On our last day in Cornwall we weren’t quite sure what to expect. We knew from our itinerary that we were visiting Tregothnan, the home of the United Kingdom’s only tea plantation, and that we were to have a tour of the gardens. What we weren’t expecting was a glorious walk around a magnificent private botanical collection and arboretum in over 100 acres, open only to the public on private guided tours with the charming Head Gardener Neil Bennett, a man whose love and passion for his job radiates out of every pore.
As we wandered through the extensive gardens, with their profusion of Camellias, Magnolias and the biggest Rhododendrons in the world, we looked down shady paths, rested a moment in peaceful groves, peered through leafy fronds at opening vistas, and looked down to the river Fal over the castle parterre.
The garden is continually evolving: Plants from trips to Japan and South America in 2007 have been added and a glorious Camellia maze planted. When we visited a few weeks back, two new areas were under construction: a Southern Hemisphere Collection to make the Wollemi pine feel at home, and the peony garden above. )The path is made from slices of wood from trees fallen on the estate.)
We were too early for the bluebell grove (above), but it will be out this weekend, I believe. Below is the door into the original tea plantation (the present kitchen garden). The door is the only part that remains from the castle’s sacking during the English Civil War in the 17th Century.
We finished off our tour with a cream tea – with Tregothnan tea of course - in this little Edwardian folly.
We were there just to visit the historical botanical collection, but there is also a shop selling Tregothnan produce: Cornish-grown teas, herbal infusions and plants, a very popular tea room, (Smugglers and The Tea Bar at Tolverne).
And it’s dog friendly: here is Pottles, (wearing her special muzzle):
The Tregothnan Estate also has a flourishing ethical and local floristry business, that delivers lovely flowers throughout the UK, and I wrote about it here.