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Flora and Fauna

Encompassing gardens, parkland, woodland and ponds, Trewithen is home to a rich tapestry of flora and fauna.

Visitors to Trewithen are often surprised by the variety of plant species we have to discover. At every turn, you could find exotic plant-hunter specimens, centuries-old trees, or Cornish-bred blooms. Here, our Head Gardener shares some of the gardens’ most interesting offerings.

Rhododendron macabeanum

Yellow flowers on a Rhododendron macabeanum shrub.

Family: Ericaceae
Country: Assam

Grown from original Frank Kingdon-Ward wild collected seed and introduced in 1928 (collection number KW7724). A large, rounded shrub or small tree, this is a magnificent species for woodland conditions. It has handsome leaves up to 30cm long and large trusses of bell-shaped, pale yellow, purple-blotched flowers in April and May.

Viburnum betulifolium

A Viburnum betulifolium shrub with red berries.

Family: Viburnaceae
Country: W/C China

A large, erect shrub with white flowers in June/July. Innumerable numbers of redcurrant-like fruits weigh the branches down in autumn. We have had a stand of this wonderful shrub within the gardens since pre-1937, when it was mentioned in the RHS journal as being an “outstanding specimen”.

Paulownia tomentosa

A Paulownia tomentosa with purple foxglove-shaped blooms.

Family: Paulowniaceae
Country: China

The “Foxglove Tree” forms a round-topped tree, producing its flowers in May (here in Cornwall, they are produced in the autumn and survive the winter, but they can be tender outside of the county). Can be pruned hard, in early spring, to a single stem, which will produce foliage up to 60cm across for a subtropical feel.

Amomyrtus luma

Amomyrtus luma with clusters of creamy-yellow flowers.

Champion tree
Family: Myrtaceae
Country: Chile

A large shrub or small tree with leaves that are copper-coloured when young, fragrant when crushed. In spring, sweet but spicy scented flowers fill the air with their heady fragrance. Attractive, cinnamon-coloured, peeling bark.

Magnolia campbellii subsp. Mollicomata

Blooms of Campbell's magnolia in shades of purple, mauve, lilac, and violet.

Champion tree
Family: Magnoliaceae
Country: China

Large, goblet-shaped flowers, in February/March, which open to resemble waterlilies. Light pink inside, deep rose-pink outside. Takes over 20 years to first flower. Planted in 1929.

Cornus kousa var. chinensis

Large white flower bracts on a Cornus kousa var. chinensis tree.

Family: Cornaceae
Country: China

A large, elegant shrub, with numerous flowers. Noted for its white bracts in July, followed by strawberry-like fruits. Good autumn colour.

Wisteria floribunda

Japanese wisteria with pink pea-like flowers.

Family: Fabaceae
Country: Japan

Planted pre-1914 in our walled garden. Produces vigorous growth, cut back annually, with pinnate leaves. In early summer, it produces racemes of fragrant, pea-like, violet-blue with white and pinkish flowers.

Stewartia sinensis

A Stewartia sinensis tree with a white blossom.

Champion tree
Family: Theaceae
Country: China

A stunning specimen tree planted on the South Lawn. It has attractive mottled, peeling bark with a ruffled appearance to the trunk. In late spring it produces a flurry of single white camellia-like flowers (it is related to the camellia.

Dicksonia antarctica

A Dicksonia antarctica fern.

Tree fern
Family: Cyatheaceae
Country: Australia

We have an impressive stand of tree ferns in and around the Cock Pit area of the garden. These were first planted there in 1906 at a cost of 6d (sixpence in old money) each. They have naturalised in the cool, damp atmosphere, and we now have several generations thriving in what was originally a quarry, then a sporting arena, and now a fernery.

Camellia saluenensis ‘Isadora’

Light pink single Camellia flower.

Family: Theaceae
Country: China

We “found” this self-sown seedling of Camellia saluenensis when we removed a Prunus laureocerasus (cherry laurel) hedge. The straight species has single pink flowers, while ‘Isadora’ has single, light pink flowers with a white triangle at the base of each petal, forming a star-like pattern when opening.

Camellia saluenensis ‘Trewithen Red’

A 'Trewithen Red' camellia flower.

Family: Theaceae
Country: China

Another “seedling” or “form” of C. saluenensis, which has single, deep pink, almost red flowers, unlike the straight species, which is baby pink in colour. It also has a graceful weeping habit, as opposed to its upright habit in the wild.

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