lot of them so I’ve no idea whether they are separate varieties or not.

  39. islandthreads July 30, 2014 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Jessica I’m late getting to reading this post but worth it, thanks for the virtual tour and glad you had such a nice day out, Frances

    • Jessica July 30, 2014 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      It was a great day out and we will go back. Plenty more to see in that neck of the woods. Thanks Frances.

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