Online Open Gardens series - The Lodge

Online Open Gardens series - The Lodge

Due to the coronavirus lockdown, some Open Garden events have needed to be cancelled. In this online Open Gardens series, we will be speaking with with those who open up their gardens for the fundraiser so you can 'visit' digitally!
The Lodge Map

Tony was due to open his magnificent garden at The Lodge on 17th May to raise money for Cornwall Wildlife Trust as part of our annual Open Gardens series. The garden is the result of years of hard work, with feature now being stunning water garden of several ponds, lakes and streams.

In this Q&A, the second of our online Open Gardens series during the pandemic, Tony tells us a bit more about his garden.

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How long have you lived in the house?

I’ve been here 22 years. We bought the house a year after moving to Cornwall from the Cotswolds. My passion has always been gardening but in the Cotswolds the climate wasn’t ideal and the garden was too small, so Cornwall beckoned due to its milder winters, fewer droughts and acidic soil. I knew Cornwall from holidaying down here as a child, with my first trip being to Fowey in 1947.

When moving here, the garden was the main priority. We were initially looking for a neglected garden we could restore – something like a mini Heligan. We spent a while looking for something like that but eventually a good friend told us “you should just create your own – you’ll only want to make changes to something else anyway”. So that’s what we did. We found a cottage (a former lodge on the Glynn estate) with a reasonable amount of unused land and pretty much started from scratch.

What have you done to the garden since living there?

There wasn’t much here except an acer and some azaleas, so the first priority was clearing land and landscaping. We had to dig out the hill behind the house to create space, light and air. It was a massive task that took the best part of seven years on-and-off! All the stone from the clearance was recycled into retaining walls to prop up the hillside we dug into, while the soil was used to create manageable areas elsewhere. Thankfully, while all this was going on we were able to plant in a smaller area nearby so we did have some sort of garden to enjoy while the bigger work was ongoing.

Since digging into the hill, the largest piece of work has probably been putting in a water garden. One of the reasons for choosing the property was that it had running water, which we wanted to be integral to the garden’s design. We started the water garden in 2006 with the last lake being filled in 2018. It now has two lakes and three ponds, all connected by a series of streams.

More recently, I’ve been installing a series of abstract sculptures, some of which are kinetic, so they move with the wind.

The Lodge trees

The Lodge trees

How did / do you decide what plants to grow in your garden?

The core criteria for which plants to grow were basically personal preference, climate and what suits the landscape.

I love camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons, so they all had to have a place. I also wanted to pick plants that would provide colour throughout the year. I have many varieties of magnolia, which between them flower from February through to October, and lots of cornus varieties, which bloom at different points. There’s also a tree called hoheria; a species that’s quite rare of Cornwall. I have six or seven which have masses of scented flowers in July and August.   

Due to the lakes and ponds, another key consideration when choosing plants is what they’d look like as a reflection. All the different shades and shapes look glorious glimmering on the water.

What’s happening in your garden now?

There’s so much that’s starting to come through beautifully (magnolias, abutilons, rhododendrons etc.) but the bluebells have been looking particularly magnificent and if were opening this weekend, I think that’s what most visitors would comment on.

In regards to wildlife, I’ve seen maybugs, bees, a pheasant, ducklings and, for the first time in around 20 years, heard a cuckoo!


What are your favourite plants in your garden and why?

I’m not sure I have any particular favourite plants but I do so enjoy the water garden. It’s an absolute joy with the wildlife constantly changing and trees, shrubs and everything else reflecting on its surfaces.

Why did you agree to be part of Open Gardens 2020?

I opened my garden several times last year and it’s just so thrilling to have people come and enjoy the place; its tranquillity and wildlife.  

How have you used your garden in the current crisis? Has it helped? If so, how?

With other activities limited, I’m in the garden more than I have been in years! I’m spending about six to ten hours in the garden - I just love being out there and, for the first time ever, I can see that I might actually get on top of everything that needs doing!

Rhododendron (Sappho)

Rhododendron (Sappho)


Please help protect Cornwall’s wildlife and wild places

Thanks to the commitment of volunteers and garden hosts, Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Open Gardens series raises much needed funds for our work, securing over £20,000 in 2019 alone. Due to the pandemic, these funds are unlikely to be raised in 2020, putting the future of our work at risk.