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Garden Highlights

With so many different areas and species to discover, Trewithen is a place that intrigues and enchants at every turn. 

Here, no two days are the same. Seasons ring the changes, with Trewithen’s lawns, glades and treetops transforming on an almost daily basis. In spring, the quiet rest of winter gives way to an exotic burst of colour: whites, reds, yellows, and almost every shade of pink. During summer, it’s the turn of our hydrangeas and roses, while the wildlife garden and water garden also come into their own. And of course, in early autumn, we see the vibrant berry-reds and bright leaf shades of plants including our viburnums and acers.

Alongside this natural bounty, there are other highlights to take in, from sculpture and conceptual art to historic planting. We’ve collected some of our favourites here, but we’re firm believers that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so why not take a walk and see what you can uncover?

Henheadhow Circle

Created by James Wild, the Henheadhow Circle is guaranteed to stop every garden wanderer in their tracks. This large, bold piece of sculptural art is arresting in itself, but look a little closer and you’ll see that there’s even more to it. The circle, representing the ever-vital circle of life that informs all we do, is actually sculpted from historic estate fencing. Henheadhow means “generation” in Cornish, signifying the many generations of fence that we reclaimed and upcycled, giving these materials another lease of life.

Henheadhow Circle garden sculpture at Trewithen in Cornwall

Magnolia fountain

In 1997, local conceptual artist Tom Leaper became a frequent visitor to Trewithen, inspired by the shapes and forms of the magnolia flowers he found here. From this vision, an extraordinary work of art was born. With a strong horizontal design, rooted in the shape of the magnolia flower, the fountain relies on the petals’ natural verticals to control the water, which flows from one petal to the next. Bringing true Cornish character and echoing a sense of place, it is sculpted primarily from phosphor bronze and Cornish granite.

Champion Trees

A Champion Tree is one that’s considered “best in class”: it has been officially measured by the Tree Register and declared to be the tallest of its type, or to have the largest diameter. Major gardens and parks throughout Britain and Ireland are inspected to update Champion Tree records regularly. At Trewithen, you can see 18 Champion Trees, including many considered Champion for both their height and diameter. These include several magnolias, acers and eucryphias.

Sunlight through the trees at Trewithen Gardens

Eagle Ponds

As surely Trewithen’s longest-running project, the Eagle Ponds began construction in 1715, and were finally finished in 2021. Remarkably, work on the ponds, spanning 25 acres, can be dated back 300 years, but this area was never finished. In 2017, we created a master plan of work, with the ambitious goal of finally completing (not restoring) the valley and aquatic garden. Now, finally, you can walk here and experience the calming sounds of cascading water.

Eagle Ponds at Trewithen's dog-friendly gardens in Cornwall
Eagle Ponds at Trewithen Gardens in Cornwall

Pruned trees

While wandering Trewithen’s paths, you may notice that some of our trees look a little different to usual. This isn’t an accident, but by design: our pruned trees have been intentionally crafted to appear this way. This area was landscaped during the mid-1700s and features some magnificent 250-year-old oaks and sycamores. During their initial growth, Thomas Hawkins employed two tree shapers, who were given the job of creating this distinctive shaping by cutting back their leaders. This results in a greater growth outward, rather than upwards.

Upside-down trees at Trewithen Gardens in Cornwall

Upside-down trees or tree-henge

Five years ago, while undertaking some woodland clearance in Trebilcock Woods (named after our longest serving employee, Neil Trebilcock, who has worked here for over 30 years), we uncovered some ancient fallen chestnut trees. We decided to erect these trees, upside-down, in the style of Stonehenge, which certainly piques the curious of mind upon discovery.

Silent Space at Trewithen Gardens

Walled garden

Once kept private, our walled garden is now open as part of the Silent Space initiative. This aims to create space for silent reflection in some of Britain’s most beautiful and biodiverse gardens. We chose the walled garden (just west of the house) for its sheltered seclusion; here, the red-brick walls protect border plants such as Welsh poppies and photinia. Whether you’re a seasoned fan of silence or a natural talker, this is a great opportunity to pause, ponder, and explore what lies in the peaceful moments.

South Lawn vista

Sweeping and serpentine, the South Lawn is considered George Johnstone’s gardening masterpiece. Flanked on both sides by rare rhododendrons and magnolias, the lawn stretches out from the house for over 120 yards. While the original masterplan had the lawn straight and with an open vista to the south, George encouraged the end of the lawn to grow up, to protect the newly planted stock of plants. Now they are full grown, the vista has been reinstated and the lawn – a mown labour of love – now encourages the eye and the foot to head south. Although it’s impressive at any time, its spring planting makes the South Lawn particularly colourful from February to July. 

View of the lawn at Trewithen House in Cornwall

The Cockpit

The Cockpit’s name forms a rather grisly reminder of times long gone by, when this former quarry was used as a cock fighting arena. Now, it’s one of the most charming parts of the garden and home to an enormous specimen of climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea petoilaris. Also jostling for space is a collection of ferns, which includes exotic tree specimens from southwest Australia and Tasmania. These were some of the first plants of their kind to have been brought to Cornwall – originally used as ballast in returning clipper ships, they were thrown into the harbour, until it was discovered that they could enhance the sub-tropical feel of the county’s gardens. 

Sunlight shining through grasses at the Trewithen Estate in Cornwall

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