Trenarth is a sprawling garden that brings joy to wildlife and people alike. The garden was due to open to supporters this Sunday 4th of August. Trenarth would have helped to raise money for Cornwall Wildlife Trust as part of our annual Open Gardens series but due to coronavirus, has been unable to open. This week, owner Lucie Nottingham tells us all about this haven for wildlife.
Online Open Garden Series - Trenarth
We moved to Trenarth in 1994, the garden and house needed a lot of attention, so clearing started soon after that. The granite farmhouse sits comfortably facing south in a wonderful pastoral setting surrounded by countryside on all sides, with no road in sight or sound, so ideal for wildlife. It had also good "bones", garden walls and yew hedging. The garden is a "push me pull you garden", according to the interest/ enthusiasm/finances of current owners. I have to say it has certainly been "pushed" into the countryside in the past 26 years, so now covers about 4 acres.
The garden has grown organically, there has been no overall plan, nor it has been said aims. I suppose looking back the main overall challenge was of growing a wide variety plants well, in the right conditions of soil, protection and aspect, so that they look "comfortable", and as if they have been growing there naturally.
Thus providing enjoyment at many levels, for friends, family and visitors and for all the senses, sight, sound, scent, and touch.
Permanent structures and hedging and trees in the garden provide variety and form, as well as surprises, and quirkiness and humour are never far away, bus stop?, post box, telephone box?
There are also a large number of seats round the garden to sit and enjoy the views, this had been particularly relevant during these past few months when additional time has provided opportunities to enjoy and take stock in wonderful locations, we are so lucky.
Growing difficult specimens - getting mistletoe to grow in the orchard was a big challenge, the walls and mild climate mean hardiness boundaries have again been pushed. So yes, creating a plants man's garden. Being by nature a "collector"has its challenges, space not often being a limiting factor! Plants come from friends, nurseries, plant stall, from far and near. Gardeners are universally generous, and so going round the garden is like a trip round old friends, seeing plants shared. It is always a disappointment if I cannot persuade (coerce!) visitors to take a plant, seeds or cuttings home with them. There is a large "graveyard" of old plant labels, testimony also to many failures! The planting is designed to provide year round interest not only from colourful flowers, but equally important interesting bark and shapes in winter, buds and new foliage in spring and summer, and berries and colourful foliage in the autumn.
So in summer enjoy banks of white Romneya, the Californian poppy, hydrangea in variety lining the drive, akebia fruit dangling like plums on the pergola,roses in bed, against walls and grown through hedges, and above all a gravel area full of agapanthus, tulbaghia and many self seeded dierama, Angels fishing rods swaying in the breeze. Soon the herbaceous beds will spring into action.
Managing and planting wildflowers, violets, ladies smock, ox eye daisies and so on, with particular ongoing failures of honesty and orchids!
Plants grown for butterflies and moths, insects and bees. Wild bees live in an old oak trunk bole in the medieval green lane which leads from the farm down through the woods to the Helford.
Hedges and trees planted, for protection and wildlife, using local seeds and seedlings where possible. The sweet chestnuts from a 200 year old tree have provided several specimen trees round the garden. Some hedge row elms are regrowing, now at various stages, some 30 feet high or more, but their future is uncertain. I plan to plant some so called immune ones. There seem to be increasing problems with diseases in plants with international trade and travel and climate change.
An orchard with damsons, apples and pears, plus the exciting find only last year of three mature kea plum trees growing in a hedgerow of a field. A very productive vegetable garden within the old walled farm garden, with an allied potting shed. The nearby bee hive is great for pollination.
A cellar full of a lesser horseshoe bats maternity roost shared amicably with several nests of swallows, so rather overcrowded in the summer!
A great variety of birds visit the garden year round, bird baths and feeders are heavily used. The wide range of habitats, including a farm pond, provide opportunities for most species, including woodpeckers, tits in variety, nuthatches, finches and so on, though ironically the great British Bird Watch survey result usually finds a dearth!
We also share the garden, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, with mammals such as foxes , badgers, squirrels, rabbits and deer.
We have opened for the wildlife trust every summer for over 8 years now. It has always been a great pleasure to host such a wonderful band of volunteers and enthusiastic visitors. In the CWT photographic campaign about 5 years ago featuring various people and their reasons for supporting it, I appeared as " My Wildlife My Legacy"! The bus stop mentioned above tells the story, and indeed I will continue to support the CWT to provide this legacy for future generations.
Lucie Nottingham, Trenarth 2020