Set in a sheltered valley that leads down to its own secluded beach overlooking the Helford River, Trebah Garden is home to towering specimen trees, fragrant blooms, fabulous foliage and much more.
Founded by Charles Fox in 1838, the garden at Trebah has a real sub-tropical feel with many exotic specimens from around the globe. It’s said that the ships returning to Falmouth used cut tree fern trunks as ballast on their return journey and when the holds were opened in Falmouth docks the trunks had started to sprout in the dark, shady holds. 30 trunks were taken to Trebah and planted, where they continue to thrive under the current stewardship of Head Gardener, Darren Dickey. He says ‘Trebah has a number of champion trees and a favourite is the 21 metre tall Laureliopsis philippiana, it’s not just incredibly tall but it has scented evergreen leaves – you’ll find it along the path to the Amphitheatre.
Darren says ‘It’s great to see the changing seasons, in winter the water cascades noisily between the pools in the water garden but as the summer comes and the water flows more slowly it’s more tranquil as the sound is softened by the herbaceous plants that transform the area with their colour and fragrance. Magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and bluebells herald the arrival of spring, echiums and acanthus shoot up for summer. A jungle of gunnera plants give the valley a tropical feel with their enormous leaves that can span up to 2 metres across. And there’s always the Bamboozle, home to 39 varieties of bamboo that’s planted around a maze of paths so you really notice the different varieties as you find your way through. With two and a half acres of hydrangeas, it takes three and a half weeks to prune and shape each and every one, but well worth it for the spectacular display of colour in the early summer months.’
Darren has worked at Trebah for 25 years. He’s always had a passion for plants, inspired by boyhood days gardening with his grandfather. He first joined the gardening team at Trebah to help clear the damage caused by the storms of 1990. Nowadays he finds himself overseeing a team of three gardeners, ably assisted by a team of volunteers who are a great asset to the garden. They’re local people from all walks of life, either developing their horticultural skills or enjoying retirement keeping Trebah beautiful.
The Amphitheatre is the latest development at Trebah. The idea of a performance venue for touring theatre and operatic companies and choirs was formulated by Robert Dudley-Cooke, Chairman of Trebah Garden and was built by Darren. It can seat up to 300 people and has a full programme of events that run from April to September.
There’s certainly something for everyone at Trebah – whether it’s a summer show in the Amphitheatre, a spooky walk at Hallowe’en, or simply a stroll down the valley to the beach with your faithful hound.
Trebah’s a beautiful place, whenever you visit.