A visit to Trengwainton garden

Trengwainton garden is just outside Penzance, and was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1961. It’s a historic garden created initially by Sir Rose Price the wealthy owner of a Jamaican Sugar plantation. He bought Trengwainton in 1814 and built a walled kitchen garden to the exact dimensions of Noah’s Ark as detailed in the bible. Built in brick (an expensive alternative to stone) it retains the days heat resulting in a kitchen garden that is virtually frost free, growing tender varieties and a wide range of early vegetables.

The abolition of slavery made the sugar plantation business a less profitable concern and in 1925 the Bolitho family bought Trengwainton. Sir Edward Bolitho sponsored plant hunting expeditions to Burma and Assam returning with Britain’s first scented Rhododendrons which still bloom in the garden in late Spring.

Trengwainton lacks the manpower and budget to truly reflect its former glory, not a wow garden however there is a wow feature. Within the kitchen garden there are raised angled west facing vegetable beds, inspired resourceful constructions that capture and make the most of the sun’s rays.

A slanted kitchen garden bedThe fabulous slanted kitchen garden beds – If only I had more space!

Following are pictures of our visit.

Trengwainton Kitchen gardenTrengwainton kitchen garden

Trengwainton Humpty Dumpty Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall of the raised angled border

Trengwainton HouseTrengwainton House

Trengwainton View from the houseThe impressive view from Trengwainton House looking out to sea

Trengwainton EchiumAn Echium, these seem to grow like weeds in this part of Cornwall

Trengwainton Echium close upEchium close up, a bee magnet

Trengwainton Tree fernsTropical looking Tree Ferns

Trengwainton urnA beautiful urn

Trengwainton rhododendron

Trengwainton rhododendron

Trengwainton rhododendronTrengwainton rhododendrons

Trengwainton BambooI love this picture of bambo, it’s like my family, a little bit on the wonk!

Courgettes planted

I eagerly await the year’s first courgettes, my impatience to start cropping always leads me to plant out too early, stalling the crop. This year I’ve held back waiting until the end of the month. During May I’ve potted on the young courgette plants twice, preventing them from becoming pot bound. I last did this a week ago and was amazed to see the root development in this time. There are other advantages to planting courgettes out late, whilst clearing the raised bed ready for planting I discovered over 50 slugs (they were all divided in two!), waiting a few extra weeks the plants stems develop and thicken giving a little extra slug protection.

Courgettes from under glassCourgettes finally ready to go out

The prepared raised bedThe prepared raised bed

Courgette roots that have developed within a weekA weeks worth of roots!

I’ve installed a watering system with a spur to each thirsty courgette plant. I have also made a bowl like ring of earth around each plant to keep the water directly on the plants roots.

Planted courgettesPlanted courgettes with watering system installed

Hopefully this year’s extra care and attention will reward us with early bumper crops.

What to do if your garlic flowers.

It’s the time of year when the Allium family starts to flower, my Chives and Allium Purple Sensation are blooming and there are flower buds on my autumn sown Garlic. It’s important to snip the Garlic flower buds off. You want all the plants energy focused on producing lovely large bulbs of Garlic, it’s a waste to let this energy be diverted into flower production.

Don’t throw the Garlic flower stems away, known as ‘Garlic Scapes’ they’re absolutely delicious. Discard the flower bud and the end of the stem if it’s woody, in the same way you would with Asparagus. It can be cooked like Asparagus, chopped up and used as a herb or as part of a stir fry. They’re delicious, slightly sweet and nutty.

Garlic flower budsA Garlic flower bud

Garlic ScapesThe Garlic Scapes (flower bed stems) ready for cooking

Other Alliums in flower in the garden:

Chive flowersChives in flower

Allium Purple SensationAllium Purple Sensation

A May harvest from the kitchen garden

Whilst planting out Kale and sowing Dwarf French Beans, I noticed my first few Radish’s and Broad Beans of the year. They didn’t make it to the kitchen, a gardener’s perk! The young fresh flavours got me thinking about what we’re actually harvesting at the moment. So here’s a quick snapshot of the produce from the garden today.

RadishRadish ready for picking

broad bean aquadulce claudiaBroad Bean Aquadulce Claudia, I sow them in October for an early Spring crop, usually very successful unless we have an unusually cold winter

ArtichokeArtichokes, they look so beautiful I can’t bare to cut them yet.

Ranunculus Aviv OrangeRanunculus Aviv Orange, Zing! I can’t keep my eyes off them, an amazing cut flower.

Sweet peaAutumn sown Sweet Peas, the summer floral scent is a refreshing change from the more intense and heady daffodil aroma I’ve got used to in the last few months

May flowers from the cutting gardenFlowers from the cutting border. It was only when up loading this picture that I realised how ridiculous the tulips look, they’ve now been reduced in size and popped back into the arrangement below! I’m far from a natural florist!


Bean poles

Putting out the bean poles is always a sign of the vegetable plot getting into full swing. I love the height, structure and character it gives the kitchen garden. I try to avoid the use of bamboo canes as they ‘re too stark for my liking, I prefer the thicker more solid country look of hazel or chestnut stakes. We’re lucky and coppice our own from cobnut trees, but they can be cheaply bought from good garden centres and people who coppice to make chestnut fencing. Last year I went for the rustic gothic arch look for the runner beans to clamber up, this year the legumes have moved to a smaller raised bed so I’ve made less ecclesiastical wigwams from the stakes.

I started a selection of Runner Beans, Mangetout, and Dwarf French Beans off inside, these have been planted out and I will now sow extra seed directly to the vegetable bed to help extend the cropping season. This is particularly important with climbing Mangetout which do tend to fizzle out after a few months.

Climbing bean bedThe climbing bean bed

Planted MangetoutThe Mangetout planted out

Planted Runner BeansRunner Beans planted out




Blossom Binge

Snow one week, 25°c the next! The lovely warm weather has brought on the fruit tree blossom and it’s looking fabulous. You’ll see by the pictures below I’ve been on a blossom binge in the garden, there is one little surprise at the end! Most trees now have their leaves all a different shade of fresh vibrant green which is to be savoured, next month it will sadly fade to a darker uniform ‘tree green’.

Bramley apple blossomMy favourite, Bramley Apple blossom, I love the delicate pink     

Bramley Apple blosson 2A bit more Bramely Apple blossom

Conference Pear BlossomConference Pear blossom

Conference Pear Blossom 2Conference Pear blossom, it’s like confetti when it falls

Crabapple blossomCrabapple blossom, the pink blossom is offset perfectly against its burgundy leaves

Japanese Quince BlossomJapanese Quince blossom, the petals look like wax

EuphorbiaOkay, it’s not blossom! But Euphorbias do give an amazing zing at this time of year.

Grass SnakeA grass snake, basking between the artichokes and peas. They are becoming less common so we feel lucky to have one visit on a sunny day.

How to build a cutting garden for less than £100.

My second and final (thank goodness) Spring project is complete. The first was landscaping, tidying and grass seeding our main lawn. The second has been creating a cutting garden in an area which contains our septic tanks (oh the joys of living in the middle of no-where). I can only describe this section of front garden as wasteland, and I must confess I have been hanging my head in shame at the thought of friends and neighbours seeing it and thinking ‘…and she calls her self a garden blogger!’.

Cutting garden before shot

Cutting garden before shot 2The shameful before shots!

I started the cutting garden by marking out the shape of the raised beds with canes which can be seen in the picture above. I then measured and ordered the wood.

Once I had cleared the area of roots I then levelled the raised bed section and built the wooded frame. For details on how to make a raised bed do take a look at the video I made last year.

The raised bed frameHalf way there! The completed raised bed frame.

I then dug out the surrounding area and used the excess soil combined with garden compost to fill the raised beds. Finally I put down weed block and covered with pea single.

The cutting garden before plantingThe after shot!

Cutting garden before planting 2Ready for planting

Wood used came to £40 and a meter square sack of pea shingle £45. The obelisk I made from our coppiced willow is in pride of place, sweet peas sown in autumn are happily beginning to clamber up it.  I can’t wait to fill the rest of the raised bed with dahlias and annuals. With the lovely warm weather we’re enjoying it’s tempting to plant up this weekend, my gut feeling says we’ve seen the last of the frosts in Kent.

After planting I will hammer in hazel stakes and hang pea netting to them. This will give support to the annuals encouraging lovely long straight stems for cutting. The lurid green netting looks dreadful to start with but the annuals soon grow through it covering the green plastic.

May bank holiday, tulips and rhubarb

It’s May bank holiday weekend, so far the weather’s held out. 1920’s jazz is drifting around our house and garden from the husbands newly acquired gramophone, the boys have pitched the tent and are planning to sleep in the garden tonight (they’ll of course be back in their beds by 8.30pm). The tulips are blooming and I’ve picked our first crop of rhubarb this year. I have one Rhubarb forcer and we all look forward to the early delicacy of tender and delicious forced Rhubarb. I love the baby pink colour of the stems, with three boys there is very little pink in my life so it is to be savoured!

Rhubarb forcerThe rhubarb forcer

Forced Rhubarb from under the forcerForced rhubarb from under the pot

Forced RhubarbMy rhubarb crop for pudding – yum!

Tulips in the cutting borderTulips from the cut flower border, looking stunning and filling the house with colour