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Places To Visit : Gardens : Headland Garden

Headland Garden

Polruan, Fowey PL23 1PW
T: 01726 870243

Headland Garden is yet another of Cornwall’s secrets which I discovered nestling on top of a cliff looking out across the Channel on one side and up the Fowey Estuary and over to Fowey on the other; a heavenly situation if ever there was one.

Jean Hill, who has lived in this enchanting haven for 36 years, welcomed me into her home where we chatted over a cup of coffee, before she showed me around. She told me that she and her husband moved to Polruan all those years ago into a house which was in disrepair and a garden which was a rock covered with weeds.

Headland Garden Headland Garden - Picture 1 Headland Garden - Picture 2 Headland Garden - Picture 3 Headland Garden - Picture 4

The couple set to with what was a mammoth task to create the garden they wanted. Mr Hill built all the many steps and walls himself whilst Jean (as she explained), as the unskilled hand armed with tin bath and scrubbing brush, washed each stone before it was put in place. The garden had very few plants, a couple of Monterey Pines and one or two shrubs, hebes, rosemary and broom. And with the help of a vast number of books on dealing with plants and exposure, Jean learnt bit by bit, what would grow and what wouldn’t. As she explains, this garden is not a plantsman’s arena but more, as I discovered, a place in which to sit and admire the magnificent views. There are many little nooks and crannies which have been created where one can just take in the beauty of the surroundings. That said there are a number of lovely plants which have not only survived but have flourished, all due to the caring hands of Jean and her husband;  building walls to protect the plants and planting other plants, such as sea buckthorn, euonymus, elaeagmus, escallionia, olearia to protect the more delicate species against the strong winds laden with salt.

On the south face many lampranthus blaze in June and July. Aloes, erigeron, argarve and aeoniums grow in crevices in the rocks. There are also low growing junipers and cupressus, red hot pokers grow between them and hebe hang from the rocks above. In spring there are wild wallflowers, foxgloves and primroses.

In the summer sun the osteospermum open its petals wide and the baby sun rose (aptinea cordifolia) shows as little cerise cushions. There are gums and wattles in Wattle Alley and Dracaena palms and phormiums rustle in the breeze.

It had never been the intention of the Hill’s to open their garden to the public however one sunny day about 30 years ago there was a speed boat race out of the harbour, and since they wanted to support the RNLI they decided they would open the garden just for that day to help raise some funds. The event was so successful they planned further openings, this time with their neighbours to give the visitors more to see. However sadly, this soon became somewhat tiresome; people used to arrive willy nilly and by sea and start to climb ‘in all over the place’ and it all became too difficult to control.

And so it was decided to open just one day a week in the Summer, which they do to this day, every Thursday from April to September, from 2pm to 6pm and tea is available in the garden. Groups come by appointment only. Adults £3.00 Children £1.00. And all proceeds go to the RNLI and NGS (National Garden Scheme).