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A Little Paradise: Escape to the lost world of the Hidden Valley Gardens to relax and recharge

31 January 2019
Lovingly created and maintained by owners Tricia and Peter Howard, who live on- site, Hidden Valley Gardens is a gem of a find that’s off the beaten tourist trail. Nestled in a hidden valley (as you might have guessed from the name) at Treesmill near Fowey, there’s an immense sense of calm here and it’s a wonderful place to wander around and enjoy some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist hotspots. Once a wilderness, the award-winning planned and planted garden now spans three acres. And there’s plenty packed in with 26 beds and seven borders featuring a host of native and exotic plants. The hot border bursts with a riot of scorching colours in summer, sizzling with sunflowers, red and orange dahlias and psychedelic purple foliage, red and silver rubragrass and sword-shaped phormiums.

Raised bed with house in background

Raised beds have been crafted using the stone from the old barn for plants that enjoy drier conditions including herbs and dianthus. There’s also an iris garden, fernery, Japanese garden, potager, primrose garden, herbaceous and cottage garden beds and a Mediterranean area, which really makes you feel as if you’re abroad. And don’t miss the chance to make a wish at the magical fairy well!

Pop by the pond to see innovative bog planting and spy wildlife like toads, gravity-defying pond skaters and dancing butterflies; or sit in the shady gazebo and gaze out across the Cornish countryside. This is a great place to enjoy a catch up with an old friend or a romantic walk with a loved one - and thanks to a genius free quiz sheet to keep the kids entertained, the whole family will find something to enjoy. Seating is strategically placed around the garden making it easy to take a break if you need to and dogs are very welcome on leads.

Don’t worry if you’re a bit of a gardening amateur - plants are well labelled and there is a printed leaflet available which takes you on a tour of the beds and the diverse plant species they contain. Typically, open from March to October, the garden recently acquired a new snowdrop collection and now also opens by appointment in February to those wanting to view these delicate winter wonders. Group bookings are also taken outside regular opening hours. Peter also recently added a small orchard to the plot growing fruits of the season and there’s also seasonal pick your own strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and tayberries (whilst stocks last!).

Keep an eye out for the birds and the bees too - bees love all the flowers to be found here and bird-life including jays, nuthatches, swallows and woodpeckers fill the air with song and sounds. There are plenty of rabbits around and deer have been spotted too. The Howards always have one eye on their environmental impact and collect rainwater for watering as well as composting their waste material. They recently installed a new water feature, which is solar powered and the whole space has been planned with the topography and climate of the site in mind.

Fairy well

Admission costs £5 for adults, children are free, and this includes a tea or coffee which you can help yourself to in the dedicated Tea Hut. There are also some wonderful homemade cakes on offer if you’re feeling peckish. If you’re feeling inspired and your green-fingers are twitching to create your own hidden garden at home, make sure you stop off at the impressive plant nursery. Here you’ll find traditional and more unusual plant species that are mostly propagated on site and of ten from seeds in the garden.

The garden is well signposted from main routes and has plenty of free parking. opening times are from 20 March to 15 October between 10am and 6pm, Thursday to Monday. The garden is also open by appointment for snowdrop walks in February.

Visit the website for more information, details of events, a gallery of images and directions:

Hidden Valley Gardens, Treesmill, Par, Cornwall PL24 2TU T: 01208 873225

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