Ivor Benoy, Trewithen's first HBGBS placement trainee, was tasked with re-instating the Cock Pit as a major feature of the garden.

Tackling the project in three stages, the first and most important was to research the history of the Cock Pit.

He said: "Thomas Hawkins, who owned the estate over 300 years ago, used it for cock fighting but it was when George Johnstone inherited the estate 200 years later that it was planted out as an added attraction in the garden. We then came across the article he'd written in the Royal Horticultural Society Journal, dated March 1937."

"We know that the Cock Pit was a major feature of the garden because George Johnstone gave over a large section of the article to detailing the structure and planting of the area. Therefore it was crucial to work from this article to restore the Cock Pit to its former glory."

The second phase, now complete, included re-building all of the terracing and re-creating planting bays either side of the pit.

Ivor said: "The main aim was to make the area more accessible to our visitors as in the past it has been somewhat overlooked. I have tidied up the existing plants and created better paths to make the area more inviting."

Finally, Ivor has selected some unusual varieties of plants including Podophyllum hexandrum var. chinense and Tricyrtis hirta, otherwise known as the "Toad Lily".

"Selecting the plants for this area has been an exciting time as I have had the inspiration of the Plant Hunters choosing exotic species from the Himalayas and West China. Different types of fern will also be planted to compliment the existing six Dicksonia Antarctica which were planted in 1906 and are the inspiration behind the present ‘Fernery' style planting. "This is a fantastic project to start with. I have been given a restoration project as well as the space to choose plants to add to the area. It is a lovely mix and to have used George Johnstone's article is very special."

Trewithen's Head Gardener, Gary Long, said:

"This is Ivor's first project for which he will achieve marks towards his final qualification. The process has been really beneficial and come next Spring, when the gardens re-open to the public, the Cock Pit will look stunning."