Let me start with saying this is absolutely not the best shot I’ve taken and in general I’m pretty rubbish at landscape scenes. This picture does however have a good story behind it so settle in for a read of how an overheard conversation can take you literally around the world to somewhere special.
Some years ago when I was living in Brisbane I would often go “critter hunting” (macro photography for insects etc) in the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens and like most botanic gardens it has a Japanese Garden section. Its not huge and has all the usual accoutrements like bamboo, pond, a pagoda and of course a collection of bonsai trees. The pond area was a particularly good place to very, very patiently wait to photograph dragonflies. One day while waiting for a particularly troublesome and zippy dragonfly to land I lazily watched a group of extremely pale and sun burnt English tourists (well from the UK, I now think they were probably Welsh) and give the place a cursory once over. Then one of the group boomed out with:
Tis’ not as good as the one in Cornwall!
This was such a sufficiently weird statement it lodged in my brain as how on earth could a Japanese garden in the UK possibly be better that one literally in a sub tropical zone? Was this just the need for a UK tourist to one up Australia as is their general desire for most things? Were they suffering a particularly hallucinogenic form of sun stroke? Regardless of the reasons it stuck in my mind and became a fun tale to tell people and never failed to amuse me.
Fast forward several years and my fiancé and I decided we’d take a trip to the Europe and the UK. As part of the research for the trip we opted to research this apparently fantastic Japanese garden in Cornwall, mostly for laughs. Turns out there is one in Cornwall. And it is actually pretty famous. So much so it is literally called The Japanese Garden. So what could we do? We had to find out if the tourist was right after all, our patriotic duty to once and for all show that Mt Coot-tha was in fact better than Cornwall. So onto the itinerary it went and indeed such an important part of the trip it was we had to re-order how we were going to travel through the UK as it only opened on the first of March which was at the very end of our trip.
Then finally earlier this year we went on our 6 week trip through Europe and had a generally fantastic time. The last 10 days we spend in the UK, starting with Edinburgh, Scotland and the more or less out running the hell away from the “Beast From The East” out through to the west and south until we finally arrived in a surprisingly very pleasant Cornwall on the 6th of March. After some driving through the somewhat insanely tight and windy roads that are such a feature of the UK we arrived at The Japanese Garden.
And well.. it is a gods damn delight. A truly gorgeous and wonderfully planted place with water features, moss everywhere, wild flowers, statues and all levels of insane beauty. It was offset by an extremely British field next door filled with sheep, lambs and pheasants. Out the back of the gardens themselves is a rambling wood that can also be accessed but we didn’t have the time. I would absolutely go back there in a heart beat when I have some more time and possibly a little later in the spring.
My only advice if you want to visit it is bring some food with you (there’s no cafe on site and not a lot in the immediate area) and be aware they have no toilet facilities. They do disclose this quite clearly on their website and suggest some nearby public alternatives. If you’d like to see some much better photographs from the garden than mine I’d suggest checking out their website or Instagram feed.
So here’s to you Mr Random UK Tourist – I concede defeat and fully admit the Japanese Garden in Cornwall is clearly the superior victor and I for one and roundly glad that you opted to declare it loudly and in such a gloriously silly fashion that I was compelled to take this trip.