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Cornwall - Tregothnan
England's First Tea Plantation
Lying beside a steep inlet of the River Fal, six miles from Truro, is Tregothnan, England's largest private botanic garden in a 20,000 acre estate that has been for almost 700 years the seat of the Viscount Falmouth, the Boscawen family.
Wandering through Tregothnan is a magical world tour: The South American garden has collections from Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, whilst the Southern Hemisphere Garden could be somewhere in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales with eucalyptus, tree ferns and the Dinosaur tree, the Wollemi pine from the Jurassic era.
In the early 19th century the family commissioned the import of camellias and were the first to grow them successfully outdoors. Now over 40 feet high, the camellias line Tregothnan's avenues, arc over lawns and hedge its stone walls with blooms of blowsy pink to a maiden's blush.
So successful has Tregothnan been at growing camellias for the past 20 years, that it occurred to the Hon. Evelyn Boscawen and the Garden Director, Jonathon Jones that they might try their hand at growing another species of camellia, Camellia sinensis - otherwise known as tea.
Ten years on, there are 20 acres under cultivation, with anticipated production this year of ten tonnes of green, white, black and scented and herbal teas. "The conditions in the valley, 80 metres above sea level, mimic the Himalayas", says Mr Jones. "It's the perfect environment".
The garden opens to the public only once a year for charity, and the rest of the year by private appointment. The tea house and the shop at Tolverne, on the water's edge, however, are open daily from February to October and weekly in the winter. Meanwhile, the tea is sold on the internet year-round, together with their own home-produced Manuka honey. Likewise Tregothnan's hand-tied bouquets, one of the few suppliers of flowers grown only in the UK. Eluned Price
Norfolk - Wolterton Park, Norwich
Over twenty miles of waymarked public footpaths and permissive paths run around Mannington and Wolverton.
The Park at Wolterton surrounds the eighteenth century house and all that remains of St. Margaret‘s Church is the tower. The area is left rough for wildlife and little is known of the church‘s history though it is first mentioned in Domesday Book. The North Park holds the site of Wolterton village with the village pond still visible. The Moat Pond is home to a variety of waterfowl and Wolterton Lake itself was created in the 1720‘s from an earlier water feature. The woodland behind the Horse Pond was laid out in its present form in 1733.
Wolterton Park is open every day for walks with views of the lake and Hall.
For further information telephone 01263 584175
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