Explore the valley garden

Visitors bridge Glendurgan jungle

Three valleys join into one and lead down to the old fishing village of Durgan at the foot of Glendurgan. These highlights of an anticlockwise walk along Glendurgan’s paths provide an insight to what awaits to be discovered throughout the different seasons.

This circular route involves steep slopes and multiple steps. There is a buggy and wheelchair friendly route on the left side of the garden, encompassing some of the following areas, details of which are highlighted on the property map available in reception.
 

Entrance route & Camellia walk

Entering the property via the visitor welcome building, visitors are treated to a display of colour and mixed planting along the entrance route which has been replanted by the garden team in recent months. Offering a splash of colour no matter the season, many of the plants along this route are available to purchase in our plant centre. The path along the entrance route blends into Camellia Walk, displaying a mixture of different varieties of Camellia. Early varieties start flowering in late autumn however early spring is the time to see them at their best and means Glendurgan reopens each February to a stunning display of colourful Camellias.

Senior Gardener Martin Hindley at Glendurgan
Senior Gardener Martin Hindley weeding along Glendurgan's entrance route
Senior Gardener Martin Hindley at Glendurgan

Holy bank

Passing the small fish pond and following the upper path it is possible to catch a glimpse of the Helford River as the view draws the eye down the valley. Along here is a collection of trees with religious connotations, such as Crown of Thorns and Judas Tree. An ancient magnolia Magnolia x veitchii 'Peter Veitch' sits proudly at the top of Holy bank, watching over the maze and pond below along with carpets of wildflowers which adorn this area from late winter through to late spring. Look out for daffodils and primroses at the start of the year, changing to bluebells, wild garlic, rhododendrons, gladioli, aquilegias and wild orchids as we head into the warmer days of spring.

Wildflowers overlooking the maze at Glendurgan
Colourful wildflowers cover a bank at Glendurgan, the maze is in the background and surrounded by a variety of trees on either side.
Wildflowers overlooking the maze at Glendurgan

Olive grove and apple orchard

Tucked away en route to the school room sits the Olive Grove and Glendurgan’s little-known apple orchard. The Fox family successfully tended the area to produce a bounty of fruits and vegetables many years ago. In the orchard today are still local varieties of apples, figs, pecans, pears and critus fruits, as well as three bee hives with an active colony of honeybees. An area eager to be explored, there are grass paths mowed amongst the apple trees during the warmer months which visitors are encouraged to explore. 

Apples growing at Glendurgan's apple orchard
Apples growing at Glendurgan's apple orchard
Apples growing at Glendurgan's apple orchard

School room and Giant's Stride

Following the path through the Olive Grove one arrives at the old school room, used by Sarah Fox to educate her children until 1842. The building you see today was re-created in 2001 by the Fox family as well as the garden team and children from the local primary school. The windows you can see in the building are the originals from 1829.

Further along the path from the school room sits the Giant's Stride, a giant maypole swing popular with both grown ups and children. Characterised by the shrieks of delight often coming from this corner of the garden, the more people who stride around the centre pole, the more fun it provides.

Visitors enjoying the Giant's Stride
People swing from a rotating rope swing in a wooded clearing at Glendurgan near Falmouth in Cornwall
Visitors enjoying the Giant's Stride

The lower valley

Capturing the character of exotic far away countries such as New Zealand and Bhutan, the inspiration for developing this area came from gardeners’ and Fox family travels over the decades. The plants that continue to thrive here do so due to the similar temperate climate experienced in their country of origin and feature giant rhubarb, impressive bamboo and banana plants.

Visitors on the bridge at Glendurgan's lower valley
Visitors bridge Glendurgan jungle
Visitors on the bridge at Glendurgan's lower valley

That magnificent maze

Glendurgan’s ancient cherry laurel hedge maze sits at the heart of the garden and is the true fabric of Glendurgan, puzzling visitors for generations and providing much joy and delight for those who choose to get lost along its many winding paths. While the maze appears healthy from a distance, it's going through a significant process of restoration to see its paths and steps reinstated and in due course, the hedges thoroughly cut back to promote healthy regrowth. You can read more about the ongoing project here.

Glendurgan's cherry laurel hedge maze
The wavy hedges of Glendurgan maze in Cornwall seen from above
Glendurgan's cherry laurel hedge maze

Cherry orchard

Sitting in the quirky boat seat and following the stream as it flows through the orchard, this peaceful area is perfect for taking a break to take in the surroundings. Featuring handkerchief trees, cherry blossom and some stunning varieties of magnolia, the main highlights in this area are snowdrops in February and March, followed by carpets of bluebells in April and May. During the warmer months the garden team mow grass paths through the orchard for visitors to wander along and enjoy a quiet moment on one of the benches or spot a myriad of butterflies or dragonflies in summer.

Spring in Cherry Orchard at Glendurgan
a grass path leads through the garden at Glendurgan surrounded by bluebells and a flowering cherry tree in the foreground
Spring in Cherry Orchard at Glendurgan

The Tulip tree

Sitting proudly towards the top of the valley garden is Glendurgan’s oldest tree, the Tulip tree Liriodendron Tulipifera. At almost 190 years old, this grandfather of Glendurgan watches over the lower valleys of the garden and provides a stunning display in different seasons. In late June its flowers appear in hues of lime green and orange, presenting a display in likeness to mini cups and saucers perched at the edges of its branches. As autumn approaches the giant green leaves take on bright gold tones and signal the end of another year at Glendurgan as the garden prepares to close for winter.

Tulip tree flowers at Glendurgan
Tulip tree in flower at Glendurgan
Tulip tree flowers at Glendurgan
Tulip tree in autumn
The thick trunk and branches of a tulip tree is silhouetted against an autumn sky with yellow leaves at Glendurgan in Cornwall
Tulip tree in autumn