Re-opening of Old Park Wood
An extensive programme of restoration and clearance in Old Park Wood on the Caerhays estate in Cornwall will add thirty acres of woodland garden and at least an extra mile of paths for visitors to enjoy.
When the gardens open for the 2013 spring season, people will be able to enjoy views that have not been accessible to the public for more than 30 years.
Elderly trees had fallen, paths had become overgrown and impassable, windbreaks had collapsed and the tree canopy had become too dense for plants to thrive.
It was, said Charles Williams, owner of the estate, “truly a lost garden.”
The main spring garden in Castle Wood at Caerhays covers 120 acres and has been open to the public since 1992. It is a hugely popular attraction, bringing people in from Cornwall and much further afield.
Creating Old Park Wood started in the early 1900s. In this, and two other gardens on the estate, many thousands of plants newly introduced from southern China, were laid out.
These varieties had been brought back from plant hunting expeditions by Ernest Wilson and George Forrest, on behalf of J C Williams, then owner of the estate.
It has taken two years of hard work to bring Old Park Wood back in to a state that visitors can enjoy.
Paths have been improved, fallen trees removed and large areas opened up for new planting and to reveal stunning views.
Seedlings of Magnolia cambelli Alba and Magnolia mollicomata Lanarth can be seen and the long-established Camellia japonicas can be admired where they thrive on the steep slopes.
Another prominent feature of Old Park Wood are the beds of gunnera, which are an imposing element of the landscape.
Head gardener and estate manager, Jaimie Parsons, has been at the forefront of the restoration. He believes visitors will be excited by what they find.
“People will be able to look down over the woods from various viewpoints and imagine themselves trekking through China, seeing the plants much as they grow in their native country,” he said.
Old Park is an ancient part of the estate and there is still a large amount of work to be done to restore its former glory – and to improve access.
Work done to date has been part-funded by European grants from the Rural Development Programme for England. Three ponds and several buildings and structures, currently dilapidated, will also be restored should grants be available.
Visitors will find much to admire, including many mature magnolias, rhododendrons and camellias but they are advised that it is a work in progress and there is still a great deal of restoration and clearance to be done. It is hoped that the programme of work will be completed later this summer.
“Because of the wet weather we have not been able to do all that we would have wanted to do. Some of the ground is still very wet so gum boots will most probably be advisable,” said Jaimie.
The gardens open on the 18th of February to the 16th of June.
Burncoose Nurseries, near Redruth, is part of the Caerhays estate and is a highly successful Cornish business, serving customers locally and, via the web, throughout the whole country and overseas.
Local customers can now take advantage of a loyalty card, just introduced for 2013.
Visitors to Caerhays or Burncoose can pick up a card after visiting the gardens or buying plants. Every time they buy something, their card is marked and it entitles them to a discount on their next purchase and free entry to Burncoose gardens.
“It’s a two-way process,” said Burncoose nursery manager, Andrew Mills.
“The card will encourage people to visit us and when they do, they will enjoy benefits, including price reductions. And these days, that’s a very welcome bonus.”
Further information on the web site: www.caerhays.co.uk
Press contact: Lucinda Rimmington on 01872 501310 or Paul White (see below).