Glendurgen and Trebah Gardens are right round the coast near Falmouth but are located within just a few hundred metres of each other so it possible to visit them both on the same day, although both have enough to do in them to last all day.
Glendurgen is a National Trust property so can be entered for free if you are a member. Alternatively, if you have your Great Gardens of Cornwall leaflet stamped you can get a few pounds off the entrance fee. Again there are trails for the children to follow but there are other attractions within the garden to keep children amused too. The most obvious of these is the hedge maze in the middle of the garden. Not only is this a very attractive feature, it is an irresistible lure for children to pit their wits against. It isn’t at all easy to find your way to the centre but it is achievable – just don’t attempt it if you are in a rush!
In April the rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias make a dazzling display of colours and are simply beautiful, along with the primroses, anemones and irises at ground level. Follow the garden along any path and you will inevitably work your way downhill to Durgen Village and through that to a small beach along the shore of the Helston River. This is a great place to skim some stones or stop for refreshments.
From here the only way is up and you work your way back through the garden along a different path but with numerous benches dotting around the site it is easy to find a spot to rest and appreciate the view. Finally the path will lead back to the gift shop, plant sale and tea room at the head of the garden where you can look back down through the impressive planting to the view one last time.
Being in such close proximity of Glendurgen and Trebah gardens, it is hardly surprising that there is a very similar feel to the two gardens. Both run down gorges to beaches at the bottom and have similar planting. That said, don’t think that visiting one means it isn’t worth visiting the other because they are both so beautiful and worth seeing. Trebah has won best garden for the last couple of years and it is one of my most favourite places in the country.
Trebah Garden is privately owned but has a fairly reasonable entrance fee, particularly as children get in for only £3 each. The Great Gardens of Cornwall leaflet gets a pound off each paying adult price so is worth using.
Trebah is famous for its hydrangea garden, which looks amazing in the summer when in full colour. In spring there is little evidence of this garden but this matters little with your eye being constantly caught by the beautiful reds and pinks of the rhododendrons and camellias. In contrast to Glendurgen, Trebah has a closer density of planting, which leads to a more jungly feel. I particularly like the Koi Pond and the Water Garden, with a reel running downhill to the equally stunning “Bamboozal” bamboo garden. With bamboo only really featuring in my garden to hold up bean plants, it is lovely to see them growing, to see the different varieties and to appreciate their amazing rates of growth.
The gunneras are also a site to behold. In the summer their enormous leaves are completely unfurled and fill the valley but in April they are just beginning to grow. Their leaves have a vibrant lime green tinge in spring and have weird, alien looking flowers and vicious spiky stems and they look so other-world-like that I find it hard to take my eyes off them.
The private beach at the bottom of the garden is a delightful place for a change of scenery and maybe a spot of afternoon tea too. We paused here for ice-creams before my girls borrowed buckets and spades from those on loan from the tea room and went and dug in the gravely sand. Then it was time to wind our way back up the hill, through the camellias and home.