GARDENS OF THE SOUTH WEST
Sitting at the bottom of Trebaha Glen you look out to the sea from the Helford River. The sky full of puffy grey and white clouds and is reflected in the multi colours of the sea’s deep blues and aquamarine, grey and marine blue.
The headland on the left is ablaze with gorse and the green of the small meadows which flow down to the tide’s edge. A sail boat makes it way into the Helford River surrounded by dolphins which leap and sport just a few feet from the boat.
I am surrounded by bluebells and red campions, primroses and other spring flowers of England.
It seems hard to believe looking at the sheer beauty which surrounds us that it was from this small cove that the 29th US Infantry Brigade embarked on 6 June 1944 heading for D Day and Omaha Beach. With images of the recent award winning film “Saving Private Ryan” the sheer beauty which surrounds me seems so incongruous. My images of that time seem in black and white not the beauty which surrounds me today.
The generation which took part in those times are now very elderly, my own born just after the War is now middle aged. To youth these things are long forgotten and perhaps unfortunately the values of those times have been pushed aside for sheer greed and triumphantness.
The land was here before any of us and these gardens which I sit in now were begun in 1826 by the Fox family of Falmouth who were a Quaker family of extraordinary energy and who created a number of famous gardens of the south-west.
Trebah Garden stands at the head of a 25 acre ravine, it is about 500 metres and drops 70 metres to the Helford Estuary. The garden in May is simply a riot of colours which takes away the breath – scarlet, pink and white rhododendrons, the flame colours of azaleas, and pinks and reds of Japanese azaleas. The air is heady with exotic scents and perfumes.
This garden is built around a winding path which meanders towards the beach. The glen is flanked by a multitude of different trees, pines, oaks, sycamores, beeches and exotic trees from around the world. These provide exotic pools and glades of sunshine, full of scent and aroma which is almost over-powering. The huge white rhododendron, perhaps 60 or 70 years old, leans upon its supports and fills the air with honey and an overtone of spice. The air is full and yet close up the flowers seem to give very little scent at all. How surprising nature can be.