Glendurgan Gardens // Helford

One of the great sub-tropical gardens of the South-West on the Helford Estuary.

Glendurgan is a National Trust property, close to the village of Mawnan Smith and not far from the lovely reaches of the Helford river. The beautifully designed garden is set in a valley, which runs down to the pretty fishing village of Durgan.

Perhaps the best-known feature of this garden is the laurel maze, which was originally planted in 1833 and was modelled on the maze of Sydney Gardens in Bath. The maze has been completely pruned and renovated over the last thirty years, and a Victorian style summerhouse has been reconstructed at the centre.

Much of the tree planting, such as that of the wonderful old tulip trees, was carried out around the 1830s but the present gardens owe more to the addition of many conifers and shrubs by George Henry Fox, who inherited the property in 1890. A wide range of species has been added since then and now many of these are at their best.

The garden boasts various species of rhododendron, magnolias, camellias and hydrangeas. There are also persimmon, oleasters and aloes. Perhaps one of the most attractive features of these gardens is the way in which many open stretches have been retained, where wild flowers cluster beneath individual trees.

Glendurgan was once famous for its orchards and there were said to be 78 varieties of apple alone in the middle of the 19th century. This was in addition to other types of fruit, including peaches and nectarines. More recently the Bog Garden has been developed in the small valley to the west. This now features many marsh loving plants. Several other thematic gardens include Holy Corner which features trees and shrubs associated with the Bible. Among these are an olive, a yew, a tree of heaven, a Judas tree and a tree of thorns. The garden is one of the best known sub-tropical gardens in Cornwall featuring bamboo, tree ferns and many more exotics. There is a small beach at Durgan and it is possible to take a ferry across to Helford village. The cob and thatch schoolroom has been recently reconstructed. The main house, which has extensive views over the valley and gardens, is privately occupied.

For more information on the house and gardens visit the National Trust's Glendurgan web page or telephonefor opening times on 01326 250906