Cornwall LivingIssue #138

Thriving through history

A look back at the heritage of one of Cornwall’s most treasured botanical havens; Trewidden Garden.

Hidden in the far west of Cornwall, a variety of unusual, rare and exotic plants can be found thriving in the mild, maritime climate enjoyed by Trewidden Garden.

One of three brothers known as the ‘Merchant Princes of Cornwall’, who made their fortune in banking and the Cornish tin industry, Trewidden was purchased at auction by Edward Bolitho in 1849. His son, Thomas Bedford Bolitho, was a keen horticulturist, bringing the first of the Dicksonia antarctica to the garden. Taking a personal interest, he had the Tree Fern Dell planted, now one of the highlights for most garden visitors.

In 1915 Trewidden became linked by marriage to what would become another of ‘The Great Gardens of Cornwall’ when Mary, Thomas Bedford’s daughter, married Charles Williams of Caerhays. Mary later became an accomplished gardener and corresponded with the curators of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Edinburgh.

During World War II, Trewidden house had been used as a Red Cross Convalescent home, and each year a reminder of that time blooms in the garden. Springtime visitors are often surprised to see daffodils growing in the lawn by the pond in regimented rows, rather than naturalistic clumps, each standing tall and proud.

Alverne Bolitho, Mary’s cousin, has owned Trewidden since Mary’s death in 1977, and was keen to carry on the tradition to improve the garden whilst respecting its historic legacy. Alverne made the decision to open the garden to the public for the first time in 2002, working with Head Gardener Alison Clough.

Now working with Alverne is Head Gardener Richard Morton, who came to Trewidden in 2007. Having worked and trained in Cornwall, Richard went on to study at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew before coming to Trewidden.

Having discovered some lost rarities, Richard is working to identify and add the entire plant collection onto a plant database. Listing over 300 cultivars of camellia, Trewidden is registered as an ‘International Camellia Society of Excellence’, and while Richard is proud of many of the specimen plants in the garden, his particular passion is the collection of Azaleas, so make sure to pay a visit to see the enchanting collection for yourself!


01736 364275 / 363021