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Places To Visit : Gardens : Paradise Park

Paradise Park

16 Trelissick Road, Hayle TR27 4HB
T: 01736 751020

Paradise Park is renowned for its birds but it also has extensive gardens and Tania Hopkinson went there to meet head gardener Chris Griffin.

Paradise Park was founded by the late Mike Reynolds in 1973 principally to house and breed rare and endangered exotic bird species, especially parrots.

The grounds extend to 14 acres around the Reynolds’ family home; previously owned by the Harvey family who had extensive business interests in and around Hayle during the 18th/19th century.

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The gardens in their present incarnation are designed to complement the aviaries as well as being an attraction in themselves. Paradise Park unlike most Cornish Estates is a summer garden, mainly because most of the visitors are young families who come in great numbers tied-in to school holidays. Also, the soil being alkaline, it is not suitable for ericaceous plants such as Rhododendrons and Camellias which of course, in Cornwall, flower in early spring.

Restrictive planting is used in front of aviaries so visitors can look-in, and the birds can peer out! So, ‘Agapanthus’, ‘Kaffir Lilies’ and ‘Crocosmia’ work well whereas ‘Bamboo’ and ‘Pampas Grass’ would be unsuitable.

A large succulent bed by the picnic lawn has thrived for many years with large specimens of Agave, Furcera and Puya. However, two successive cold winters have substantially damaged even these tough old stalwarts. Minus 9 degrees centigrade was reached back in January, along with snow of the soggy variety so major re-planting of that area will be required in the near future.

The Australia Aviaries in the Walled Garden are where Lorikeets can fly free and be fed nectar by visitors. There all the plants are from Australasia including ‘Chatham Island Forget-me-knots’, Olearia’ and ‘Bottle Brushes’.

Perversely, this area is the coldest part of the garden so recently a hole was punched in the granite wall and covered with a grille to allow some of the cold air to drain away after still, frosty nights.

Horticulturally, the most interesting part of the Walled Garden is the ‘Gazebo Garden’ designed by Head Gardener Christopher Griffin in 2004, a rather boring, tired old lawn was replaced by a gentle tiered area employing tons of grit and granite forming low retaining walls.

Here, three towering Eucalyptus Dalyrmpleana overshadow silvery Astelia. Close by a fine Trachycarpus’ palm shades clumps of white-spathed ‘Arum Lilies’. Close to the Gazebo itself a slow-growing ‘Butia Capitata’ palm with striking blue/green foliage. This palm would seem to be a better bet in our winters than the ‘Phoenix’ palms as no damage whatsoever has been noticed despite the frosts and gales.

Just outside the Walled Garden is a small butterfly garden, planted with the usual suspects i.e. ‘ Buddleia’, ‘Sedum’, and ‘Verbena Bonariensis’. Here the gardeners need not feel guilty about the clumps of stinging nettles that have been allowed – if these are the words – to spread unchecked(!) This area came about following the sad demise and fall of a magnificent Copper Beech that succumbed to the ravages of a storm a few years back.

Walking through the Long Pergola in summer draped in ‘Rosa Compassion’ and ‘Clematis Viticella’ the Parrot Jungle awaits.

Interlinked ponds and streams wind their way down hill through ‘Holm Oaks’, ‘Bamboo’, ‘Fatsias’ and ‘ Tree Ferns’. A thatched ‘Jungle Hut’ is a peaceful place to sit and watch the parrots do their thing in large, spacious aviaries. The soil in that area of the park is very poor and shallow so new plantings need to be well-mulched and fed and watered, as the dense tree cover hinders much of the summer rains’ progression through the canopy.

Koi and Mirror Carp inhabit the final pond in Parrot Jungle. Returning to the Picnic Lawn, here in good weather, the Free Flying Bird show takes place. Adjacent to the lawn is a brand new childrens’ play-area ‘Paradise Island’. Also nearby the Jungle Barn all-weather play-zone and café, gift-shop and plant-shop where many of the plants seen in the garden can be purchased between Easter and October. A large percentage of plants for sale are grown on site in the nursery.

Paradise Park is part of Hayle Town’s Britain-in-bloom entry and the final port of call when inspection day takes place.  So well done Hayle for all the awards merited and earned in both regional and national competitions.