10 Lush Cornish Gardens to Explore
Cornwall's relatively warm climate means that the county offers an abundance of lush, beautiful gardens to explore. The clement coastal microclimate nurtures a huge range of exotic, tropical plants as well as native species – and the season extends well into the autumn, too. From the globally recognised indoor rainforest of the Eden Project to the more formal gardens of stately home Lanhydrock to the spectacular clifftop views from Chygurno, there is a garden to inspire everyone. Here are our top 10 lush Cornish gardens to experience in late summer.
What: This dramatic cliff-top garden, carved into the rocks, teeters over the stunning Lamorna Cove. Nothing can prepare you for the spectacular sea view, as the waterside garden tumbles down in steep pathways, steps and along terraces – a riot of vibrantly coloured, hardy plants that can tolerate the salt and wind. It almost feels as if you are in the treetops from its decked view point. The present owners landscaped this abandoned jungle in 1998 – it is now a ture Cornish wonder.
Where: Lamorna, Penzance, Cornwall TR19 6XH
When: Open from April to September on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2pm-5pm. Any other time or date by arrangement.
What: Trebah is one of Cornwall’s most spectacular sub-tropical gardens, stuffed with towering palms and rhododendrons, and a stunning coastal backdrop. Start at the top of a sheltered valley, which forms the backbone to the sloped 26 acre gardens and admire the beautiful sea views. Descend down to the private beach by a merry stream that runs downhill past candelabra primulas, zantedeschias and a grove of huge gunneras. This place is great for families – there are children's trails to follow under lush canopies and through colourful tunnels, plenty of places to picnic and ice-cream available from the Boathouse cafe.
When: Pre-bookable slots throughout the day start at 10am; visitors must vacate the garden by 4.30pm. The garden is open Saturday to Wednesday and closed on Thursdays and Fridays.
Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens
What: Nestled in a quiet, sheltered valley, Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens overlooks St Michael’s Mount. The woods, stream and stunning views provide the perfect setting for exotic foliage. An evolving programme of contemporary artwork by internationally renowned artists such as James Turrell, David Nash and Richard Long, who have interacted with the setting to create site-specific permanent work, harmonises with the landscape.
Where: Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, near Gulval, Penzance TR20 8YL
When: Open daily, 10.30am-5.30pm, with last admission at 4.30pm.
What: Created by the artist owner, Wendy, who has lived in Bosvigo House since 1969, these gardens are a dazzling display of vivid colour and plant harmonies. Bosvigo was designed with summer in mind: the Hot Garden is a firework display timed to explode in August with orange crocosmias, yellow heleniums, red salvias, lobelia and flamboyant dahlias, all held together by a tapestry of sultry dark-leaved foliage. The gardens are both formal and informal and filled with rare and unusual plants. It is also famous for its Hellebore Day, held every February, when Wendy's choice hellebores are sold in aid of charity.
When: Open until the end of September on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11am-6pm.
What: You can't mention a day out in Cornwall's gardens without signposting its mega-star, the Eden Project. This incredible crater houses two massive biomes, one filled with the world’s largest indoor rainforest; the other with 1,000 varieties of Mediterranean plants. They look like spaceships set among acres of landscaped gardens. A new garden full of the floral wonders of South Africa is the latest spectacular addition. Inspired by the Veld, a wide range of habitats in South Africa from the mountains to the coast, it is planted with many of the trees, shrubs and flowers that define the beauty and diversity of the country’s landscapes. In autumn there will be a show of beautiful flowering bulbs such as amaryllis belladonna, hesperantha coccinea and nerine bowdenii.
When: Pre-book a time slot in advance of each visit. From 9am-5.30pm.
What: The house and gardens lie in a stunning rolling Cornish estate. On the slopes above the house, paths meander through woodland planted in a semi-formal, Cornish fashion with stands of rhododendrons and Himalayan magnolias, wreathed in green lichen. From here there are superb views down over the garden and the Fowey valley landscape. Because Lanhydrock lies eight miles inland and the grounds rise to 130 metres above sea level, the plants have to cope with a harsher climate than south Cornwall's famous coastal gardens, but the gardens still put on a dazzling show. Formal parterres, established in the Victorian period, are spread out under the east front.
When: Book your visit in advance or you will be turned away. Bookings open weekly on Fridays. The countryside, garden, Park Café and cycle trails are open daily. Plant centre and cycle hire open Thursday to Monday only
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
What: Intrepid Victorian plant hunters brought their exotic treasures to Cornwall’s frost-free valleys to preserve and cultivate them because Heligan’s ‘jungle’ is often several degrees warmer than the rest of the country. A genuine secret garden, the once-thriving Heligan estate was lost for decades under dense undergrowth until a door to one of the walled gardens was discovered by accident in 1990. An award-winning restoration project followed and you can now explore 200 acres of subtropical gardens, ancient woodland and a jungle filled with strange and marvellous plants and trees.
Where: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St.Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN
When: Prebooked tickets only. Open all year round, from 10am-6pm (last admission 4pm).
What: The garden at Cotehele is beautiful in the summer, filled with myriad colourful plants and flowers. Spanning 14 acres plus 12 acres of orchards, it has variety far beyond the average garden because of its terrain, rills and juxtaposition to the house. Cotehele is home to more than 125 varieties of apple tree including the Cornish honeypinnick, the limberlimb, the pig’s nose and the lemon pippin. Apple trees are the gauge of all the seasons: from bare branches springs new life in the spring, and with the help of pollinating insects, blossom becomes fruit over the summer, which are picked in the autumn and create food and drink, before the trees power down for their winter sleep.
Where: Cotehele, St Dominick, near Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6TA
When: Book your visit in advance or you will be turned away. Bookings open weekly on Fridays. All areas of the garden and orchards are open, apart from Nelson's Piece and the Valley Garden which are currently closed.
The Japanese Garden
What: This meditative space, steeped in eastern philosophy, combines the beauty of nature with artistic refinements through the shaping and styling of plants and natural elements. Evolving through the seasons, the garden blooms in summer as azaleas and 100 varieties of Japanese maples burst into colour, revealing a riot of greens, reds, pinks and creams. Bamboos whisper in gentle summer breezes and dragonflies and damselflies hover over the swimming koi. This is a wonderful place to come to enjoy some peace and quiet, and reflect – a little parcel of Japan in Cornwall.
When: Prebooked tickets only until 31 October, seven days a week 10am-6pm.