The mild climate and the damp valleys that are quite common in Cornwall are perfect for certain kinds of plants. Big and exotic looking ones! Majestic tree ferns, prickly giant gunnera and giant bamboos that tower above you like enormous trees. The valley garden at Cotehele is full of these kind of plants creating a wonderful jungle feel.
The entrance to the valley garden from the terraced garden is through a tunnel that runs under a path dividing the formal terrace garden and the valley. At the top of the valley a medieval stew pond is overlooked by a summerhouse with views down the valley. Alongside this, a fine stone dovecote with a beautiful domed roof. Both of these features would originally have provided sources of food during the winter months, thankfully the doves and fish are purely ornamental these days.
A stream runs from the top of the valley flowing into a pool before cascading into another, then another before finally reaching the Tamar at the bottom. The constant water provides the perfect damp atmosphere for the plants to flourish, but also adds a wonderful soothing sound as you wander through the garden. Cotehele isn’t the biggest valley garden I’ve visited – but it’s intimacy is truly enchanting, well worth a visit.