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How are your gardens growing?


It’s August and mine is doing surprisingly well! Can I tell you about the gardens that blooming all around me? Do you remember the middle of February when we experienced what living in Cornwall was preferably not about? A once-in-twenty-years, raging east wind roared across the Channel with the viciousness of a vexed Valkyrie rampaging and ravaging tender plants that languished above ground; delicate orleander, echium, aeoniums, aloes, hibiscus and protea were decimated in the aftermath to blackened, frost-scorched slime.

Amazingly, the early summer warmth was kind, and apart from echium which have disappeared from the village, although I’m pretty sure will have self-seeded in places where I don’t want a 6’ plant blocking my view, and we are surrounded by the manifestation of nature having been challenged, consequently producing even more lovely displays than usual; from the elegant, Madonna’s-robe blue agapathus to the overblown, Barbara Cartland-pink hydrangea, I can’t recall having seen blooms so prolific.

We, and our gardens, thrive on Gulf Stream warmth and we grow, with indifferent arrogance, plants native to Madeira, Spain and Portugal; just bung ‘em in, wish them well and off they shoot without a second thought of the English climate. The village faces towards the sea in a south-easterly direction and sheltered from the harsh winds, creates a micro-climate in which tender plants delight and flourish in the moist, warm air that skims the ocean without touching land since the Azores. I am surrounded by gardens which are different with individually beguiling features, but equally, all of which have the common thread of ’Cornishness’ which has to be experienced to be recognised.

Some gardens have been planted from new, while others have been rescued from neglected wilderness. One charming garden hides away, concealed from the coastal path and nestling in a valley vibrant with butterflies and wild flowers; a brook babbles and feeds a prolific garden of vegetables growing along indigenous hosta and giant gunnera. This particular garden is a short walk across a couple of meadows to the open-air exhibition of internationally renowned sculptor Terence Coventry.

Another garden ambles down steeply terraced paths to the water’s edge, with sheltered areas and running water, creating an ambience of calm meditation with stone carvings emulating the tranquility of a Buddhist temple, while up the lane, a riot of brilliantly perfumed gaudiness jumbles and tumbles over the granite hedge. Different yet again, is an Edwardian house with a stunning beach front garden and lawns which has been restored to the relaxed elegance of its time, contrasting with a woodland refuge rich with wild life where the recent planting of a fern pit revealed some of the garden’s original specimen plants from when it was first laid out in the 1920’s.

Cornish gardens dither on the cusp of wild and cultivated, in a perpetual tug of war with the countryside constantly reclaiming what we have tamed. However, Tim Smit’s, of Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan fame, opinion that, ’ A garden is a symbol of mans’ arrogance, perverting nature to human ends’, isn’t my view; I prefer Mahatma Gandhi’s, “To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”

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Very poetic my friend- out of the despair and bleakness of winter comes the promise of another summer of garden enjoyment and fruitfullness!

3 Aug, 2009


Enjoyed that :o)

3 Aug, 2009


Now you'll have to get the camera out, having whetted our appetites and stirred our imaginations! :-)

4 Aug, 2009


I used to go mackerel fishing on the little boats with my father in Cornwall when I was little - very fond and memorable memories.

4 Aug, 2009

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