Camellia Collection

Camellias have most probably been grown at Trewidden since the 1850’s and the Western Plantation still contains three venerable old specimens which are almost certainly of Victorian origin. The current collection (over 250) is the work of Michael Snellgrove who was the last Head Gardener to work for Mary Williams. Michael spent many years building the collection from the 1970’s to the 1990’s and created a nursery specialising in Camellias. Plants came from many sources including the likes of Ackerman and Nuccio’s in the US and Trehanes and J. Carlyon of Tregrehan from the UK. In 2018 Trewidden was awarded the International Camellia Society ‘Garden of Excellence’ award joining the likes of Exbury, Mount Edgecumbe and Trewithen Gardens on this prestigious list. Most of our cultivated varieties are specimens of Camellia japonica and Camellia x williamsii but other species include C. saluenensis, C. talienesis, C. reticulata, C. nitidissima, and C. grisjii. We were one of the first to grow the ‘Tea’ Camellia (C. sinensis var. sinensis) our plant coming from Norman Haddon’s garden in Porlock, Somerset in the early 1980’s. The collection is always expanding with recent additions including seed collected from wild forms of C. japonica sourced in Kyushu, Japan.

The Wilson 50 Kurume Azaleas

Ernest H. Wilson is considered one of the most successful plant hunters to have worked in the early part of the 20th century. In 1918 he visited Kurume in Southern Japan and selected 50 of the finest Azaleas from the nursery of Mr Kijiro Akashi and had them sent to the Arnold Arboretum (Harvard), they arrived in the spring of 1919. Copies of the collection were then sent to England in the early 1920’s where the plants were established in at least three locations. Since this time plants have been lost and mis-named and the ‘50’ have most likely been incomplete outside of Kurume for at least sixty years. After more than ten years work Trewidden now has 46 of the 50 and the final four are in the final stages of being sourced/confirmed. The collection is being established in the newly named Kurume Bowl which is adjacent to the Tree Fern Pit and will make a significant addition to the garden plantings.


Trewidden contains some fine specimens of Magnolia, five of them are designated ‘Champion Trees’ by the Tree Register. Magnolia x veithcii ‘Peter Veitch’ situated by the pond this tree was most likely planted in the early 1920’s. It produces goblet shaped white flowers tinged with pink in April. Magnolia obovata this tree was planted in 1893 and is a champion for its girth. The tree flowers in early summer and has highly fragrant, cream coloured, thick waxy flowers. Magnolia ‘Trewidden Belle’ is our very own hybrid tree which produces large dark pink/magenta flowers in late winter/early spring, unfortunately this is quite often before the garden opens to the public in February. Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta situated in the Northern part of the Tree Fern Pit produces large white floppy flowers tinged with pink in March. Magnolia dawsoniana situated in the Southern part of the Tree Fern Pit this Magnolia flowers in March/April with small pink flowers bearing many strap like tepals. There are other Magnolias within the garden and new species are continually added to the collection. The latest additions are a number of Asian, evergreen, summer flowering species that have only recently been introduced to cultivation.

The Tree Ferns

Set within an ancient open cast tin mine are an outstanding group of Soft Tree Ferns (Dicksonia antarctica). This species of Tree Fern is native to South Eastern Australia and Tasmania and often grows as an understorey plant beneath larger trees such as Eucalyptus. Our Ferns were planted in 1902 having been collected by the Treseders of Truro in Australia in 1898. All of the smaller Tree Ferns that now grow at Trewidden are juveniles from these original mother plants. The natural bowl of the pit provides adequate moisture even in dry summers for the ferns to thrive. We consider this one of the finest stands of Dicksonia antarctica in the Northern Hemisphere due to it’s setting within ancient mine workings, the size of the ferns, known provenance and the presence of two ‘Champion’ Magnolias providing the dappled shade needed for optimum growth.