8 Of Cornwall’s Must Visit Gardens29 July 2020
Pure light and oceanic air. South West Cornwall is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel. On either side of the peninsula, the sea shifts between deep blues, greys and greens, shot through with silver and foaming white.
The landscape is beautiful in its own right, but it also creates a unique subtropical microclimate. The Gulf Stream protects south-westerly Cornwall, making it the mildest and sunniest region in the UK.
These subtropical conditions nurture an eclectic collection of exotic plants. While the rest of the world heads to the beach, make sure you visit Cornwall’s great gardens on your visit.
© Matt Jessop, Visit Cornwall
The Eden Project
The Eden Project may take its name from the Garden of Eden, but it is a place like no other.
Descend into a vast crater full of the wonders of the world. Nestled in the outdoor gardens and exhibitions are the Biomes, huge domes with controlled climates that reinvent the British garden. Head to the Mediterranean Biome for citrus fruits, tumbling vines, olives and the aromatic crush of thyme. Meanwhile, the Rainforest Biome contains the largest rainforest in captivity. Feel the humidity soar and the temperature rise as you follow jungle walkways through banana and cacao plants and past cascading waterfalls. Don’t miss the canopy walkway, with its bird’s eye view across the forest.
Find out more: www.edenproject.com
© Matt Jessop, Visit Cornwall
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Every garden has a story to tell, but Heligan’s story has it all. A 400 year old estate, a talented team who worked with plant hunters to push the boundaries of their craft, ordinary workers planting pineapples in Cornwall. Then the sudden interruption of war in 1914: gardens closed, a pencil scribble left in the walled garden with the names of those who had planted it.
Seventy six years of crumbled stone and the slow colony of bramble and ivy. Then a hurricane in 1990, and with it a freak discovery of England’s lost garden.
Don’t come here to sleep or slumber, August 1914.
The message from the past inspired work to begin on Europe’s largest garden restoration project. The 200 acre gardens were restored to their former glory over many years, and they are now one of the best gardens in the UK. Last year Heligan was included in the top 50 experiences within Lonely Planet’s Ultimate United Kingdom Travel Guide.
Find out more: www.heligan.com
© Visit Cornwall
National Trust, Trengwainton Garden
Be transported to the tropics at Trengwainton. Planted in the 1920s with exotic trees, the forested valley’s grand tree ferns and babbling stream evoke lush Asian rainforests. Behind the elegant canopy and the impressive displays of magnolia, rhododendrons and camellia, sea views stretch over to Mount’s Bay.
Enjoy lunch on the terrace with the sea views, and have a browse in the second hand bookshop and gallery in the old head gardener’s cottage.
Find out more: nationaltrust.org.uk/trengwainton-garden
© Matt Jessop, Visit Cornwall
One of the great gardens of Cornwall, Trebah is a subtropical paradise by the sea. Four miles of footpaths take you into the fronds of the 26 acre garden, and down to a secluded beach on the river Helford.
Trebah has 8 UK champion trees (the tallest or fattest of their kind) including a Chusan Palm from China. This proud specimen is 150 years old and may be the earliest of its kind in the British Isles. It is usually found in the misty valleys of China, but it looks at home in Cornwall.
Find out more: www.trebahgarden.co.uk
St Michael’s Mount Gardens
The skyline we all associate with Cornwall. The view of St Michael’s Mount from St Marazion beach is iconic. But there is more than fairy magic to be found on the island itself. Walk across the path at low tide to see Penzance from a new light and explore the granite studded terraced gardens, which arc gracefully down to the waterside.
Laundry Lawn is a lovely spot for picnics, a stretch of grass with views out to sea. The Victorian East terraces burst with flashes of golden-yellow and hot pink, from the Pelargonium, Gazanias and Lithodora. At the Top Walled Garden, Pericallis, Parahebe and Pelogonium flowers are layered in a fluttering wave pattern, echoing the tide below.
Find out more: stmichaelsmount.co.uk
Situated in the heart of West Cornwall and forming part of the historic Bolitho Estate, Trewidden Garden is one of the Great Gardens of Cornwall.
Trewidden Garden is a tranquil, meandering garden with 15 acres of paths through walled gardens and mature woodland. Nestled amid the greenery lie traces of the area’s mining history. The garden centres on a majestic tree fern dell. Approach it from any side for an aspect that is only a tiger short of a Rousseau painting.
Find out more: trewiddengarden.co.uk
© Dave Peake
Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens
Nature and art collide in creative ways at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, an art gallery under the sky. Subtropical plants and modern art installations sit side by side. The artists and gardeners have collaborated, creating site-specific pieces which reclaim and recreate the space. An innovative and sympathetic handling of the landscape.
Find out more: tremenheere.co.uk
Some gardens are ingeniously designed, others find their beauty in their wildness. Chygurno is one of these.
Chygurno is a passion project from husband and wife Robert and Carole Moule. In 1998 they a sheer cliffside jungle, and set about reclaiming the land. It is now an alluring medley of plants from around the world. Wind down its terraces, spotting exotic trees and succulents such as silver tree ferns, Canary Island foxgloves and banana plants. Walk out onto a decked vantage point to gaze out over the tree tops, to see the sea shimmer below. As you descend through the three acre garden, the woodland becomes softer. Rhododendrums, camellias and azaleas decorate the pathways, their glossy foliage dusted with colourful flowers in early summer.
Planning a tour of Cornwall’s gardens? Visit the Eden Project and Heligan en route, and stay in the heart of West Cornwall, with St Michael’s Mount, Trewidden, Trengwainton and Tremenheere on your doorstep.
Penzance is an ideal base. You will find plenty to see and do in the town while feeling pleasantly lulled by its relaxed atmosphere. Drop anchor at the Hotel Penzance to tuck into the day’s catch in our restaurant before retiring to a peaceful night’s sleep in one of our newly refurbished sea view rooms.