Glendurgan White

Catherine Hamilton-Veal  ©

Dawlish, United Kingdom

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Taken at Glendurgan Gardens. Cornwall. UK.
Glendurgan is a delightful garden set above the Helford River in one of the three valleys which converge at Durgan.

In 1820 the valley was purchased by Alfred Fox, who set about creating an informal garden. His family had established a thriving shipping company in nearby Falmouth during the 18th century. The Fal estuary, a great deep water harbour, was once the first port of call for shipping returning from Africa, the Americas, the Far East and the Antipodes.

The family shipping company provided a perfect vehicle for importing plants from all over the world.

Alfred Fox built the unpretentious, creeper-clad house (not open to the public) at the top of the valley soon after coming to Glendurgan. The house looks out over an expanse of grass towards Helford, the view framed by foliage.

In the 1820s and 1830s he laid out the garden. Many of the fine old trees were planted by Alfred Fox including the two splendid tulip trees below the house. He was also responsible for the many serpentine paths laid out in the romantic taste.

In 1833 he planted the laurel maze. The gently curving silvery-grey hedges of the maze, set out on a slope, resemble a serpent curled up on the grass. This unusual and popular feature has been restored.

Alfred Fox passed on his interests and talents to his successors and three subsequent generations of the family carried on the gardening tradition. They enhanced and enriched the garden, introducing some of the species that contribute to Glendurgan’s great character.

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The valley is warm and sheltered and tender exotic plants thrive here, providing great variety in shape and colour throughout the year. Noted specimens include a weeping swamp cypress, a Japanese loquat, cedars, pines, firs, and weeping Mexican cypress

In the spring Glendurgan is full of Lent Lilies, bluebells, columbines and primroses and these are followed by a great variety of rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias.

In midsummer Bentham’s cornel spreads pale gold down the valley slopes and later the hydrangeas and eucryphias take over.

There are some charming individual gardens such as the Holy Corner. This is planted with trees and shrubs associated with the Bible including a yew, a tree of heaven, an olive, a tree of thorns and a Judas tree.

In the deep cleft of the valley a garden of tropical luxuriance has been created from bamboo, tree ferns and ‘Gunnera manicata’, with its huge umbrella-like leaves.

Winding paths slowly descend the valley to the tiny fishing village of Durgan. Here there are usually boats clustered on the little beach on the Helford River.

In 1962 Glendurgan was given as a gift to the National Trust from Cuthbert and Philip Fox. Thank you for looking.

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Artwork Comments

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