Tregothnan has been home to the Boscawen family since 1335 and the private historic gardens and arboretum are amongst the largest in Cornwall. Apart from one weekend a year the gardens can only be visited by prior appointment, however, each spring the gates are opened for what is billed as the UK’s largest Charity Garden event.
Being a private residence it isn’t set up for visitors like Heligan or Trebah and there are areas that are closed off to the public. I kept having to remember that there is a reason there are no signs giving you information next to the tea plantations or the obligatory childrens activities. But there is something quite exciting about exploring someones private garden and I spent most of the visit wondering how much time the family actually spend in there, where they have bbqs and if they had a dog that they walked throughout the grounds.
I was surprised to see a camellia maze and the kids and I amazingly managed to find the middle without too much trouble (maybe getting lost so many times in the Glendurgan Maze has given us a second sense). We were rewarded by finding a full sized model cow – a bit random!
The weather was perfect to enjoy the estate and after two hours of strolling around the grounds we headed to the stable yards to sample the food offerings. I have to say that I was initially a little disappointed to see that the ice cream on offer wasn’t from one of the Cornish suppliers but the Kenyan Coffee ice cream was so divine so I will excuse the use of a Devon brand.
As Tregothnan is the location of the UK’s first tea plantation and despite being a coffee drinker I felt the need to have a cup of the local speciality and it tasted …….well like tea!
The event sells out every year and therefore after seeing the forecast we purchased our tickets in advance. Normally a Private Garden Visit starts at £65 per head (admittedly you are accompanied by one of the garden staff) but for the charity opening the entry fee this year was £10 for adults and free entry for children offering reasonable value for money.
I’m glad to have ticked a visit off My Bucket List and I do recommend it however, I’m not in any rush to go back – I’d rather visit some of the gardens who are set up for visitors (and especially families). I also love being able to see gardens at different stages and how they evolve with each season, so it is a real shame that the gardens are only opened to the general public the same time every year, but then again it’s better than not being able to enjoy this little part of Cornwall at all.
Have you been before? Did you go? I would love to know what you thought?