The garden at Trebah was planted in the 1840s by Charles Fox. By the 1930s it had acquired a unique collection of the rarest and most exotic plantsgathered from all over the world.
In 1939, the estate was sold and suffered from 40 years of neglect. The Hibbert family bought it in 1980, and began a massive restoration and replanting programme. The results are stunning.
Trebah as it stands today is a 26-acre, densely wooded ravine garden, stretching 200 metres down to the Helford river. The area is suffused with the sights and sounds of water. Tumbling waterfalls cascade through water gardens and huge expanses of hydrangea down to the beach and ponds of rare koi carp.
This otherworldliness is intensified by the wonderful variety of sub-tropical trees, which are surrounded by 18-foot-high gunnera, subtropical tree ferns, and palms. The garden is given further dimension through the architectural groves of huge Tasmanian tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica.
Trebah, like many gardens which benefit from the mild weather in Cornwall, does not retreat into hibernation during the winter. Even in mid-November, it flourishes, with pelargoniums and hydrangeas still in bloom.
By December, the early camellias and rhododendrons are in flower. The latter look stunning in the winter light, but there is something peculiarly arresting when the garden is coated in a thick layer of snow. Unfortunately, this last happened more than 30 years ago and is unlikely to take place in the near future.
Tel: +44 (0)1326 250448
Trebah is open every day of the year. Admission prices: between March and October, adult £5.00, OAP £4.50, child £3.00; between November and February, adult £2.50, OAP £2.25, child £1.50. Free to RHS members year round. Free to National Trust members between November and February.
Directions from Truro: take the A39 to Falmouth as far as junction with A394 at Treliever Cross Roundabout, then follow brown and white tourism signs to Trebah.
Directions from Helston: take the A394 to Falmouth as far as junction with A390 at Treliever Cross Roundabout. Turn right and follow brown and white tourism signs to Trebah.