The English county of Cornwall is home to a trove of tourist treats. There are the villages once frequented by smugglers and others by romantic fictional heroes. There is also some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Britain.
Is it any wonder so many celebrated authors set their novels in this wild and beautiful south-western corner of the “sceptred isle”? They include Daphne Du Maurier (Jamaica Inn), Rosamunde Pilcher (Coming Home and The Shell Seekers), Virginia Woolfe (To The Lighthouse), JB Priestly (An Inspector Calls), and Winston Graham (the classic Poldark series).
But too many tourists, searching out the scenes about which they have read, miss out on one of most stunning Cornish aspects, the Bosvigo Gardens on the outskirts of the picturesque town of Truro.
The gardens, in the grounds of the historic Bosvigo House, are the brainchild of local artist Wendy Perry. She bought the run-down property in 1969 and, in a labour of love, has transformed both the building and gardens.
Nothing remains of the original dwelling other than a reputed collective of former resident ghosts. There is evidence of at least seven phases of expansion, with a restored Victorian conservatory one of the major attractions.
Wendy’s dream of a summer garden, that would still be bathed in striking hues in both spring and autumn, has been achieved with the nurturing of a host of rare and unusual plants in a series of separate walled gardens brimming with flowers which bloom in different seasons.
The gardens’ 2018 opening is next weekend, with the Hellibore Festival. The hellibores, or so-called Lenten roses – so named because they usually make an appearance at the time of the Christian season of Lent – come in all colours.
Most of those at Bosvigo are unique, as they have been grown from seeds spawned by hand-pollination. The garden’s finale in August and September is a “fireworks display” of flora as the Northern Hemisphere winter approaches.
Wendy Perry wanted a way to commemorate the death of her daughter, Hannah, in the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. Through the gardens, she supports the international charity, ShelterBox, which aids people affected by natural disasters. Initially she financed two boats, named after Hannah, to help the local fishermen in Thailand to re-build their lives. Now the charity pays for survival kits, including tents, for victims who have lost their homes.