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.
The fabulous slanted kitchen garden beds – If only I had more space!
Following are pictures of our visit.
Trengwainton kitchen garden
Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall of the raised angled border
The impressive view from Trengwainton House looking out to sea
An Echium, these seem to grow like weeds in this part of Cornwall
Echium close up, a bee magnet
Tropical looking Tree Ferns
A beautiful urn
I love this picture of bambo, it’s like my family, a little bit on the wonk!
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 finally ready to go out
The prepared raised bed
A 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 courgettes with watering system installed
Hopefully this year’s extra care and attention will reward us with early bumper crops.
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.
A Garlic flower bud
The Garlic Scapes (flower bed stems) ready for cooking
Other Alliums in flower in the garden:
Chives in flower
Allium Purple Sensation
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.
Radish ready for picking
Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia, I sow them in October for an early Spring crop, usually very successful unless we have an unusually cold winter
Artichokes, they look so beautiful I can’t bare to cut them yet.
Ranunculus Aviv Orange, Zing! I can’t keep my eyes off them, an amazing cut flower.
Autumn 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
Flowers 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!
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.
The climbing bean bed
The Mangetout planted out
Runner Beans planted out
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’.
My favourite, Bramley Apple blossom, I love the delicate pink
A bit more Bramely Apple blossom
Conference Pear blossom
Conference Pear blossom, it’s like confetti when it falls
Crabapple blossom, the pink blossom is offset perfectly against its burgundy leaves
Japanese Quince blossom, the petals look like wax
Okay, it’s not blossom! But Euphorbias do give an amazing zing at this time of year.
A 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.
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!’.
The 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.
Half 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 after shot!
Ready 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.
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!
The rhubarb forcer
Forced rhubarb from under the pot
My rhubarb crop for pudding – yum!
Tulips from the cut flower border, looking stunning and filling the house with colour