The Great Gardens of Cornwall
Published: Friday 2nd Mar 2018
Written by: Harriet Wills
The Great Gardens of Cornwall
With the frost and snow that we’ve all seen this week, it might just warm us all up to think that Cornwall’s great gardens have opened for Spring! Impacted by the warmth of the Gulf Stream, Cornwall’s gardens are home to rare, unusual and beautiful plants. And in case that didn’t tempt you, most are dog friendly and run events throughout the year.
A collection of the best-known, largest, most historically and horticulturally important gardens in Cornwall are collectively known as 'The Great Gardens of Cornwall'. This group of internationally renowned gardens comprise of private gardens, National Trust gardens and garden businesses. We invite you to step away from your own snow-covered garden and join us as we introduce you to 'The Great Gardens of Cornwall'.
Bonython Estate Walled Garden
Although the walled garden at Bonython Estate dates back to the late eighteenth century, by 1998 nothing remained of the original plantings or layout. Extensively remodelled and replanted over the last ten years, this unique garden now meanders around the sea-facing 1780’s Bonython Manor house.
From ornamental grasses to Proteas, this is a South African inspired garden. The herbaceous borders of the walled garden are lined with Alliums and Catmint in blues, purples, yellows and white.
We recommend - taking a stroll through the orchard of Cornish apple trees towards the lake and stop off at the thatched summerhouse for a cup of tea and homemade cake.
Caerhays Castle Gardens
Caerhays is an informal woodland garden overlooking the sea and extending to over 140 acres. The castle itself was designed by the famous Regency architect John Nash around 200 years ago with the gardens originating from the work of plant hunters in China at the start of the 20th century. Caerhays gardens are famous for their own varieties of Camellias and Magnolias - some of which are record size!
With historical holiday let conversions in the castle grounds why not stay at the beachfront Old Fish Sheds or within the castle itself in the Rabbit Warren flat.
We recommend – for the Poldark lovers amongst us, join a guided tour around the castle and learn all about its Cornish mining heritage.
The Eden Project
The Eden Project has quickly grown an international reputation as a truly unique, socially and scientifically important garden. Famous for its striking Biomes, these are the world’s largest greenhouses, built within a 50 metre deep crater. From seasonal menus, entertainment and the changing landscapes, there’s always a full programme of exhibits and events throughout the year.
We recommend - the Rainforest Aerial Walkway and walk amongst the tree canopy!
Constructed in three separate stages, the design of Lamorran Garden showcases a Mediterranean and water feature garden. You’ll spot Rhododendrons, Camellias and Azalea flowers during the spring months. But as Lamorran is home to over 200 Palms and a Tree Fern collection there’s plenty to see all year including Jasmines, Fuchsias, Citrus plants, Banana trees, Agaves, Yuccas and more!
Strolling through the woodland through to the Japanese water garden, you’ll come across exotic temple structures and archways whilst you take a moment to look out at the view over the bay.
We recommend - a pitstop on the terrace for a Cornish cream tea!
This magical, valley garden near Falmouth runs towards a secluded beach on the Helford river. A sub-tropical garden, it has about four miles of footpaths, a special children’s trails and is home to the tallest Chusan Palm in the UK.
From the 100-year-old Rhododendrons to the Giant Rhubarb tunnel, Trebah has a stunning coastal backdrop and is the result of 175 years of inspired and dedicated creation. Trebah’s china blue Hydrangea’s are the perfect spot for a family photo. Created by Charles Fox, the gardens play an important part in the history of the second world war, where Trebah’s beach was an embarkation point for the troops of 29th US Infantry Division who were destined for the assault landing on Omaha beach.
We recommend – view Trebah from a Helford cottage, click here.
Tresco Abbey Garden
If you’re thinking of taking a quick trip from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly during your trip to Cornwall, then the Tresco Abbey Garden is a gem. The Abbey was created in 1834 and has since been home to an extraordinary collection of plans from throughout the world. Meander through the “Higher and Lower Australia”, “Mexico” and “South Africa Cliff” garden zones to experience Palms, Bamboo, Cacti, Echium, Agapnthus, Flame-Trees and King Proteas.
We recommend - lingering in the garden’s Valhalla Museum. This is a unique collection of figureheads from ancient shipwrecks on show in a quiet corner of the Abbey Garden.
And now for some names you might not have heard of:
Trewithen is an historic private Estate with a world recognised collection of Camellias, Rhododendrons and Magnolias. Spring is the perfect time to see early flowering Magnolias on your woodland walk and stroll around the 18th Century house.
The towering conifers from the early Victorian Plant Hunters, combined with botanically important recent planting, has encouraged over 150 trees to reach champion status in the UK. Your magical woodland walk will take you past the old grain mill, walled garden and glasshouse.
A look around the private Tregothnan Estate, near Truro, will be a day to remember as it is home to England’s only tea plantation. It’s micro-climate, on the banks of the River Fal, has enabled many extraordinary fruit trees and rare plants to thrive.
We recommend – if you’re visiting Cornwall for Christmas pick your Christmas tree from their magnificent collection!
Situated on the Lands End peninsular, Trewidden was started by Edward Bolitho in the 1840’s. With tree ferns set within ancient tin workings, this is said to be the finest fern collection in the Northern Hemisphere. Look out for the ancient tin smelting kettles used as water features.
Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens
Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens is nestled in a sheltered valley and is the perfect spot for large scale exotic and sub-tropical planting. Such a dramatic landscape provides the ideal backdrop to inspirational artworks from internationally renowned artists such as James Turrell and David Nash.
National Trust gardens
The National Trust great gardens of Lanhydrock, Glendurgan, Antony, Cotehele, Trelissick and Trengwainton are amongst 'The Great Gardens of Cornwall' collection. Find out more here.
But to finish our 'Great Gardens of Cornwall' collection, this is a great garden you’ll all have heard of:
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
After decades of neglect, the Lost Gardens of Heligan were unveiled in 1992. See the towering Bamboo, Giant Rhubarb, ancient woodlands, sub-tropical jungle and Banana plantations. Produce grown at Heligan is delivered to the Heligan Kitchen where it is used in the daily lunchtime menu for you to round off the perfect outdoor adventure with a tasty treat.
We recommend - taking a selfie with the iconic mud-heads of course!
Cornish Horizons - We know holidays, we know Cornwall