Chelsea Flower Show Open From What Time To What Time Cornwall’s Gardens

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Cornwall’s Gardens

Cornwall is often referred to as the ‘Garden Capital of the World’ around the world. Cornwall enjoys the power of the Gulf Stream with its temperate climate of warm summers, mild and wet winters, allowing exotic and rare plants to thrive.

Where else can you find so many gardens with a history dating back to the Iron Age? As early as the early 19th century, Cornish gardeners were part of the Victorian plant hunters who collected exotic plants and seeds from around the world.

This gives us what we have today: over 60 beautiful gardens to explore with lush vegetation and subtropical theaters of color full of exciting, rare and beautiful plants. Cornwall’s gardens can be found in our magnificent castles, manor houses, large farm estates, mill houses, sheltered glens, high on rolling moorland and nestled in woodland and seaside gardens that meet the turquoise hues of the water’s edge.

Cornwall’s gardens are so diverse, varying in size from small and intimate to acres of rolling countryside. Some with charming lakes and a Victorian boat house to water the gardens with tree ferns, rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias. Others feature walled gardens and manicured lawns to the newest of all two magnificent biomes filled with magic from around the world.

You will be hard pressed to find a ‘Veitch’ plant or a plant sourced from their nurseries anywhere in the UK. The Veitch family sent many collectors around the world to bring back seeds and plants. Among them were two Cornish brothers, William and Thomas Lobb. William Lobb died in San Francisco in 1864, and his brother Thomas lived in Devoran until his death in 1894.

In east Cornwall, Mount Edgcumbe is an earl’s garden with old and rare trees, including a 400-year-old lime tree. The formal gardens are located in the lower park and were created over 200 years ago in English, French and Italianate styles. Cothele tells the story of the Tamar Valley and Antony was recently used as the backdrop for the film Alice in Wonderland. Also to the east is Ince Castle, overlooking the River Lynher. The garden enjoys woodlands full of rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias, vibrant shrubs and formal gardens. The gardens of Pentillie Castle are only open on certain days, and their orchard has been replanted with old varieties of apples and cherries from the Tamar Valley.

The south is awash with beautiful gardens, a testament to how sheltered this Cornish coast is, many filled with collections of Cornish rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias. We can start with Hidden Valley Gardens, Near Par. These gardens won the Cornwall Tourism Silver Award 2010 for attraction for young visitors. Tregrehan is a large woodland garden and has been home to the Carlyon family since 1565. Pinetum Park and Pine Lodge Gardens near St. Austella is a 30-hectare paradise with more than 6,000 labeled plants. Ray and Shirley Clemo traveled the world collecting seeds and plants for this garden and a pair of black swans became their home.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Pentewan were voted the best garden in Britain and won the title at the Countryfile Magazine Awards 2011. Celebrating 21 years since the discovery of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, this beauty offers 200 acres to explore. Discover the north garden, the jungle, the wider estate and the Horsemoor Hide and Wildlife project.

Next on our list would be Caerhays Castle Gardens, located in the valley above Porthluney Cove. A horticultural treasure covering 100 acres of woodland gardens and home to the National Magnolia Collection. Lamorran at St. Mawes is a Mediterranean-style garden overlooking the sea and Falmouth Bay. History says that this is the northernmost palm garden in the world. From Lamorran you can see the lighthouse on the head of St. Anton. St. Just in Roseland has a 13th century church and is set in a sheltered subtropical riverside garden full of magnolias, azaleas, bamboo and giant gunnera. Trelissick Garden at Feock was planted 200 years ago and overlooks the Falmouth estuary. It has year-round vegetation, an orchard, woodland walks and an arts and crafts gallery. In autumn, 300 varieties of apples will be on display in the Georgian stable. Enys Gardens at Penryn is one of Cornwall’s oldest gardens, dating back to 1709. Penjerrick at Budock Water is unspoiled with historical and botanical significance; relax among tree ferns and hidden paths.

Moving down the coast to Mawnan Smith are Trebah and Carwinion, these are gardens of great historical interest. Trebah is on the north bank of the River Helford and in this garden you can stroll among giant tree ferns and palm trees. Carwinion has a renowned bamboo collection and has 14 acres of tranquil gardens. Glendurgan lies in a subtropical valley that runs down to the Helford River. Have fun in the 180-year-old cherry laurel maze and wander through the garden to the hamlet of Durgan. The Potager is a new organic garden and is close to Constantine, five miles from Falmouth.

Further along the coast to Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula, Bonython Estate Gardens features an 18th-century walled garden, potager garden, Cornish apple orchard and woodland. Bosahan at Manaccan is again close to the River Helford, enjoying a Cornish microclimate and described in The Gardener magazine in 1909 as “the most Cornish of all Cornish gardens”! The Trevarno gardens are the ‘jewel in the crown’ of their magnificent 70-hectare property. Some interesting features include the Serpentine Yew Tunnel and the production of organic skin care products and soaps. The Carleen Subtropical Gardens are open by appointment only and are home to collections from South America, Mexico, Central and South Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the southern United States, and the Mediterranean. Hardy Exotics Garden Nursery in Whitecross, near Penzance, can create ‘Barbados in Birmingham’ – ‘Mauritius in Manchester’ and ‘Hawaii in Hertford’.

Now we come to the beautiful Mount St. Michaels Mount, walk the causeway at low tide or take a boat trip at other times. These gardens are steep but thrive in the shelter of granite cliffs and you’ll find exotics from Mexico, the Canary Islands and South Africa. Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens is a beautiful valley with Mount St. Michaels in the background. The National Trust owns Trengwainton and this historic garden is home to banana trees and giant echiums. Finally in this part of Cornwall is Penberth which is 5 acres and is a natural garden in a valley which includes sea views.

We now move to North Cornwall, which is a more rugged Atlantic coast. Our first port of call is a Japanese garden and bonsai nursery in the beautiful Lanherne Valley near St. Mawgan. Only 1.5 hectares, but it includes water gardens, a strolling garden and an oriental-inspired Zen garden. Moving down the coast to Padstow we find Prideaux Place, which has 40 acres of landscaped grounds and a deer park overlooking the Padstow Estuary and the River Camel. Last but not least on this coast is Longcross Victorian Gardens in Trelights, Port Isaac. It is 4 acres and is an excellent example of coastal gardening and hedgerows overlooking Port Isaac and Port Quin.

Cornwall has some nicer gardens that are a little more inland than the others mentioned earlier, but when you’re in Cornwall you’re never more than sixteen miles from the coast.

4 hectares on Ken-Caro, no. Liskeard is another garden with a woodland walk, magnolias and rhododendrons, small but beautiful and set high above Bicton Manor Woods. Another in the same area is Moyclare, established in 1927 on 1 acre and laid out around a house. Broom ‘Moyclare Pink’ and Astrantia ‘Moira Reid’ originate from this garden. Pencarrow is a 50 acre garden and this is where the Monkey Puzzle tree gets its name. You can even walk on the grass in this garden! If you like one of the plants, you will probably be able to buy a cutting of it. There is something for everyone at Pinsla Garden in Cardinham, an idyllic haven and hideaway full of secret paths with a hazelnut archway and a fantasy garden created by garden artists.

We go again to Lanhydrock, a National Trust-owned walker’s garden and historic garden comprising 1,000 acres of woodland. Boconnoc at Lostwithiel is a beautiful spring garden with camellias and azaleas from the original planting in 1850. These gardens are only open for the spring flower show and on Sunday afternoons in May. Trewithin, near Grampound, means ‘house of trees’ and has 30 acres of woodland gardens and over 200 acres of surrounding parkland. Horticulturist George Johnstone, who inherited the house in 1904, grew many of the seeds that came from overseas, ensuring the reputation that Trewithin enjoys today. Trewithin is an unforgettable garden gem.

Next comes the Eden project near St. Austella, which is the newest of all our Cornish gardens. Created from an abandoned Chinese clay mine in 2000, the site opened on March 17, 2001. The two biomes, one tropical and the other Mediterranean, are constructed from a tubular steel space frame clad in thermoplastic ETFE. You can travel around the world in one day in Eden!

In Bosvig, on the outskirts of Truro, they demolished an awkward wing of a house and used stone from the house to create a walled garden. This left the 100-year-old Victorian conservatory. All plants for sale in this nursery grow in gardens. Burncoose in Gwennap is a 30 acre woodland garden and has won a gold medal at the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. The arboretum has a rich selection of shrubs and herbaceous plants. Back on the coast we find Trerice, three miles from Newquay, which is 6 acres of garden but still a place to seek solitude at any time of the year. The National Trust has owned this garden since 1953.

Finally we cross the water to arrive at the beautiful Isles of Scilly before heading towards the Abbey Gardens on Tresco. This stunning subtropical garden is home to species of plants and trees from 80 countries, from Brazil to New Zealand and Burma to South Africa. Building high winds ensures that any bad weather is pushed up and over the walled enclosure. The terraces at the top are hotter and drier than the lower ones, which gives more moisture. In 1990, hurricane winds caused terrible damage to the buffer strips and the loss of many plants, but the buffer strips and the garden have now been restored and look “better than ever”. This is not to be missed.

Many gardens in Cornish belong to the National Gardens Scheme, which each year publishes The Yellow Book, which is a guide or ‘bible’ for visiting the gardens. Most of these gardens are privately owned and are only open on certain days.

Many of our gardens have exceptional autumn interest such as Ellis Gardens in Polyphant, Wave Cottage in Lerryn, Half Acre in Boscastle, Primrose Farm in Skinners Bottom and Kennall House in Ponsanooth. The homestead near Helston is 7.5 acres in size and has a woodland of wildflowers with over 1,000 trees and a further 800 trees for shelter and wildlife habitat.

There are of course many more gardens in Cornwall, many are small but beautiful and many of our gardens are dog friendly. So don’t leave your family at home, bring them along too. It would be wise to first inquire about the garden you plan to visit to make sure it is dog friendly. Some of our Cornish gardens are more accessible than others, so double check with the garden if part of your party is less skilled to make sure you will enjoy your visit.

For more information about our Cornish Gardens, most of them have their own website, which lists opening days and hours, how to get there, what facilities are available and ticket prices.

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