A Gulf in class: No county can touch Cornwall for the quality of its gardens in spring

It's all thanks to the warm sea air of the Gulf Stream, says Emma Townshend.

Gardens in Cornwall are big business: local business people in Falmouth have been campaigning for years to remove some rare seabed corals called "maerl" and drain a deep channel for gigantic cruise ships to approach this pretty town. When asked recently why anyone should actually want to get off the boats and spend money, the first tourist attraction they named was the Eden Project, closely followed by the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

Evidently, gardens in Cornwall are also delectable. Especially now it's finally decided to be spring. And nowhere does the season arrive with more gusto than in this seaside county, where magnolias and camellias have been doing all sorts of springy things for weeks now. There's something about Cornish gardens at this time of year, mainly powered by warm Gulf Stream sea air and lots of rain, where long branches hung with lichens give the valley-sides a rainforest feel.

You can see for yourself: Katherine Lambert is a gardening writer who lives near Truro, and her new book, Gardens of Cornwall (Frances Lincoln, £16.99),is crammed with 24 of the county's very best. The gardens of Anthony, Cotehele and Mount Edgcumbe kick us off. Super-romantic in feel, old-stone statuary and rambling roses add a twist to the magnolia-powered mix.

Other stars of the Cornish canon follow, such as Trelissick and Glendurgan (both National Trust, incidentally – this is one county where membership comes into its money-saving own). Trebah is one of my favourites, with sweeping beds,all equipped with perfect views of the Helford Estuary. And though Lambert allots eight pages to images of the Abbey Gardens on Tresco, I could happily look at 80 pages, so glorious is the mix of giant agapanthus and utterly foreign palms, all growing outdoors.

Lambert also includes some wilder cards: I've mentioned Tremenheere before, the imaginative creation of a local doctor who has planted rare palms on a hillside site above Penzance while also installing a James Turrell skyscape. And Barbara Hepworth's tiny garden in St Ives packs a mighty punch for its size – another garden with art at its heart that will send you home convinced you justhave to get some ratty geraniums.

So Lambert provides a great starting guide to the county's horticultural splendour. Yet stray a little off her version of the beaten track and there are even more good gardens to see. On a Sunday afternoon drive, posters flutter in the breeze marking gardens signed up to the Yellow Book scheme, tempting you down windy lanes to find extraordinary plots created by amateurs that are rarely open to the public. Godolphin Hill, open in Helston on 17 June and 1 July, for example, is the eco-garden belonging to a moth expert, who will show visitors his collection of beautiful lepidoptera.

At Bonython Manor, on the Lizard, Mrs Nathan and her team are making an extremely pretty garden with some wonderful touches, including a sweet orchard of local Cornish varieties where you can help yourself to tea and home-made cake, and a South African garden on a grand scale. I would also beg you to visit Potager, a garden-cum-café near Constantine outside Falmouth, in the ruins of an abandoned nursery (potagergarden.org). The sense of peace in a lazy hammock there is unbeatable.

So in conclusion: don't wait to arrive by cruise ship. Save the maerl! Come this year, by road, train or shallow-draught ship, and enjoy the finest spring fling that Gulf Stream gardens have to offer.

Spring gardens beyond Cornwall

Achamore

Wild gnarled trees and rare subtropical plants co-exist in a garden of quiet beauty on this tiny white-sand island east of Islay, negotiable by bicycle or foot. Entrance fee payable in honesty box, gigha.org.uk/gardens

Arduaine

A coastal garden on the Scottish mainland south of Oban crammed with rhododendrons, this is in full colourful blast by May. £6 adults, free to National Trust members, nts.org.uk/Property/Arduaine-Garden

Bodnant

Thought not quite by the Welsh coast, Bodnant still benefits from mild Gulf Stream breezes that allow a spectacular range of plants to be grown. £8.95 adult, NT and RHS members free, bodnantgarden.co.uk

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Life and Style
The racy marketing to entice consumers to buy Fairlife, which launches in the US next month
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital