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Posts Tagged ‘foxgloves’

I have visited Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, several times. On those visits I spent much time, both day and evening, in the famed Butchard Gardens near to the town of Victoria. But this time, we visited the private garden of our friends; a garden lovingly carved from a bare block of land; a garden of peace and the joy of plants.

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The central feature of this garden is a Lily Pond. Most rooms of the house look out across this peaceful pond to a landscape of an inlet of water and to the mountains beyond.

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While I wandered in the garden, camera in hand, David talked to our friend about the plants in her garden and how they had designed the garden from a bare field.

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A hand hewn stream lent a gentle, bubbling sound to the ambience.

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A wide variety of well known flowers gave colour and shape to the design.

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I won’t attempt to name them all… I’d like you to just wander with me, taking our time to really see them individually and enjoy their beauty.

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We’ll wander in the gardens and woodlands behind the house next time.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

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At every turn along the winding, narrow roads across the moors of Southern Cornwall in June, there were wildflowers in abundance.  Sometimes, they grew so prolifically that they swept along each side of the car as we passed by.

P1150443  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150443 © JT of jtdytravels

With little traffic, we were able to stop often and enjoy their rain drenched beauty.

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P1150445  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150445 © JT of jtdytravels

The effect of raindrops on foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea, is just stunning.

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P1060370  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060370 © DY of jtdytravels

Spring had come late to Cornwall, so bluebells were still in flower.  These native bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, are often seen in Spring in the UK in woodlands, hedges and other shady places.  These are not the same as the blue bells grown in gardens, Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica, although those can be found in the countryside when careless people dump them.

The easiest way to tell the difference between native and non-native bluebells, I’m reliably informed by the Natural History Museum in London,  is to look at the colour of the pollen.  “If it is creamy white then the bluebell is a native.  If it is any other colour, such as pale green or blue, then it is definitely not native.”

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P1060372  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060372 © DY of jtdytravels

Buttercups were everywhere bringing a touch of sunshine even on dull days.

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P1150451  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150451 © JT of jtdytravels

The most common of all roadside flowers are the fluffy white heads of cow-parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris.  This member of the umbelifferous carrot family is also known as Wild Chervil, Wild Beaked Parsley and Queen Anne’s Lace.

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P1150361 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150361 © JT of jtdytravels

Our wanderings brought us back out to the coast road at the tiny village of Zennor, on the coast not far north of Levant mine.   Here we found an excellent place for lunch; a back packer’s hostel with freshly made food.  Next door is the Wayside Museum; a very good, small, family run museum that has over 5,000 artefacts dating from the Bronze Age to the 1950s.  Items are well displayed with good descriptions to help the visitor understand something of life over the centuries along this southern Cornish Coast.

The museum contains Trewey Mill, restored and working again after 150 years of neglect.  On certain days of the year this Corn Mill still grinds wheat and oats  – not, unfortunately, on the day we were there.  In UK wheat is known as corn and that can be somewhat confusing to those of us from Australia.  If you remember poetry and prose from your school days about waving corn… think wheat!  And those corn dollies were made of wheat or oats.  Before the advent of the corn mill, meal was ground from grain using these querns (above).  Hard work for small results but then not too many people could afford great quantities of grain.

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P1150399 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150399 © JT of jtdytravels

The museum is housed in the buildings of a 16th Century Miller’s cottage.  People were much shorter in stature in those days judging by this door.  It was indeed low!

The single storey house with a thatched roof, was built in 1513, in the reign of King Henry VIII.  It housed the family who worked the mill which at that time was a ‘fulling mill’ for making cloth.  When the mill changed to grinding flour is not known but two of the old grinding stones have been used in the floor of the kitchen (just inside this door).  These stones went past their use by date as mill stones but found a new use as flooring.  They have been part of this floor for over 200 years and show barely a sign of wear.  Modern flooring doesn’t last quite so long.

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P1150409  © JT  of jtdytravels

P1150409 © JT of jtdytravels

Grinding the flour was only the first part of the task of making the daily bread or pasties.   Most of the miners and poorer people’s houses would have had a ‘cloan’ or ‘cloam’ oven for baking.  (Spelling was not a high priority.)  Made of earthenware, these were portable ovens.  They were used from the early 1600s and were still being made in Cornwall in1937.  (David wants one!)

Dried furze or gorse, of which there’s an abundant supply on the moors, was put into the oven and lit.  When white hot, the furze would be pulled out – carefully one would hope.  Maybe the stone floor was an advantage!  The food to be baked was placed in the oven, a door placed in front and the cooking process occurred using latent heat.  I grew up learning to cook on a wood fuel stove so I knew something of the vagaries of this method of cooking.

Now, when cooking in a cloam oven, it was quite likely that the bread would burn on the bottom.  A file or rasp was used to grate off the blackened bits.  When serving bread, it was always polite to give the top piece to those socially ‘above you’ and from that we get the English expression, “Upper Crust”.  The bottom piece, with the blackened bits filed off, would be given to your own family.  And, I suspect from my reading that, within the family, the upper crust usually went to the husband with the bottom bits to the children and wife.  There were, and always are, hierarchies in any society.

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P1150364  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150364 © JT of jtdytravels

One of the items in this museum that fascinated and horrified me was this man trap.  These were used by land owners in the 18th and 19th centuries to discourage poachers.  The penalty for being caught in one of these was not just a very sore leg.  The culprit would be deported to the colonies, usually for life, or sentenced to death by hanging, and that was usually an event for witnessed by large local crowds.  It was quite an event.

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P1150391  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150391 © JT of jtdytravels

Others went to the colony of Australia more willingly, lured by the prospect of free passage and work when they got there.  We came across many such posters in small museums in Cornwall.  Transportation to Australia of so many young men to the colonies had left several ‘holes’ in the demographics of those developing communities. They were short of marriageable single women, skilled young workers and families who would add a sense of community to the growing colonies.  A great many Australians have forbears who answered this call to emigrate, not just from Cornwall but from other parts of England, Scotland and Ireland; many of David’s family among them.  Poor living conditions in the UK at that time were the ‘push factor’ for emigration and posters like these provided a very strong ‘pull factor’.  No one readily leaves their home, their family and their country forever without both of these factors being strong.

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P1160310  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels com

P1160310 © JT of jtdytravels com

And when people did emigrate, it was usually for life.  Their only contact with families was by post and those letters often took months to be delivered.  When it was time to leave the museum, we drove on across the moors along narrow roads that were once just tracks walked by the postmen and women of the moors who brought just such letters and parcels in all weathers and all seasons to the isolated hamlets and farms of the moors.

From notes at the museum we learned that some of these people were easy going, like Postman Bryant, who would stop for a cup of tea and a chat in various houses and even visit the pub on the way.  He would, no doubt, relay the gossip and the news that had come from across the other side of the world.  Others, like Postman Renowden, was a crotchety old thing nicknamed Mr Grumps.  He waited for no-one.  He was often helped by Willy Spry, a very small chap with a peaked cap and turned out feet.  Willy was always tied to a lead and led along by Mr Grumps so that he would not lag behind!

But it wasn’t just men who carried the post.  There are many stories of post women like Old Mrs Kitty White, Mrs Whelan and Annie Christopher, the latter a ‘grand old soul’ and a great story teller who wore long black skirts and hob nailed boots to walk many miles a day with the post.

It’s the stories of individuals like these who make the history of any place come to life.  We were very thankful that some of the stories of the Cornish coast have been recorded before they are lost forever.

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P1150446 ©  Jt  of jtdytravels

P1150446 © Jt of jtdytravels

Today, not many people walk these roads, still fewer ride horses or drive pony traps.  It’s cars, vans and sometimes trucks that drive across these moorland roads now and they were never really meant for vehicles.  Driving here becomes even more challenging when the hedges become higher.  Wondering what might be coming around the corners can be fun.  We even met the local garbage truck on one of these roads.  Lots of backing up!  But everyone is patient and considerate and it’s never a real problem.  And eventually you do come out onto a wider road that leads to a town.  From here, we turned east to visit coastal towns on the other side of the southern Cornish peninsular; Penzance, Newlyn and the improbably named Mousehole – places where some of David’s forbears had also lived.

More of that anon

Jennie and David

Photography copyright ©  JT and DY  of jtdytravels

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One of the best known features of Trelissick is its collection of Rhododendrons which come into their own in Spring.  Many of them continue to flower into late Spring and we were able to enjoy these, the very essence of a Cornish garden it seems to me.

P1150148  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150148 © JT of jtdytravels

One of the best Rhododendron species to grow well in the upper part of the garden, where the ground is thinner and drier, is the rich red ‘Gwilt King’, a hybrid of Rhododendron griersonianum.

P1060262   ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060262 © DY of jtdytravels

When a touch of sunlight catches these flowers, they seem to glow.

P1150140  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150140 © JT of jtdytravels

There were still plenty of new flowers to come even in mid June.

P1060267  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060267 © DY of jtdytravels

Rhododendron buds are elegant and deserve just as close a look as the more showy flowers.

P1150196  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150196 © JT of jtdytravels

Along the Rhododendron walk, we found this moss covered seat.  Whenever I find such an empty seat, I’m reminded of UK friends who enjoyed exploring gardens with me in years gone by but who are now no longer here for me to sit and have a chat with.  I love the memories of the good times we spent together in gardens such as these and am grateful for those special times of friendship.

P1150141  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150141 © JT of jtdytravels

Walking on, we found several other Rhododendron species in flower.  Many of these were brought to Trelissick Gardens from the famous Bodnant Gardens in north Wales by Ida and Ronald Copeland when they lived here.  I don’t know their species names but each and every one of them was a delight.  I hope you enjoy our photos of a selected few of them.

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P1150199 ©  JT  of jtdytravels

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P1150153  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150153 © JT of jtdytravels

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P1150195 © JT of jtdytravels

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P1150190  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150190 © JT of jtdytravels

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P1150128   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150128 © JT of jtdytravels

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P1150198   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150198 © JT of jtdytravels

As well as Rhododendrons, there were still some azaleas in flower.

P1150084   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150084 © JT of jtdytravels

My favourite is the Mollis Azalea. It reminds me of my wonderful Mum!

P1060253  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1060253 © DY of jtdytravels

Other trees in flower were Cornus, or Dogwoods.

P1060253   ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060253 © DY of jtdytravels

Have you ever really looked at the centre of a Dogwood flower?

P1150122   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150122 © JT of jtdytravels

In amongst the borders are plants like Aquilegia, cottage garden and border essentials with their delicate nodding flowers and delightful lacy foliage which is a rare blue-green colour. They are a beautiful foil for other larger, heavier plants and , although the fresh foliage starts growing in early spring, the flowers develop just in time to fill in when spring flowers begin to fade.

They are commonly known as Columbines or, a name I love for these beauties, Granny’s Bonnets . 

P1060190  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060190 © DY of jtdytravels

This delicately petalled Roscoea cautleyoides is another Asian plant that’s grown in this garden.  Although it’s a member of the ginger family, which has mostly tropical species, this plant comes from the mountain regions of  Sichuan and Yunann provinces. 

P1150070  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150070 © JT of jtdytravels

Another delicate white flower is the bell of Polygonatum or Solomon’s Seal.  Once classified as a member of the Lily family, this plant is now classified as a member of the family Asparagaceae.  It’s hard to keep up with these classification changes at times!

P1150082  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150082 © JT of jtdytravels

Most Cornish gardens make some use of the lovely Astrantia along the borders of the garden.

The flowers range from white to a deep wine red.

P1150082  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150082 © JT of jtdytravels

If we look closely we’ll see that this one has a visitor – a tiny green beetle.

P1060249  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1060249 © DY of jtdytravels

Another plant used to great effect in this garden’s borders is the Geranium, commonly known in UK as Cranesbill.

I love the veined petals. There are many colours for gardeners to use and they flower for a long period.

P1150052  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150052 © JT of jtdytravels

A flower that adds a wonderful dash of colour to any border is Alstroemeria commonly called Peruvian Lily.

P1150201  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150201 © JT of jtdytravels

Time was getting away from us and, reluctantly, we followed this man and his grandson back to the carpark. I hope they had enjoyed their Trelissick experience as much as we had done.  But we still had a long way to go to Sennen Cove near Lands End where we were to stay for the next three nights.

Apart from visiting a quiet Cornish beach for the weekend, our goal in going to that southern part of Cornwall was to learn more about the kind of lives lived by David’s forbears working in the tin and copper mines from the 1600s to the 1850s when some of them made the big decision to emigrate to Australia.

More of that story anon.

Jennie and David

All photography copyright ©  Jt and Dy of jtdytravels

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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.

P1150187  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1150187 © JT of jtdytravels

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.

P1150048  ©   JT  of  jtdytravels

P1150048 © JT of jtdytravels

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.

P1060171©  DY of jtdytravels

P1060171© DY of jtdytravels

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.

P1150057  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150057 © JT of jtdytravels

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

Purple iris were brilliant against the greens.

P1060185  ©  DY  of jtdtravels

P1060185 © DY of jtdtravels

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.

P1150055   ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1150055 © JT of jtdytravels

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

P1150076   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150076 © JT of jtdytravels

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

P1150063   ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150063 © JT of jtdytravels

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.

P1150193  ©  JT of jtdytravels

P1150193 © JT of jtdytravels

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.

P1150146  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150146 © JT of jtdytravels

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.

P1060236   ©  DY of jtdytravels

P1060236 © DY of jtdytravels

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.

P1150151  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150151 © JT of jtdytravels

 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.

P1150174  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150174 © JT of jtdytravels

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.

P1150163  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1150163 © JT of jtdytravels

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.

P1150177   ©  Jt  of  jtdytravels

P1150177 © JT of jtdytravels

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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