About The Garden
When we came to live here the only vegetation on the place was an old cider apple tree, with reeds and thistles in the three and half acre paddock, exposed to the main-line railway line on one side and a busy road on the other. Three inches of reasonable soil covered several feet of infill, dumped to build up a defence against the valley water which regularly flooded the house.
I began planting (using pickaxe and iron bar) in 1984, with quick-growing trees (willow, alder, eucalyptus, poplar) to give height and privacy. These are gradually being removed to provide light and space for more interesting varieties ( eg Liriodendron chinense, Tilia petiolaris, Ginko biloba, Taxodium distichum, Catalpa erubescens ‘Purpurea’ and several magnolias). At a lower level, shrubs include many Cornus, vibernums, mahonias and hydrangeas.
In a rather formal area rambling and climbing roses grow up a large trellis, with long box edging setting off further shrubberies. A large natural pond provides a home for carp and a variety of wildlife, and an overlooking summerhouse provides a comfortable viewing point to watch for the kingfisher.
The design, or layout, of the garden has developed over the years, and we now enjoy many different ‘rooms’, with herbaceous borders which we try to keep colourful throughout the summer season. The actual planting is to satisfy aesthetic considerations rather than ticking off a ‘collection list’, and reflects personal preference. It is our full-time occupation.
History Of The Garden
The garden is situated in what was once upon a time a long, narrow tidal creek. Over time it became a soggy marsh, and a cob and thatch cottage was built in the southern corner. The cottage became flooded every year and eventually Grandparents caused 3-4 acres to be infilled, both to hold back the marsh drainings and to provide standing room for stock - for many years this ground was used as a small-holding but less than 6 inches of soil covered several feet of rubble, china clay, household rubbish and spoil of every description. This is now my garden.
The rest of the valley (14 acres) remains an inaccessible marsh, and is now designated as a water storage reservoir by the Environment Agency, who carried out a major Flood Relief Scheme in the 1970’s.
There still remains ample evidence of past days. We have collected cockle shells in the marsh and an archaeological dig nearby discovered a hoard of shells brought up from this creek. Sea sand is just below the surface. The stones of the granite quay where miners living in the village of Tywardreath up on the hill used to board their ferry to go across to the mines in Lanescot, now form a bridge across the narrow stream which flows down from Treesmill.
Daphne du Maurier wrote her historical romance ‘The House on the Strand’ based on this former creek.
We have introduced a vast amount of soil, animal manure and mulch to improve growing conditions, though pernicious weeds came too. This obviously does not create good conditions, but we do our best. A successful flood relief scheme was introduced in the 1970’s and the EA now monitor the area. The only vegetation here when we took over in the early 1980’s was a cider apple tree, reeds and thistles. We had a truly blank canvas.