Cornwalls Great Gardens
Cornwall is well-known for its glorious gardens that thrive here owing to the mild costal climate, the warmth coming from the Gulf Stream. Over the years the region has been a haven for amateur and professional gardeners keen to create some incredible gardens.
Over the years many of Cornwall’s residents travelled overseas and brought back with them an interesting and diverse variety of exotic and rare plants, trees, shrubs and flowers. This resulted in a number of amateur and professional gardeners who created innovative and spectacular gardens.
We are now reaping the rewards with the incredible gardens there are here. These gardens are home to many exciting, rare and beautiful plants, trees and flowers from around the globe.
With formal and informal gardens, landscaped parkland and sub-tropical glades on offer, you are spoilt for choice. These gardens offer great access to nature, fresh air and lovely outdoor spaces to enjoy.
Furthermore these gardens can be enjoyed whatever the time of year, each season delivers new things to see. They will equally be enjoyed by casual visitors to serious horticulturists.
Here are some of the incredible garden’s visitors can enjoy when in Cornwall.
Trebah Garden – near Falmouth
These gardens have been rated as one of the top 80 gardens in the world. Amongst the magnificent 26 acres visitors will come across well laid out gardens, with sub-tropical, rare and exotic species of plants, trees and shrubs. They were imported by Quaker polymath Charles Fox, from around the world. There are also a number of interesting water features dotted amongst the exotic gardens.
All routes are signposted making it easy to get around, or you can download a map from the website.
These ravine gardens descend 200 feet through a steep valley to a private secluded beach on the River Helford, which provides a stunning backdrop. It is delightfully peaceful and a real sanctuary of natural beauty.
The gardens did go through a period of neglect, but in 1981 they were purchased by Tony and Eira Hibbert; who restored them and brought them back to their former glory.
Throughout the year there is always a display of colour but especially in the summer. The semi-tropical vegetation has an almost jungle feel.
The restaurant serves superior quality locally sourced food, there is also a visitor centre and gift shop. On the beach is a small refreshment hut that serves drinks and ice creams.
Children will enjoy the adventure play areas and trails that are both educational and fun. Take time to visit the unique outdoor theatre.
There are some steep paths so best to wear suitable footwear. Unfortunately, the gardens are unsuitable for wheelchair users or those with mobility issues.
For further details, please check out their website https://www.trebahgarden.co.uk/visit-trebah
Glendurgan Gardens – near Falmouth
These National Trust gardens are set on 30 acres and consist of three valleys brimming with natural beauty and impressive plants. They are situated overlooking the hamlet of Durgan on the Helford River.
These Grade II listed gardens were excellently laid out by Alfred Fox in the 1920s and 1930s and were designed with children in mind. They enjoy a lush tropical feel owing to the interesting sub-tropical plants, bamboo and amazing trees that thrive here owing to its sheltered position and mild micro-climate.
There is much to see and do, especially for younger visitors. Nature trails take visitors through wild flowers and tree ferns, a tiny art gallery is nestled into an upturned boat. Also found nestled amongst the foliage is an original tiny cob and thatched schoolroom that has been reconstructed, it retains its blackboard tablets. Children will love the ‘Giant’s Stride’, a rotating rope swing.
A real highlight is the 185-year-old cherry laurel maze, see if you can find your way through to the summer house at the centre, and back out again.
An absolute delight are the bluebells when they bloom in April/May, they carpet the ground and are stunning.
In summer the gardens are a riot of colour when in full bloom. Although each season has something unique to display.
The walkways are clearly marked. There is a meandering path that leads to a sheltered cove with a private beach, it is a delightful spot to stop and take in the stunning surroundings and bask in the tranquillity.
The gardens are not all on the level there are some quite steep hills, but there are plenty of seats should you need to rest along the way.
The tea-house café serves a choice of takeaway hot and cold drinks, as well as some light snacks. There is also a small gift shop.
For further details on their experiences, please check out their website https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/glendurgan-garden
Tregothnan – near Truro
These fabulous botanical gardens enjoy fabulous landscapes and breath-taking views, as well as being home to a vast variety of rare specimen of plants, mature trees and shrubs. The extensive grounds are divided into separate areas amongst them are the Kitchen Garden, Himalayan Valley, Rectory Garden, Barn Close and Pig Meadow.
Regrettably, they are not open to the public, private garden visits are by appointment only and require 24 hours’ notice.
Well known for being home to Europe’s largest tea gardens, they cover an incredible 150 acres. Visitors can take a guided tour of these fascinating gardens and learn all about the cultivation of tea, it lasts about 2 hours and is very informative. The tour is concluded with tea tasting and a cream tea, ending the experience on the right note. They also offer a number of other experiences that are detailed on the website.
Its arboretum is the largest in Cornwall. Tregothnan is home to the world’s only surviving travelling greenhouse, an original Wardian Case. You will also find one of the world’s rarest trees here, the Wollemi Pine or Dinosaur Tree, as it is more commonly known. It was purchased and brought here in 2011, after being found in an Australian valley in 1994. It has flourished in its surroundings, and cuttings have been sent all over the world.
In addition, the world’s largest Camellia Maze grows here at Tregothnan. Generally, mazes are constructed from ash or beech that are more suitable for pruning. In March the maze blooms in pink bud, transforming it into a candy-coloured labyrinth. In the centre is a colourfully decorated cow to greet you.
England’s first wild beaver has established its home here it has been spotted amongst the tea gardens. It is unknown how the beaver got here.
Make sure to visit the gift shop to get some of their delicious homegrown teas, or the other fabulous produce including, honey and preserves. They also sell plants and shrubs.
Tregothan do open their gardens to the public for one weekend a year, for a charity fundraiser, all proceeds going to a chosen charity. Worth keeping an eye out for this event on their website, it typically takes place in April.
For further details, please check out their website https://tregothnan.co.uk/experiences/
Trelissick Gardens – near Truro
These tranquil and varied gardens are situated in a spectacular location, on a steep valley that descends to the bank of the Fal River. The 400 acres of sweeping parkland are manged by the National Trust and are beautifully maintained. Much of the planting is down to the Gilbert family who owned the property during a large part of the 19th century.
These beautiful extensive gardens offer informal woodland and parkland walks; where visitors will come across exotic blooms and local wildflowers, as well as incredible views across the estuary and towards Falmouth. There is a choice of walks from short to long; the twisting paths lead visitors through charming countryside and past sub-tropical plants, exotic shrubs, trees, a water tower and summer house. A small walled garden is home to aromatic plants. Visitors will find a small beach, perfect for picnics.
Trelissick is primarily a spring garden but there are also flowering shrubs in summer.
Visitors will find plenty of seating outside the house where you can enjoy the views out over the grounds.
There is a lovely art gallery with an interesting display of contemporary works from members of Cornwall Crafts Association.
Crofters is a lovely café where visitors can purchase hot and cold drinks, as well as snacks and light meals; with a spacious courtyard where it is lovely to sit on a pleasant summer’s day. The gift shop contains a nice collection of gifts, and there is a second-hand bookshop.
Open-air music and theatrical events are held regularly in season.
For further information on opening times and admissions, please check out their website https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trelissick