The award was bestowed at the International Camellia Society's Congress in Chuxiong, Yunnan Province, China that Head Gardener Gary Long attended. Trewithen is one off only 30 gardens around the world to meet the strict award criteria.
Receiving a certificate from the International Camellia Society at a glittering ceremony, Gary said: "I am absolutely thrilled with the news. We were the only garden from the UK to be recognised this year and are now the only privately owned garden to have received the award in Cornwall."
Other recipients included gardens from America, Portugal, Australia and China.
"To be honoured in Yunnan Province, home of camellia reticulata, is even more special as camellias are totally ingrained in the Chinese culture," said Gary. "As conference delegates, we were treated to a red carpet, lined with brightly-coloured dancing girls, that must have been a mile long, presidential-style cavalcades and a range of special events. One of those was being taken to a temple built in honour of the camellia to watch a ceremony in which a chicken was sacrificed to mark the camellia coming into bloom. The whole experience was extraordinary and quite surreal.
"Trewithen deserves to be recognised because of its long association with 19th century plant hunters like George Forrest. The specimens sent back to Trewithen over 80 years ago are now well established and can be admired by visitors from March to September every year and, in keeping with the history of the gardens, I brought some seeds back which are being propagated in our nursery. More are going to be sent in the autumn to add to the collection."
As well as attending the five-day conference, Gary did an additional trek to Tengchong near the Burmese border where George Forrest was based for his plant collecting expeditions and where he died.
For more information, visit trewithengardens.co.uk or call the estate office on 01726 883647.
Ends 24 February 2012
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