Antony Woodland Garden: A Story of Stunning Woodland, Glorious River Views, Camellias and The Historic Antony Estate

One of Cornwall’s best kept garden secrets

 

Welcome to Antony Woodland Garden, one of South East Cornwall’s best kept secrets, and most captivating spring gardens. Just a short hop from Plymouth, Antony Woodland Garden offers a peaceful retreat from everyday life, perfect for a woodland picnic or a serene stroll along the river bank. Modern pieces by internationally renowned sculptors are hidden amongst the camellia, magnolia, rhododendron and azalea blooms, just waiting to be discovered. The garden brims with character and is split into two distinct areas, ‘The Wilderness’ and ‘West Down Wood’, which are connected by meadows.

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A magical Cornish garden

 

The Wilderness is a wonderful expanse of woodland that runs down to the water split out with allées, treating visitors to far-reaching views over the Lynher estuary, out towards Ince Castle and Antony Passage. The water’s shimmering backdrop gives the garden the illusion of limitless space; a garden without a wall. Glorious carpets of bluebells fight for prominence with wild garlic, while the pale yellow primroses take over the ground.

The hidden woodland valley garden of West Down Wood was started in 1947, and developed gradually over the following 80 years, progressing in tune with nature and in rhythm with the plants themselves. Impressive banks of glossy evergreen camellias coat the sloping valley, and Asiatic magnolias rise up like colourful beacons from the valley floor.

The Wilderness and West Down Wood are linked by playful paths that meander through the meadows and along the river bank. In contrast to the wild abandon of the woods, the more formal areas of the gardens feature daffodils, ornamental trees and glorious flowering shrubs.

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Antony Woodland Garden begins its journey towards becoming a Great Garden of Cornwall

 

Antony House is the seat of the Carew Pole family, known as the Pole Carews until the 1920s, who entrusted the stately home and formal garden to the National Trust back in 1961. Antony Woodland Garden is a 60 acre sanctuary, owned and run by the Carew Pole Charitable Garden Trust.

The estate has been in the Carew family since the sixteenth century, however construction didn’t begin on Antony House until 1711. Humphry Repton, a great friend of Rt. Hon. Reginald Pole-Carew, came to Antony in 1792 and made suggestions for development in his famous Red Book. The two men worked together to conceptualise and create the magic of Antony Woodland Garden. They introduced swathes of colour with scores of rhododendrons, and later introduced a variety of camellias, magnolias and more modern hybrid rhododendrons.

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An International Camellia Garden of Excellence and so much more

 

Antony Woodland Garden is now home to over six hundred different varieties of camellias, including sasanquas which flower as early as October. It is an International Camellia Garden of Excellence, one of only a handful in the UK, and holds a National Collection of Camellia japonica. Almost 250 varieties of magnolia adorn the garden, and during spring bloom the garden is alight with colour and fragrance. The woodland nature of the garden makes it the ideal environment for hydrangeas, rhododendrons, celandines, primroses, bluebells, campion and wild garlic to flourish.

Although a separate entity to Antony House, a visit to Antony Woodland Gardens is imbued with the history of the Antony estate. You’ll come across the Fishful Pond designed by Richard Carew (1555-1620), an ingenious tidal inlet originally built as a fish trap, but now providing a wonderful habitat for reed buntings. You may also pass the Georgian Pond Bath house which was constructed in 1789 and offers a glimpse into life on the estate centuries ago.

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A dreamlike setting where the River Lynher flows into the Tamar Estuary

 

The mudflats of the tidal River Lynher create the ideal environment for both sea and river birds to rest and feed. Looking out at the river you may spot oystercatchers, grey herons, egrets, cormorants and shelducks. Glance up and you may see buzzards and kestrels gracefully patrolling overhead. The view across the river to the Tamar, and the artistic arches of Brunel’s Royal Albert Rail Bridge is a glorious sight.

Antony Woodland Garden is one of the most horticulturally spectacular gardens in Cornwall, and one that we urge you to experience. As a spring garden, there is no better time to visit Antony Woodland Garden than right now. This is the season to see Antony Woodland Garden in all of its glory, an undisputed heavyweight amongst the great Cornish gardens, and a well-kept secret just waiting to be told.

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