Sunday, 30 March 2014

Glendurgan, Cornwall

Welcome to Glendurgan, another of 'The Great Gardens of Cornwall'. This sub-tropical garden was made by members of the Fox family, prominent Cornish Quakers, who between them evolved four unique gardens in Cornwall. Since posting, Patricia at Red Cardinal has mentioned the fun element of the foxes on the wall. Her comment was a 'lightbulb moment' as I now realise the bronze statues are an obvious reference to the Fox family - something that eluded me, so thank you Patricia.  
Can you imagine how you would keep a very large family of children entertained, amused and occupied in 1820?  The solution for Alfred and Sarah Fox was to create Glendurgan with their 12 children in mind. It was a garden designed for exploration, fun, and to have adventures in. To this extent they created the now famous laurel maze and the giant's stride, which resembles a very large maypole that children can swing out and around on.
It is not difficult to imagine how much the Fox's 12 children must have loved this maze - there were some little people playing in the thatched hut on this picture - they were waving to us from what they considered to be their secret hideaway. However, the maze was not the total preserve of the youngsters.
A visitor to the house in 1854 wrote in her diary "We dined in the house and then lay in the grass and sang until we joined the gentlemen who had retired to the labyrinth to smoke".
 
Set in its own wooded valley, perfect for hide and seek, the gardens drop steeply down to a small beach on the shores of the beautiful Helford Estuary.
Air plants, members of the Bromeliaceae family, growing on old branches.
Rhododendron cornubia
Camellia - name unknown
Helleborus candy love
The winter months have favoured wild flowers. All of the gardens visited had grassy banks smothered in primroses, violets and red campion.
In the foreground Grevillea rosmarinifolia white variety
I love the copper coloured bark of the Luma apiculata - flowering myrtle, native to the central Andes between Chile and Argentina
Journeys end - their own private beach on the Helford Estuary where they could swim, sail, play ball games, and climb rocks.
What an idyllic playground the 12 Fox children had to grow up in.

55 comments:

  1. What an enchanting place for a large family to grow up in, Rosemary. All children would enjoy this wonderful garden. Cornwall must be much warmer than I imagine, as I continue to be astonished to see those sub-tropical plants which we grow here in Queensland, looking so happy in the U.K. Aren't the foxes at the gate a fun touch!

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    1. Thank you Patricia - you have hit the obvious connection on the head - The Foxes, of course - 14 of them, why did it elude me.
      I will add an extra comment now♡

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  2. Hello Rosemary, I was instantly taken with the beach photos, which made me want to start exploring them while learning about Cornish geology. The flowers are beautiful, but I wonder whether "Candy Love" is an appropriate name for a hellebore, which are supposed to be toxic.
    --Jim

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    1. Dear Jim - the Hellebore is a hybrid developed in Belgium.
      It must have been wonderful to make a garden in such a delightful spot, and of course the bottom of the garden is the icing on the cake.

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  3. Hi Rosemary, what an impressive garden, that must have been a delight to visit for you! I think the maze that the Fox family created is the most beautiful that I have ever seen so far. The rhododendron cornubia is just amazing. I wonder how old this plant is? And how cool that they even had their own beach. The whole garden must have been paradise for their children! Wishing you a nice rest of the Sunday!
    Christina

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    1. Hello Christina - I do believe that the Rhododendron cornubia is original to the garden - it had the proportions of a large tree.
      It was a lovely garden to visit, and like many of the others we visited required good leg muscles to cope with the steep terrain.

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  4. Dear Rosemary,what a beautiful place you visit!!The gardens are amazing,what a beauty,and the private beach,suberb!!
    I really like the foxes on the gate!Thank you for sharing!Wish you a lovely week!
    Dimi...

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    1. It is a very attractive garden, made especially so by the lovely location.

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  5. Awesome post, Rosemary. Right now I'm reading a book (a British mystery) that features a maze, so I was particularly delighted to see a real photo of one. Have a great week.

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    1. That is a coincidence Marie - this maze does not have the height that mazes usually have, you cannot normally see over the top of the hedge. The hedge here is lower because it was designed specifically for children.
      Enjoy your mystery story.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,

    As I was reading this posting it occured to me that to have 12 children in 1820 probably meant that none died in infancy.That in turn lead me to believe that this wonderful eden must have been a pretty healthy spot in which to live and grow!

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    1. I hadn't really considered that aspect Mark.
      I suspect that several factors played a role - the Fox family were very wealthy and would no doubt have eaten a good diet - Cornwall has plenty of fish and grows wonderful fruit, vegetables. However, I think that you are right about it being a healthy spot.

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  7. Glendurgan what a beautiful garden. I have seen some Cornish gardens but not this one, I certainly want to go back there you have so many stunning gardens across the North Sea.

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    1. You could have a holiday just doing Devon and Cornish gardens there are so many lovely ones - I have only two more left to show. On the whole we do seem to be a nation of garden lovers, even people with the smallest little plot often put lots of love and care into it.

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  8. Some lovely photos of Glendurgan. I visited there a couple of years ago for the first time. I do love to visit the Cornish gardens in spring - I think from now until about June is the best time to see them.

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    1. Last time we visited in June, the gardens were much more luxuriant, but I really wanted to see the Camellias, and Rhododendrons this time. Another good thing was that we had the gardens almost to ourselves.

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  9. What a fabulous garden in which to have spent a childhood! I did enjoy your post about it... somewhere to remember for future visits to Cornwall :-)

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    1. Lots of gardens to visit in Cornwall Nat, and you need to be fit like you are. There are lots of steep pathways to climb up and down.

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  10. What a beautiful place, you really do go to some wonderful places! Love the fox on the wall too, that is just great isn't it! xx

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    1. Thanks Amy - can you imagine what a wonderful garden it would have been to grow up in with 11 brothers and sisters to play with?

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  11. Oh, this just gets better and better. What a fabulous trip you have had. This one reminds me of Trebah, in the same area and also a valley going down to the river. The tree ferns and camellia are beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Jessica - you will definitely recognise my next post - Trebah, which I have to say is one of my all time favourite gardens.

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  12. An amazing garden and place , looks like heaven to live there ! Love that plant hanging from the trees , at first I thought it was an 'Epiphyllum' , but clearly it is not . Wish you a nice start of the week.

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    1. Dear Jane - I do believe that there might have been an Epiphyllum amongst them. They are very strange plants the way that they live on a host tree and seem to cling there with the help of lichens and moss. They do not use their host of course, but simply live on moisture and nutrients from the air, rain and debris accumulating around them.

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  13. Idyllic childhood indeed!! It looks like such a lovely place. And it looks like almost summer already! so many lovely flowers. Great photos!!

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    1. All of the flowers are opening out - just need the new leaves on the trees to green everywhere up a bit more. I think we can safely say that we have shut the door to winter - but fingers crossed just in case.

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  14. Thanks for this lovely post, Rosemary. Another of Cornwall's beautiful gardens!
    I've enjoyed catching up with your recent posts and see that you have enjoyed your return to Cornwall. Thank you for taking me along with you. It was lovely to see 'Heligan' again.

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    1. Dear Betty - I am pleased that these posts have refreshed some memories from your own trip to Cornwall last year. It is always interesting to see posts where you have visited yourself.

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  15. Wow what a fabulous and fun garden. Love that maze Have you ever read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier? In it she describes the driveway to Manderley lined with gigantic Rhododendron bushes with blood red flowers. Now I now what they look like.

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    1. Although Manderley was a fictional place, it could easily have been based on Glendurgan or one of the other gardens nearby, as Daphne du Maurier set it in Cornwall - who knows?

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  16. So many varied and lovely plants out in bloom at this time of the year because of the microclimate. I was interested in seeing the bamboo and rope railings alongside those steps - a lovely natural touch that someone (head gardener?) has thought about in the upkeep of those beautiful grounds and valley.

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    1. The bamboo is homegrown too, which gives it an added interest. In the next garden we visited they were cutting the bamboo and a local craftsperson was then making them into walking poles rather like the ones used for Nordic walking.

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  17. Great idea to create ,a space like this for children ! As always lovely photos and interesting informations !
    Thank you for sharing this !

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    1. They were a very fortunate family of children to have such a wonderful place to grow up in. It is interesting to think that the original garden is now nearly 200 years old.

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  18. The maze is amazing. Lovely Camellia and garden.

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  19. Hello Rosemary,

    Yes, what a delicious adventure playground Glendurgan must have been for the Fox children. Surely exactly the kind of childhood fantasy that we should all have loved. We know that we would.

    And, what an amazingly exotic range of plants are grown there. A veritable treasure chest of the Plant Kingdom which must look wonderful in every season but, perhaps, never more so than in Spring.

    There are so many fabulous gardens in Cornwall but, sadly, we have never visited Glendurgan. It has been a joy to explore it here with you.

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    1. Dear Jane and Lance - the garden sits in a delightful situation with wonderful vistas down to the beach and visa versa.
      It must have been a fun garden for the children to have access to - glad that you enjoyed exploring it with me.

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  20. What an amazing garden, you could play a great game of hide and seek even with 12. How lovely to have that as your playground, I would never want to leave it, in fact I would come back as a ghost.

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    1. They were indeed lucky children - it has been suggested that it was unusual to have 12 surviving children in 1820, and it may be that they all survived because they had access to this wonderful playground and lots of fresh air .

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  21. Some plants and trees are totally unknown to me..a garden unexpectetly and strangely beautiful and so old! It's a miracle keep it alive and lush!

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    1. As the year passes this garden becomes even more lush - at the moment the deciduous trees are still awaiting their leaves.
      May be some of the plants are unknown to you because they only grow in acidic soil - many of the plants in the garden I cannot grow myself because my soil is alkaline.
      It is an old garden, remarkable to think that it is almost 200 years old

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  22. What a wonderful garden designed for the children they must have had an amazing time playing here! Sarah x

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    1. It is possible to picture them in your minds eye scurrying around the secret pathways and having lots of imaginative fun.

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  23. Hello Rosemary

    What an idyllic childhood for the Fox children. I wonder if any of them became an author.
    Thanks for sharing and providing the names for the various plants and tress.

    Helenx

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    1. I know that the grandson wrote a book called 'Two Homes' in which he related his childhood with all of his many cousins and the beautiful gardens they shared.

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  24. Um jardim tropical maravilhoso..os Ibisco estão lindos...as palmeiras...É um pequeno paraíso...onde eu me sentiria a Eva de certeza...
    Beijo
    Graça

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    1. Obrigado Graça - é um belo jardim e eu estou contente que você tenha gostado de vê-lo.

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  25. What a wonderland to grow up in, Rosemary. Imagine the fun. These seem to have been enlightened parents. Thanks you for another wonderful introduction to a place I'd never have heard of or seen but for you. The photos are luscious. I recently finished reading a book in which a maze is featured prominently on the cover and in the interior - with a maze keeper to keep everyone from getting lost. :) Hmmm, that sounds like a good title for a book: The Maze Keeper.

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    1. Someone else mentioned that they were reading a mystery book which featured a maze, so she was particularly pleased to see a photo of one. This maze has much lower hedges than normal because it is designed for the little people, you can't normally see over the top.
      Does sound like a good title - The Maze Keeper - have you got your pens and paper at the ready Yvette.

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  26. A very wealthy family indeed , to be able to make such a wonderland for their 12 children.
    So beautiful are the trees and the plants. Their own beach.
    I should imagine , that there was never a dull moment in the Fox family.
    Happy days Rosemary.
    val xx

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    1. It is extraordinary to think that this garden is actually almost 200 years old, all the Fox children who played in the garden are now long gone, but the trees and shrubs from that time still remain.

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  27. This garden is like a fairytale come true. Amazing!

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    1. Lucky little Fox children to have grown up in these surroundings.

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