Spring Comes to Cornwall

March 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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IMG_0753Where I live in a waterside village on the San Francisco Bay, gardening enthusiasts exalt when we get a dose of nice, steady rain as we did this week. “Oh, it’ll be so good for the garden!’ they say with broad smiles–and sure enough, everything around here is starting to burst forth.

However, secretly I’m saying to myself, “But you should see what’s probably happening in Cornwall, England right about now!”

imgres-2 On my multiple trips to the West Country (as it’s known locally) to visit our English relatives and research both A Cottage by the Sea and its just-published, stand alone sequel, That Summer in Cornwall, I have seen magical Cornish gardens that make even Black Thumb types like myself swoon with envy and admiration. imgres-3If you need any convincing, just check out The Great Gardens of Cornwall  “…home to a wealth of the most exciting, rare and beautiful plants and trees in the British Isles.”  Thanks to the sweeping presence of the Gulf Stream, even palm trees grow in Cornwall…to say nothing of the m flowing plants.


Palm trees and flowers in Cornwall Garden


There had to have been true creative genius among the early nineteenth century Cornish garden owners, for they had such a hunger and passion for the exotica, they put up fortunes of money to sponsor what can only be termed “The Great Victorian Plant Hunt,” bringing back to Cornwall the first rhododendrons, camellias, hydrangeas, and all manner of botanical curiosities, including palm trees.

The result of sending their minions—and sometimes trekking themselves—to far-flung places such as China and South America on expeditions that brought back to Cornwall seeds and plants has been that, some hundred and fifty years later,  travelers can see some amazing examples of what one brochure calls “wild and magnificent living theatre.” url

Caerhays_CastleAt Caerhays Castle, the model for “Barton Hall” in That Summer in Cornwall , rhododendron plants put in the soil there a hundred years ago have now grown toweringly tall.

Even many private gardens, along with the beauties run by The National Trust, are open to the public on specific days during the year—and especially in April and May when the plant world in the West Country of England runs riot with color…imgres

So, next time you’re feeling afflicted with a big dose of spring fever, plan a trip to Cornwall…

…or if that’s not in the budget, cruise around the websites listed above–and just feast your eyes…