The Morrab House stable block, which is the location of the proposed Gardeners' House, a home at the heart of Morrab Gardens for all things gardening

Gardeners’ houses from Morrab to Sandringham: Julia Grigg's Morrab Miscellany

Taking her cue from the project to restore an unused building in Morrab Gardens, Julia takes a virtual tour of Gardeners’ houses – from modest cottages to the grandest estates – around Britain.

G is for GARDENERS’ House.

In Morrab Gardens The Gardeners’ House (formerly the stable block) is across the courtyard to the right of the entrance to the Library. The building, sizeable, flat-fronted, about 180 years old, is not in the best state of repair.

The Morrab House stable block, which is the location of the proposed Gardeners' House, a home at the heart of Morrab Gardens for all things gardening
The old Stable Block in Morrab Gardens, not in the best state of repair, is to be restored and re-purposed as The Gardeners’ House Photo: Paul Brett

The Gardeners’ House – Penzance charitable organisation

The Friends of Morrab Gardens is one of the local partners – with the Gardeners’ House – Penzance, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) – dedicated to raising funds to restore and re-purpose the building. The aim, via the setting up of the CIO, is to establish a home at the heart of Morrab Gardens for all things gardening, including a learning centre for botanical and horticultural projects, a Natural History Reading Room, a lecture hall and communal activity spaces.

An architect's visualisation of the refurbished Gardeners' House

The project has received seed money from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The website www.thegardenershouse.org will carry the latest information.

Horticultural resource to be housed at The Gardeners’ House

As well as being an exciting new venue for the community of Penzance, facilitating innovative public education activities and training opportunities, The Gardeners’ House will house an important horticultural resource in its Reading Room: the Hypatia Natural History Collection. Penzance-based Hypatia Trust (www.hypatia-trust.org.uk) is a UK registered charity supporting and promoting women’s achievements. (Wait for my next blog – 15 April – under the letter ‘H’ for more about this.) The Natural History Collection, comprising books, papers and ephemera showing how women have recorded the botanical, horticultural, photographic and artistic aspects of the Cornish landscape, focusses in on gardens and gardening techniques through history to the present day.

Should you do a Google search for ‘Gardener’s House’ you’ll find the Morrab Gardeners’ House among a plethora of images, many very charming. Many, as you’d expect, are in garden settings. Many are holiday lets.

Self-catering possibilities opening up this month all being well, now’s the time to investigate staying in such a place.

From a humble Gardeners’ Cottage . . .

Here, for example, find the details for renting a Gardener’s Cottage in Cornwall: www.tremainegreen.co.uk. In a secluded hamlet near Looe, the cottage is a hideaway for just two, single storey and solidly granite built, with beamed ceilings and interesting-looking gardening implements such as an ancient scythe used in the décor.

Staying here, it’s only a few miles to Mount Edgcumbe House at Torpoint for a visit to its famous shell grotto and gardens designed in the English, French and Italian styles of C18th – 20th.

Or to the National Trust property Lanhydrock House, Bodmin, a stately home encircled by a garden of rare shrubs and trees set within 1000 acres of wooded parkland.

. . . to a Royal Head Gardeners’ House

Then, in a contrast of location and style for a holiday rental, far to the east in Norfolk, there’s the Garden House at HM The Queen’s Sandringham Estate. Information on Tripadvisor describes this handsome redbrick House, formerly the Queen’s Head Gardener’s home and set in a fabulous garden, as ‘spacious, relaxed accommodation for eight over two floors’, with the added frisson of all furniture and pictures having once belonged in a royal residence.

From here it’s a 40 miles drive to visit Norwich, where an intriguing restored Victorian garden awaits you at The Plantation Garden. Features include creative planting, woodland paths, a Gothic fountain, an Italianate terrace, a summerhouse and rustic bridge.

G is for GARLIC

Cornwall’s many damp woodland areas mean wild garlic can be easily foraged at this time of year. All you need is to follow your nose to find its highly-scented, edible green shoots pushing up alongside paths and around tree bases.

The verdant valley of the Fowey River, described as ‘one of Cornwall’s magical rivers’, is an ideal place for gathering your garlic. Should you need a GUIDE for planning an expedition, Liz Hurley covers this area comprehensively with maps and helpful information in Book 2 of her Cornish Walks series under the title Walking in the Fowey Area (Mudlark’s Press 2018.)

The view looking out over the Fowey estuary from the path known as Hall Walk
Where the ‘magical’ Fowey river flows to meet the sea: this path, known as Hall Walk, is an ideally damp and shaded environment for finding wild garlic growing. Photo: J Spry-Leverton

Garlic is claimed as antibacterial, antibiotic and helping to reduce blood pressure, so what’s not to like about adding a free helping or two of the wild variety to your cuisine?
Eat garlic leaves raw in salads.
Or use two handfuls of the green shoots to stuff a chicken. Baste well throughout the cooking time for an aromatic roast.

Or to have a supply of garlic butter readily to hand: finely chop 50g of the leaves. Mash them into 250g of softened unsalted butter and mix in ½ teaspoon of flaky sea salt. Roll and shape the mixture into a log and wrap well in greaseproof paper.

The butter will keep in the freezer for a month. Cut off a slice whenever you want to top vegetables such as steamed courgettes or oven-roasted tomatoes, stir into a soup or even spread on toast beneath your scrambled eggs.

G is for KHALIL GIBRAN

‘Go to your fields and your gardens and you shall learn .. that to the bee a flower is a fountain of life, and to the flower a bee is a messenger of love’

Lebanese-American author Gibran’s (1883-1931) simple, direct style revolutionised modernist Arabic literature. In 1923 The Prophet was published, its short, didactic chapters of limpid poetry capturing the great themes of human life: love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, death. Illustrated with Gibran’s own drawings, the book was dismissed by the critics but its teachings were massively popular worldwide. Remaining so today, the book (Suzeteo 2019), translated into 100 languages, has never been out of print.

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