100 Seconds – Cornwall, its Elysian Tropical Gardens 06/03/2021

With its Gulf Stream influence, great gardens in Cornwall can splash out with tropical plantings and trees, that would shiver in winter or expire of frost elsewhere in the UK. For several days, I just wandered about — from the seacoast, to artist and writer haunts, and a selection of different inspiring green spaces. Let me take you to two of these:

How could one not visit a place named that? Unique in the world, this Eden is famous for its “biomes”, the world’s largest greenhouses which nestle in a giant crater the size of 30 football fields, forming the centerpiece of a spectacular global garden. Their mission is both preservation and warning, as what grows within these greenhouses are often threatened in the wider world.

Another treat at Eden is the rainforest aerial walkway – not for those who have quivering legs on heights! Just one of their amazing plants is “Fascicularia bicolour”, a bromeliad found high in the Andes, mainly in Chile. It forms clumps on the ground with electric blue and red flowers in its center. A psychedelic pineapple….

This is a sub-tropical paradise, a valley garden with a stunning coastal backdrop. It’s the result of 180 years of inspired creation. Its beach was an embarkation point for the 29th US Infantry Division destined for the assault landing on Omaha beach. Visiting in spring, it was alive with a wealth of 100-year-old rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias. Also famed for its “champion trees”, some of the tallest living in the UK.

A favorite of mine are the tree ferns, especially “Dicksonia antarctica”, which can grow to over 49 feet height, with dark green, luxurious fronds that spread into a large canopy. The “trunk” of this fern is really the decaying remains of earlier growth of the plant and forms a medium through which the roots grow. #garden

The last of this journey (Part 3) centers on one of Cornwall’s unique writers, Daphne du Maurier, and one of its artists, Barbara Hepworth.

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