Kestle Barton, Frenchmans Creek and Marvelous Eyebrows…

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.255-60)

I live in Humble Cottage and true to the nature of Humble I have  a small garden..i would love more garden but in life there is always compromise and in the spirit of this I feel like I extend my garden out into the land that lies outside of Humble Cottage and if there is anything that cornwall does well – it is gardens.

Last year I stumbled upon Kestle Barton after a a day full of delights meandering around the tracks from Helford Village to Frenchmens Creek (made famous from the Daphne Du Maurier novel of the same name) and beyond.

If you look at the map, and find Helford, you can walk north from Helford and then West alongside Frenchman’s Creek and then there is steep climb through the woods to Kestle Barton. On the way back there is a lovely old wood to have adventures within.

Kestle Barton is an ancient Cornish farmstead situated above the Helford River. The farmhouse and barns have been converted into a gallery and holiday cottages, whilst the farm itself continues its ancient role of food production – beef, orchards and a new walnut nuttery – but is managed in a benign, organic system to allow the rich and varied wildlife a full place within its agricultural purpose. Behind the gallery a small garden has been designed by James Alexander-Sinclair and it is this garden that I fell in love with.

Now Cornwall is full of amazing gardens so don’t go visiting Kestle Barton with the same approach. This is a garden to visit within a walk, or as a side contemplation alongside a gallery visit. It is a newish garden, and  a small garden. And it is its smallness that i love because it is here that it gives me inspiration, it is full but with still and reflective space within it, there is movement with its lofty toppling planting  and seed heads abundant dropping their offspring  for the year after. There is a natural flow but contradicted with steel sculptures that fix your viewpoint.  Favourites such as bronze fennel, verbena boniaris and cardoons jostle with less familiar perennials, such as persicarias and sanguisorbae.

Here are some pictures…



I visited Kestle Barton at the end of the season, my memory is slightly wavering, maybe the end of August, maybe the beginning of september – a perfect time as this was a garden planted for self seeding – so it was in the height of its majesty, laden with seeds, defying gravity and swaying in a light breeze. I’m looking forward to visiting it again, but in the meantime I recommend visiting James Alexander Sinclairs blog, not only is he a plantsman but it seem he is also a wordsmith.

Kestle Barton is an ancient farmstead and when i visited i had a slight feeling of deja vu. A few weeks later i remembered that I had seen a short film featuring an amazing Cornish farmer with the most amazing eyebrows and twinkle in his eye.

The farmers name is Boaden Lyne and in another world i would gladly greet him into my life as my new adopted grandfather.

(click on image to link to video)

His grandfather had bought Kestle Barton in the late 19th century, and this short film documents his memories on Kestle Barton.

If you watch this film, then walk the creeks, the woods nearby and then maybe stop for a drink in the gardens i can assure you there is no better way to spend your day in Cornwall.

Hope you enjoyed reading – keri – Humble Cottage x


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