Pencarrow House and gardens


Pencarrow’s gardens are a combination of formal landscaping and woodland walks, with attractive planting for both garden specialists and casual walkers. Shorter and longer walking loops are available, as well as some wheelchair access. After the Snowdrop Sundays in February, Pencarrow’s floral season begins in March with a dazzling display of camellias and rhododendrons (more than 600 varieties in total) which bloom through the spring. Bluebells and Wild Garlic carpet the woods in May/June; the Memorial Garden provides a summer display, followed by hydrangeas, fuchsias and azaleas into the autumn.

Points of interest include an Iron Age hill fort, sunken Italian Garden with a quatrefoil fountain, ice house, palm house, ancient Cornish cross, and a grotto, which is believed to have been a secret meeting place. The gardens were designed and laid out between 1831-55 by the radical statesman and later Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir William Molesworth, together with his head gardener, Thomas Corbett. Much of their collection came from botanical explorers such as Douglas, Lobb, and Wallich, and is particularly strong in trees – at one stage, Pencarrow’s woodland boasted a specimen of every conifer, except ten, considered hardy enough for the British climate.

To the left of the Italian Gardens is the first Victorian rock garden in England. Its great granite stones, now interplanted with shrubs and trees, were carted to Pencarrow by Bodmin Moor farmers grateful for Sir William’s staunch support in Parliament.

Pencarrow also has a special relationship with the towering Araucaria araucana, the first specimen of which was bought by Sir William Molesworth for 20 guineas and planted in solemn state before a house party. Noted barrister Charles Austin remarked upon touching its prickly leaves, “It would be a puzzle for a monkey”. His oft-repeated witticism gave the tree its common name of Monkey Puzzle.

 

 

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