Archive for the ‘Gardens of the World’ Category

Set above the southern banks of the River Fal in Cornwall, Trelissick Gardens are large and park like. In a picturesque setting, they cover a peninsular of several hundred acres of contoured land.


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The garden has had many owners since its early days in the 1700s and each of them have made their own contribution to this garden. However, the greatest contributions have been made by Carew Gilbert in the late 1800s, Ida and Ronald Copeland from 1937 to 1995 and, since then, by the National Trust who now own the gardens. Three NT gardeners now take good care of the gardens with the help of volunteers (Friends of Trelissick) and students during their holidays.

The NT restored the orchard in the 1990s. It now contains 68 different apple trees, mainly Cornish varieties, and as such is a valuable asset to Cornish heritage. The grass in the orchard is left uncut in the summer to encourage wild flowers. Unfortunately we didn’t get to that part of the garden which must look good in any season with the spring apple blossoms, the summer wild flowers, the autumn apple harvest and then the tracery of the limbs in winter.


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Overlooking the visitor car park is the former water tower with its delightful squirrel weather vane.  Because the house and gardens are so far above the river, the water tower was built in about 1825 to pump water from the river.  Looking more like a fairy castle, this is now one of  five NT holiday cottages which can be rented on the estate. The house and gardens were given to the National Trust in 1955 with the proviso that future generations of the previous owners, the Copeland family, could live on in the house.

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For now, just the gardens are open to the public. The reception, cafe and shop are housed in former farm buildings giving a rustic feel to the entrance. Once inside, the first thing that greeted us on a cool June morning was the beautiful sight and smell of wisteria. This curtain of flowers was labled as Wisteria floribunda ‘Macrobotrys’, a plant that has been known in Japan for at least 400 years.

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Flower beds line the short entrance walk into the main gardens.

Purple iris were brilliant against the greens.


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The markings on this yellow iris are stunning and the furled bud is so elegant.

It always pays to stop and take a closer look.


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Colours, shapes and textures were carefully blended in the garden design.

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There were delightful small plants, too, like this Scilla peruviana.


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The main lawn spills down a slope to a border thick with trees and shrubs. In the centre of the lawn is a large Cryptomeria japonica, Japanese Cedar, planted in the garden in 1898 by the estate’s owner at that time, Carew Gilbert.


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Carew was a great traveller and brought back many exotic plants from Japan, southern Europe, North and South America. Many of the bigger specimen trees in the garden were planted in his time. This one dwarfs David. It’s magnificent.


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Paths run along the top of the slope with glimpses of the River Fal.

Above the river, at the top of the hill, is a glimpse of the Tregothnan Estate owned by Lord Falmouth’s family.

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A closer view of the large mansion at Tregothnan. In 1832, Lord Falmouth of Tregothnan bought Trelissick from the then owners, the Daniells. The cost of building a new house at Trelissick and a slump in mining had forced the Daniell family into bankruptcy. The house was unlived in and the gardens untended until 1844, when the estate was purchased by John Gilbert, father of the plant hunter, Carew Gilbert. Thankfully, a keen gardener had come to live on the estate and his plantings form the skeleton of the gardens today.


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 There is plenty of space in this garden to wander and unwind as you discover the great variety of plants that grow in the various micro climates formed by the topography of the garden and sheltered by those trees planted by Carew Gilbert.


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It’s a garden to be enjoyed in any season of the year although early spring and autumn must be the most spectacular.  We were there at the end of spring when the garden was filled with many different greens highlighted by an occasional splash of colour.


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Trelissick is a huge garden. It’s not a place to try to see in just one visit.

Those who live near by, can take it in a section at a time, a season at a time.

We would, if we could.


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At the end of an hour or so of enjoying the garden and its trees, we came upon a small NT gate house. From there, steps lead down to the River Fal and the ferry, a popular way for people to come to the garden from north of the river. There’s also a river side path that’s always freely open to the public. This path area is thickly planted to give the main garden protection from the wild Cornish winter winds.

We decided to take the river side woodland walk and go on through the farm, leaving more wandering in the main garden until the afternoon. We’ll show you something of that relaxing walk in our next episode about Trelissick and then we’ll come back to explore more of the garden after that.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels

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I left you wandering in the beautiful orchid gardens of the sleeping giant just off the road between Nadi and Lautoka. But there is much more to the Garden of the Sleeping Giant than just orchids – much more. It’s a tranquil place to walk on a hot day. Unfortunately we did not see it all, partly because of time constraints – we had to get back to the ship for our next island hopping adventure – and partly because cyclone Evan had badly damaged the forest. Much of it was closed to the public for the time being. I’m sure it will be open again soon for those who wish to walk through the forest to the top of the hill for the fine views that I am promised are there.


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The path we were able to walk was a board walk that led us down into a shady gully

where part of the jungle-like undergrowth had been cleared

to make a welcoming grassy patch.



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Small gardens of  tropical ground cover plants edge some of the ‘lawn’ area.

This part of the gardens is sometimes used for weddings.

A wedding ‘chapel’ is on the hill above here.



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In the forest, some of the older trees were just magnificent,

held into the ground with formidable roots.



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At the base of the gully is a lush lily pond.



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And where there’s a lily pond, there are usually lilies!


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I love the structure of a lily.  One of nature’s beautiful sculptures.



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Several beautiful red dragonflies made use of the lily leaf water pools.

Their gauzy wings are another delight of nature.



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Water iris are another delight found beside this pool.



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Nearby, there were tropical gingers in abundance.

I’ll leave you to enjoy them as we did.



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Too soon it was time to wend our way back up the board walk towards the entrance.



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On the way there was time to look back at the hills – and enjoy more orchids.



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Close to the entrance to the gardens is a delightful shaded ‘fern house’.



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Palms.  Again, one of nature’s masterpieces of sculpture.



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A small water ‘rill’ had been diverted through the fern house.

The sound of gently running water gave authenticity to the fern forest feeling.



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In this area, dashes of red and gold lifted the predominant greens.



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Shape and texture were also there to be enjoyed –

 if you took more than a cursory look.



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Just outside the fern house, a few bananas were in flower.

Aren’t they superb?  Well worth a close look.


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The entrance area is furnished with inviting, comfortable cane lounges.

Welcomed back with a cool drink, this is the place to rest awhile.



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Taxis arrived, and it was time to leave this delightful garden.



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It was time to drive back to Lautoka.

We were about to embark on another island hopping adventure.



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With some new passengers on board , we set sail for the Mamanuca Islands.

Arriving at a small coral cay,  we stopped to enjoy the late afternoon.

An hour of snorkelling was a great way to end  the day.



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On the horizon, though, clouds began to gather.

This is the tropics and afternoon storms are very frequent – and to be expected.


Now join us as we sail through the warm tropical waters.

Ahead of us, an interesting three days as we explore the small archipelago of the Mamanuca Islands.



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With the Fijian flag flying in the breeze,

we are on board Captain Cook Fiji’s exploration ship, the MV ‘Reef Endeavour’.

Why not join her sometime for your own Fiji adventure!

Jennie and David

All photography ©  JT and DY of jtdytravels


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The Orchid Garden of the Sleeping Giant was a complete contrast from the experiences we had been enjoying on our island hopping journey on ‘MV Reef Endeavour’.  Here, in a plantation of some 20 hectares, over 2,000 orchids are grown. Not all were on display, because the garden was still recovering from the cyclone, but there were enough to make for a magical walk through a lush green forest at the foot of the mountain of the Sleeping Giant.


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While predominately a show place for orchids, these gardens also contain many native Fijian plants,

as well as plants from other tropical areas.



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A welcome site at the garden entrance is this stunning Bismarckia Palm, endemic to Madagascar.

It really enjoys the hot wet summers and less wet winters of Fiji.



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The gardens were begun in the 1970’s by the late Canadian born actor, Raymond Burr, famous for his acting personas of Ironside and Perry Mason.  For Burr, Fiji was his second home, away from the Hollywood spotlight.  Apart from enjoying time on his secluded ‘hideaway’ on a small Fijian island, Burr and his partner, Robert Benevides, bought this plantation to house their private collection of orchids.



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Burr hybridised an estimated 1,500 varieties of orchids before he left Fiji in 1983.

Fortunately for visitors to Fiji, this garden has not only been maintained

but has been developed into one of the major orchid gardens of the world.



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The paths through this botanic wonderland enter through a mesh-covered walkway.

It’s lined with cultivated orchids growing in pots perched on rock walls.

They are surrounded by perennial epiphytes and other plants such as low growing ferns and gingers.



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While not all of the orchids were on show, there were indeed many to enjoy.



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They come in an amazing variety of colours and shapes and sizes – all beautiful.

 I’ll add a selection so that you can wander along this path with us.

We hope that you enjoy them as we did.



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The orchids also had a  large ‘supporting cast’ of delightful plants bedded amongst the rocks.



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The bright red flowers of Anthurium added a dash of colour amongst the greenery of ferns.



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Bromeliads were well represented too.



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Butterflies added to the delightful experience of wandering in this orchid rockery.



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But the real stars of this garden were the orchids. And there many more still to discover.



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Occasionally something unusual like this wasp takes the attention away from the orchids.



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After a leisurely wander through the orchid rockery, the path came to the top of a rise with an open vista towards the hills. Here there’s a delightful feeling of wildness, with the forested foothills of the Nausori Highlands in the distance. It’s these hills that give the garden its unusual name, as the corrugated ridge above the gardens is said to resemble the body of a sleeping giant.



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And from here, a boardwalk leads down into the cooler shade of the valley.

And we’ll explore that part of the gardens in the next episode.


All Photography ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels


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The classic view of Powerscourt looking down the immense staircase and across the gardens to the Wicklow mountains beyond.


There are wide lawns and formal gardens at the foot of the first part of the great staircase.


Formal rose gardens are set into the lawns on either side of the grand path.


The roses in these gardens were all either red or yellow.


Down another great set of steps, the large water lily covered pool is viewed through the symbols of Powerscourt, two winged horses.


The shell of the grand house of Powerscourt as seen from the far side of the pool.


Looking down into the ‘Japanese Garden’. It has some features of Japanese garden design but is very much a European garden.

A small rill and several small waterfalls are a feature of the “Japanese Garden’.


Another view looking down into this garden showing the Japanese style additions.. The view changes dramatically depending on whether you are down inside the garden or up on the edge.


Light and shade on the trunks of a grove of trees in another section of the garden – reached after a long climb up a hill in the park.


The long perennial borders in the walled gardens.


Evening or English Primrose makes a splash of colour in a predominantly green border. This may be seen as a common plant but the delicacy of its veins are beautiful.


As in most gardens we have seen, various types of geraniums are used as bed fillers in the long border gardens – each flower delicate and beautiful.


In amongst the more common plants are specimens like this prickly Eryngium.


Hydrangea villosa originates in China and is not the common garden Hydrangea. It’s totally deciduous and almost tree-like in form and flowers from late summer into autumn. It can withstand hot, dry conditions but, like us, was not so happy in the wet of this Irish summer!


This beautiful blue plant was unknown to us – and unlabelled in the garden.


The previous photo was just of the buds. Following our friend Ross’s clue that this was probably  a species of anaconitum or monkshood or maybe its a delphinium / larkspur.  I checked my photos again and found one with buds open. Together with the leaves shown in the previous photo it may be possible to make a more definite naming.


The sky – note the BLUE – and trees helped to set off the view of one end of the walled garden with its small pond.


Back on the house level is a formal garden – the ‘keep off the grass’ variety!


And on this level is a fairly extensive rose garden growing against a high and sheltering wall. The perfume was heady and at last some roses to really enjoy.


This rose has an apt Irish name – Whiskey Mac.


Back to the lawn in front of the house – the views are expansive of park and skies.


One of the features of this garden is the statuary.


Another, more classic view, of the gardens and the Wicklow mountains from the front of the house.


One of the less famous statues in Powerscourt gardens – a smaller, reflective style rather than the large brash ones used to make statements throughout this large park style garden.


And in quiet out of the way corners there is evidence of age and decay – such a huge old garden takes an enormous amount of maintenance.


A rain storm seen approaching over the cafe wing of the house sent us scurrying to put on our wet weather gear yet again and leave the gardens for a dry area – the plant nursery out near the car park.


Powerscourt has a fine nursery and garden shop – oh to have been able to take home some of these ready made hanging gardens! We have seen these in so many places throughout Ireland as people take great pride in their villages.


Choosing what we would buy if we could was fun. I loved this Hydrangea called ‘Bela’.


A small growing Cockscomb or Celosia called ‘Intenz’ was another favourite.

But no, we could look but not buy – and we will just take home our photos and our memories of a good day visiting this immense garden / park estate at Powerscourt near Dublin in Ireland.

J and A

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The River Vartry is the centrepiece running right through the Mount Usher Gardens.


Curved weirs are dotted along the river throughout the garden to keep the river ( and the garden) with good water flow at all times.


The sound of water is ever present as you wander in the gardens.


Away from the river are small garden ‘rooms’ and groves of mature trees like one of Australian Eucalypts – their barks making great abstract art.


Light and shade on the wonderful trunks of old rhododendron trees.


Almost every part of the world is represented in the garden. These Alstroemeria hail originally from South America – hence the common name Peruvian Lily.


Paths wander through various ‘rooms’ of the garden – always something new around every corner.


Lawns are not extensively used but they do add small areas to sit and enjoy the peace of the gardens.


Everywhere in this late garden of 22 acres there are the small things to enjoy – flowers of great beauty, like this campanula.


Another quiet oasis in this large garden.


A few roses had survived the wet weather – this one an unusual blue/purple shade.


There are many outstanding specimen trees like this Mexican Blue Pine, Pinus montezumae. This is but one branch of this enormous tree.


In quieter parts of the river, plants like hydrangeas are reflected.


Amongst the great and more famous plants are many beautiful examples of the humble daisies.


And always in this lovely garden, the River Vartry plays a key enhancing role.


I’ll add more about Mount Usher when I get home.  For now, I hope you have enjoyed this brief wander in this very special garden.  J

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A garden for taking your time and just wandering, Altamont Garden in County Carlow is still little known. There were few there to enjoy this quiet and relaxing garden with us. It’s a blend of formal and informal gardens located on a 100 acre estate. It deservedly ranks in the top ten of Irish gardens and is often referred to as ‘the jewel in Ireland’s gardening crown’. I’m glad we saw it before the busses start to arrive!

Lawns are bisected by sculpted yews sloping down to a large lake surrounded by rare trees, very old trees (some 500 years old), rhododendrons and shrubs. A profusion of roses, old fashioned and modern, lilies and herbaceous plants scent the air. A fascinating walk through the Arboretum, Bog Garden and Ice Age Glen with its canopy of ancient oaks leads to the majestic River Slaney.

Unfortunately for us, the wet weather made it impossible for us to do the river walk – it was closed. This would be yet another wonderful garden to visit in the spring time – anytime it is special. 

The decaying manor house at Altamount adds an air of mystery to these lovely gardens.


No-one lives here now except for a couple of peacocks.


The path from the house leads to a formal garden of roses and lillies.


Many of the roses were rain damaged but some were still pristine.


The large bloomed ‘Common Primrose’ had seeded itself in many places.


A wide variety of geraniums are used to great effect in the gardens.


At the bottom of the garden is an extensive lake covered in water lillies and surrounded by mature trees and bushes.


Down by the lake we found this baby robin – willing to sit still for its portrait.


Even more varieties of geranium were used by the path near the lake… this one is spectacular. It’s A’s favourite. Can anyone name this one?


Beyond the lake is a walk through a small aboretum.


Some of the trees are very old indeed – up to 500 years old- and huge!


The forest track arrives eventually at the other end of the lake.


It was here that we found the only dogwood that we have seen in any of the gardens we have visited so far.


From there we walked back up to the house across the wide lawns.


Beyond the house is the walled garden filled with perennials.


One side off the garden is biased towards red flowering plants, the other towards blue.


There was one plant that neither of us had ever seen before… Monarda didyma; the herb Bergamot.

Thanks Ross, Donata and Michelle for the name. We’re so pleased to have such learned horticulturists as friends!

Don’t worry – there will to be more plants to be named as we start to write up all the gardens we have seen!

We are both good on colour, texture, shape and beauty of the flowers we photograph – but not so good on names!


All but one poppy had been wind and rain damaged. This was the survivor!


The walled garden ends in a small pond and many more geraniums are used.


Another variety of geranium – all of them beautiful.


Where the vegetable garden would have been in days gone by there is now a very well stocked nursery selling plants – if only we could have bought some!


After almost three hours of happy wandering in this lovely garden – it began to rain… and so it was time to go and find somewhere for a very late lunch.

This is but a small sample of the plants and views that we had in this large and well kept garden. It belongs now to the people of Ireland and amazingly entry is free. We’d recommend it to any one living in Ireland or coming to Ireland.

J and A

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Castle of the Ferocious O’Flaherty Clan!

On our way south from the Connemara, we stopped off at a secluded old castle – found down a 2km winding narrow track.  It was at one time the fortress and home of the war like, ferocious O’Flaherty clan. We climbed up the winding stairs of the tower and decided that life in such a castle was definitely not for us – not then, not now!

O’Flaherties in action

Even much larger and better trained armies were afeared of the O’Flaherties. They were known as ‘the battle-axes’

A depiction of a hunt in the castle interpretive tower.

Even the wildlife had to be afeared of the O’Flaherties.

A modern day ferocious O’Flaherty pig!

In what is left of the castle’s old banquet hall we first heard and then saw this ferocious O’Flaherty pig. It shares the area with a fairly timid grey horse and it gives the poor horse a hard time. It would be best made into bacon!

Entrance to Brigit’s Garden – donated shoes filled with plants.

Our second wander off the main road on Saturday took us down yet another narrow winding lane that brought us to Brigit’s garden – an unusual garden run by volunteers as a place of peace and meditation. Many who have felt the magic peace of this place have donated a shoe that becomes part of the garden’s decoration. I’ve no idea why!

‘Spring” Garden at Brigit’s Garden

There are four main sections of the garden each representing a season of the year. This one with the lovely bronze leaved sculpture representing birth is for spring. Each section is surrounded by wildflower meadows.

Garden dedicated to St Brigit.

The central section is dedicated to St Brigit with a more formal flower bed that’s surrounded by fruit trees.

The herb and medicinal plant garden

Another area of the garden is dedicated to culinary and medicinal uses for herbs and other plants.

It’s definitely a different type of garden but one that we enjoyed.

Wellington Boot plant pots.

We thought the wellington boots were an appropriate symbol for this trip to Ireland!  We have often wished that we had some as our walking shoes have often been saturated.  But shoes do dry out – and so do feet and socks.

A and J

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