The map shows the property is aligned roughly north-west to south east and is 1.02 acres in size. The buildings in the south-west corner are the garage, workshop and old gunpowder store, which dates back to the 1870s as far as we can tell. The northern boundary is a Devon bank and beyond it is the Morwelldown Plantation, mainly dense conifers. To the west of the B3257 road is an old mine dump which is mainly unworkable arsenic-rich ore from East Wheal Russell mine, and is covered in trees which protect Higher Morwell from the prevailing westerly wind. The active parts of the garden are the north-east, north-west, south-east and the part to the west of the main building, which is our equivalent of a ‘front garden’. The south-west area occupied by the buildings is all gravelled, and additional to the map there is also a small greenhouse and a potting shed. Our polytunnel is in the south-east of the garden, almost in the corner.
At one time there was a path crossing the grass, starting from a gate to the road on the left then towards the front door of the house, which was halfway along the wall facing the road. There are also buried concrete steps leading down to the path from the house. The orange azalea is one of the garden highlights when in flower in May and we are trying to produce clones from cuttings. Gaps in the flowering shrubs against the Devon bank at the front have been filled with transplants from other parts of the garden. Apart from the attractive flowers the shrubs act as a deterrent to deer jumping the bank.
Left is how this part looked when we moved in. There is a mass of overplanted trees and shrubs, overshadowed by a dense leylandii hedge on the south fence border. The soil is very fertile, once the myriad of stones are removed. This corner was cultivated as a market garden many years ago.
2016 saw the erection of the polytunnel, right, and a start on clearing some of the overcrowding. Two beds for vegetable growing were cleared too.
2017 and all the leylandii have gone, the trees thinned down to a willow and a field maple, and the growing beds expanded, fenced to keep out rabbits, and a path laid between them. This area has seen most of the work so far, and it is planned to add three more growing beds and a fruit cage. At some time the whole area has to be walled off too to protect the plants.
This part of the garden was just grass with one large squat yellow cypress and a dying plum tree. Our initial efforts with it have been to create a wildflower patch which is seeded then left all summer to reward us with meadow flowers. Between the wildflower patch and the cypress we have removed the dying plum and replaced it with two pear trees, a new plum and a ‘patio’ apple that came from Warwick with us.
The wildflower patch, for one reason or another, has failed both in 2016 and 2017. We will try again in 2018. The yellow cypress will be removed sometime and a hedge put in place to mark a boundary between the fruit trees and the planned wooden gazebo in the space next to the big cypress trees. In front of that we are thinking of planting a bed of ornamental grasses suitably fenced from the rabbits. The east border here is a problem inasmuch as the neighbouring field is overrun with brambles which can’t wait to get into our garden. The fence has partly blown down in 2016 and the rest is rather past its best but it does at present keep the brambles out most of the time. The trees in the Devon bank to the north are mainly oak and beech and have overgrown the garden, we are in the process of cutting them back to let more light in and less leaf-fall in autumn.
In the 1980s this was an award- winning area of the garden. The surrounding trees have grown and cut out the light that kept the beds growing. The result is stunted trees and shrubs that never flower. Our water main inlet pipe had to be replaced in January 2016, straight through here.
The bluebells (English not Spanish!) are a delight in Spring, and the Hydrangea produces its lavender flowers very late and keeps going almost to Christmas. But there is a lot to do in this area to restore what we can only imagine as former glories, and it will mean cutting down most of the trees that are next to the road to let in more light. We have planted laurel alongside the Devon bank, again to deter the deer from jumping over, and it is growing well. There is a massive rhododendron there too that seemed to do nothing but this year had three small bunches of purple flowers. The five trees in the bed seen at the top (the shrub in the middle has been removed) are not in the best of health either. At least two are earmarked for removal. The scars from the water pipe replacement have now largely healed and we will be bringing the professional tree loppers back to remove the hazel trees next to the road in stages over the next few years. More light regenerating past glories is our hope.