Two Amazing Gardens: Trebah and Glendurgan

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Where I stayed
White Hart Hotel, St Austell, Cornwall, UK
What I did
Glendurgan Garden

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today was a very busy day and I miss being in the guest house in Falmouth because of their superior internet connection!!  But I do like my new abode - the White Hart Hotel - for the next four nights - because it has a lot of character.  But unfortunately the internet connection is poor at the moment and I couldn't log on to anything so I am back in Wordpad.  Maybe I will try downstairs tomorrow.

I had another night where I woke up before 6 am and slept in bits after that until around 7 when I showered and went in for breakfast at 7:30.  I wanted an early start in case the buses didn't run often.  Somehow though by the time I packed my bags to leave and checked out, it was already around 9.  I walked over to what I thought was going to be a bus station but was a central bus stop.  On the way I bought some Cornish brie from a farmer's market from a wonderful gray-bearded Cornish cheesemonger.  I waited for the 500 bus but the 500 bus driver said he didn't go to Trebah Gardens - that I needed the 35 bus.  That bus didn't leave until 10:15.

In the meantime, the lady sitting next to me at the bus stop mentioned that she was told the bus was at 9:50 but they must have switched back to the former bus schedule.  Then we talked about the gardens.  The man next to her had a Spanish accent and he contributed to the conversation.  By the time I got on the bus, we were all friends and the man waved goodbye to me.  The lady got on but got off before me.  We rode through some lovely windy country lanes between tall hedgerows and passed some Cornish cottages I am sure.  I saw several thatched roofs - one on the Red Lion.  Eventually we passed some signs and then stopped at the Trebah Gardens sign.  Several others got off with me.  I forgot that I had also talked with several couples with walking sticks - one set ended up going to the gardens too, but the others were going off walking on the Coastal Path.

At Trebah gardens, I used my Cornish Gardens brochure to get a stamp that would earn me a discount at future gardens.  I may also have gotten got a senior discount and a half-price admission based on my bus ticket.  Quite the good deal!  The hiking stick couple also asked for the senior and bus ticket discounts.  Map in hand, I started on one of the outer perimeters toward the river.  Both gardens have access to the Helford River.  The ticket seller said I should be sure to see the water garden and the hankerchief tree.  I went through the extensive water garden and loved it - especially the candlelabra primroses - they were spectacular.  I have to admit again that moving in the Cornwall landscape is very rigorous.  There were lots of breath-stealing steps and hills here.  I walked down from the water garden to the river, seeing lots of bluebells and wild flowers along the way.  A series of streams and ponds intertwined with the Bamboozle - a planting of various bamboos and the Gunnera Forest.  I loved the giant gunnera plants with spiky stems and leaves.  Various children's haunts were featured - the old school house, a special swing.  I learned that the Healey family - as in 'Austin-Healey' automobiles - lived here at one time and enlarged the garden.

The garden was quite extensive with lots of trees and flowering shrubs - the rhododendron were in bloom in striking colors.  In most cases the trees and shrubs were scattered but there were camellias concentrated in one area that I can remember.  (I am hearing the floor creak above me as I am sure whoever might be below me can hear the floor creak when I walk on it.)   Again I tried to capture those swaths of blue but the bluebells never look quite the same in the photos.  I began to get a little hungry but looked into the cafe and decided against buying anything.  I kept my fish from yesterday's dinner and thought I would eat that but didn't get to it right away - but I ate the last of my chocolate bar before moving on to the gift shop and buying a few post cards.  I asked about the return bus service and got a bus schedule and a 5:06 pm time.

I walked back up the road to the Glendurgan entrance.  Now Liz said she liked Trebah better.  The Glendurgan house is still lived in by the family I guess and it is blocked off as private.  Both the house and the garden have foxes on posts at their entrances.   The reason for this is that the name of the owners was or maybe still is Fox - an old Quaker family.  The Fox with a lot of garden history had 13 children and, as in the Trebah gardens, included features for the children.  Glendurgan is famous for its maze.  I went into it at the end of my visit but not far enough to get lost in it or to solve the maze by getting to the center and out again.  I didn't want to miss my bus.

Again I started on a peripheral path - again the paths went up and down.  Even the periphery had high ground for viewing the maze.  It was fun to see all the peoples' heads bobbing around.  I told one couple they misnamed one path - instead of Maze Viewing Path, it should have been Heart Attack Path.  I think my lack of lunch made me a little less frisky.  And I had been feeling so fit not so long ago.  

The Glendurgan Garden ends farther away from the river than the Trebah.  Here you go outside the garden gate into the village of Durgan with its small harbor and cluster of houses and businesses and then back in by another gate.  Trebah had a little beach outside a fence but steps and a path to get out there.  Both gardens had a lot of tree ferns but I think the Glendurgan garden had more exotic trees.  I saw a monkey puzzle tree and some poster-boards mentioned plants from different parts of the world.  Some of the rhododendron were more spectacular here but the water features weren't so well developed as in Trebah.  I think they were equally good in different ways.  I wonder if being so close makes them too competitive or brings them more visitors.

I was flagging a bit so I didn't spend as much time in Glendurgan unless you count the cafe because by 4 pm I was starving and decided I might as well have my Cornish cream tea now.  I had had the cream tea with Claire and Adrian in Windsor and they said I needed to have a Cornish one because their cream was special.  It was very rich and sweeter I think.  I did enjoy it and the rest that went with it.  By 4:45, I was on the road waiting for the bus.  I found a bus schedule across the street from Glendurgan and it showed no bus after 4:10.  I was beginning to contemplate how I would get back to Falmouth.  I decided to walk back to Trebah because I thought I might be able to talk to someone about the buses.  When I got there I found 2 girls and a toddler waiting for the 5:06 so I waited with them.  A 500 bus came and accepted my return ticket from the 35 bus.  I don't think I will ever understand public transportation.  This bus went back by a different route closer to the shore so I thought maybe it would stop at the Maritime Museum which is close to my guest house.  And it did.

I got to the guest house at 5:30 - just what I had estimated and told Sue, the guest house person.  I reshuffled the contents of my daypack in their living room while the owner Alan made their dinner.  Sue was a real sweetheart and chatted about gardens and things with me.  After leaving the guest house, I walked up hill to the train station and managed to get a train within 5 minutes or so.  The Falmouth train only has one line and goes back and forth on it.  A man waiting for the train explained that to me.  We chatted - I have lost track now of what different people have told me.  I think he said he had traveled in the US.  In any case, we talked about gardens and things. He said that the pace of living was slower in Cornwall.  I mentioned that I noticed that there were not many (any) shopping centers.  He asked what I retired from and said his son works with children with autism.  When we got off in Truro, he carried my backpack out to the platform and told me where to catch the next train.  I had to go over the going up the stairs.  There was supposedly a heated waiting area but I don't think the heat was on...the lights were not.  I read for awhile, then gave up, during the 1 1/2 hr wait for the next train to St Austell.  I did eat the rest of my fish though.

The train to St Austell took longer than I thought so I was beginning to get worried and then it was announced.  I got off, climbed the stairs over the track and saw some cabs parked outside the station.  I was happy because I didn't have the directions to the hotel and didn't feel like walking around without knowing where I was going.  I asked the driver how much to the White Hart and he said about 3 pounds but it was very close and I could easily walk there.  So I did.  It really wasn't that far AND it was downhill!   It is a large stone building with the White Hart sign out front.  It has a restaurant/pub as well as the hotel.  There is a post office between the train/bus station and the hotel.  What more could I want....except for decent wi-fi.
When I got here, a waiter asked if I were checking in and said he would be with me in a minute.  Instead a young woman checked me in and was very friendly and solicitous - offering me a morning newspaper - for free.  (Actually it wasn't free.)  She asked if I wanted any dinner and gave me a card for my room tab.  I came up to my room and it is large and comfortable with a desk and double bed.  The hotel has undergone some updating and the literature is very professional and guest-friendly.  Since I will be here a few days, I hung up some clothes and got settled and then went down to try the local ale - from St Austell's Brewery.  The bartender's favorite is Tribute but I had that one already so tried a different one - the name of which escapes me.  Maybe it was Trelawney.

Since I am not usually a bar habitue, I wanted to sit someplace inconspicuously but still not isolated.  I sat on a bench by a table near the bar but not far from a waitress and 2 men.  The waitress was eating chicken casserole out of a baking dish and it looked quite appealing.  The men were drinking beer and talking.  I listened.  And gradually I got involved in the conversation.  One of the men - a Frenchman - left after the Cornish man told him that the French stole the Cornish fish.  The remaining man was very interesting.  He had just gotten home from Afghanistan on Friday.  He is a  career officer in the British air force and has been to Iraq, the Balkans, and Sierra Leone.  At first we talked about traveling, Cornwall, New England, mining in Cornwall, Cornwall china clay, his children's Cornish names - the fact he delivered them all and then we got to war, atrocities, what it is like being a soldier when the war you are fighting makes no sense.   I didn't leave because the topics became depressing but it was time for me to go since I finished my beer and wanted to work on my blog, but it was fun to chat with a native Cornish person. 

People here are very friendly and pleasant to tourists.  I don't think they resent tourists as much as people in some other areas of the world.  They are very proud of Cornwall and seem to want to share it.

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