Cornish gardens: Go west

The summer crowds have gone, which means Cornish gardens are at their tranquil best

What's the attraction?

Cornwall's almost frost-free climate means that the county grows the UK's most exciting collection of plants from around the world, and the garden season extends well into the autumn. With the crowds out of the way, September is a great time to have them all to yourself. For more options see,, or

Rooms with a garden view

For a chance to have the gardens all to yourself long after the last visitors have gone home, there are some special places to stay in the larger estates.

Trelowarren (01326 221224; on the Lizard Peninsula has 18 luxury estate cottages and converted barns as well as 1,000 acres to explore. Prices start at £195 for a midweek three-night break, self-catering in a two-bedroomed cottage. The estate's gardens are lush and extensive plus you're close to Glendurgan and Trebah.

Near Bodmin Moor, Lanhydrock Estate's farm cottages (07737 034 522; lanhydrockfarm sleep two-six and most have a private hot tub and/or sauna. They start from £250 per week, self-catering (sleeping four) and offer unparalleled access to the Lanhydrock Estate gardens, run by the National Trust, complete with topiary courtyard.

Hidden Valley Gardens (01208 873225; near Fowey have stashed two self-catering apartments in their four-acre gardens. Prices start at £145 for a long weekend, for two guests.

The most romantic place to stay in Cornwall's gardens is the Water Tower at Trelissick Gardens (0844 800 2070;, which looks like Rapunzel's tower and is surrounded by a private garden. From £257 for two nights self-catering, sleeping two, with free entry to Trelissick and Glendurgan gardens.

Insider information

"Caerhay Castle (01872 501310;; entry £7.50; open Feb-June) is a secret gem – up behind it, there is the national camellia collection. The privately owned estates like Pencarrow, near Bodmin, aren't pristine like National Trust estates and are great for getting lost in." Gary Long, Head Gardener at Trewithen (01726 883 647; trewithen; admission £7.50. Open Mon-Sat March-September)

By the sea

Plenty of Cornwall's gardens have sea views and shore access. Chygurno (01736 732153; admission £5) near Penzance overlooks Lamorna Cove, with a tiered waterside garden. Walk past Canary Island foxgloves and silver ferns to find a cream tea at the cove. Open Wednesday and Thursday afternoons or by arrangement. Down the road in Mawnan Smith, Trebah gardens (01326 252200;, admission £8.50) has a bamboo maze as well as cascades and a South American plant collection, as well as a private beach, Polgwidden Cove.

New this year

The newest garden to join the Cornish ranks is Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens (07974 996089;; admission £6.50) in Gulval, near Penzance, an ambitious and large valley garden with sub-tropical plants and views of St Michael's Mount that opened this summer. The art, from the likes of David Nash and James Turrell as well as Japanese artist Kishio Sugar, blends well with the dramatic environment and includes a Victorian underground water storage tank transformed into a projection space showing images of the natural world. Open daily until December.

The secret one

Hidden Valley Garden (01208 873225; hidden; admission £3.50) at Treesmill near Par, is a four-acre plantation in a quiet valley. This little paradise has been voted one of the best gardens in Cornwall by Visit Cornwall for the past two years and has great diversity, including a dedicated iris garden and Japanese area. There is also a nursery selling plants propagated from the garden onsite. It's only a short hop from the Eden Project and Heligan if you wanted to combine micro-scale tropical planting with its larger cousins. Open Thursday to Monday.

Best for families

Any family that has been to Cornwall for a holiday will know about the Eden Project (01726 811911;; online tickets from £19.95 per adult; children £8.05) in Bodelva, near St Austell. Family comes first here, with an indoor rainforest and plenty of ideas to turn children's fingers green, including a new zip line, storytelling, seed planting and festivals. Perfect for a rainy day – and it's open every day.

Glendurgan (01326 252020;; admission £6.80) at Mawnan Smith, Falmouth, is another family-friendly garden. Its grand cherry laurel maze can keep the kids occupied for ages, before heading down to Durgan beach via giant rhubarb plants, tulip trees and a wildlife pond. Open Tues-Sat.

Who said that?

"We are not here simply to provide a historical perspective but to look backwards and forwards at the same time: both backwards to where our gardens and food came from and forwards to those issues that confront us now." – Tim Smit, on The Lost Gardens of Heligan

"More than in gardened Surrey, nature spills/ A wealth of heather, kidney-vetch and squills/ Over these long-defended Cornish hills." – John Betjeman, 'Cornish Cliffs'

"…Nothing that we had as children made as much difference, was quite so important to us, as our summer in Cornwall…" – Virginia Woolf, 'A Sketch of the Past'

Green giants

Cornwall's gardens come in all shapes and sizes, the biggest being Tregothnan (01872 520000; near Truro. Run by the descendents of Earl Grey, it's the only place that grows tea in England. It is usually closed to the public except for a special charity weekend (20-21 April, 2013). However, individually booked private tours of its botanical gardens and working tea plantation are available from £25. Book through

The huge and mysterious Lost Gardens of Heligan (01726 845100;; £10) in Pentewen near St Austell are another world to lose yourself in. Their redevelopment, after falling into disrepair after the First World War, reinvigorated the Cornish garden scene and has made them one of the country's key botanical gardens. Open all year.

Small and special

Plenty of private houses in Cornwall open their gardens to visitors, and there's often something particularly specialist and eccentric about them. Bosvigo (01872 275774;; admission £5) near Truro, is one of them: an English-style garden with herbaceous borders and a series of dazzling colour-themed garden "rooms" around a Georgian house. Open Wednesday to Friday until the end of September. Or, try Marsh Villa (01726 815920;; admission £4) near St Austell, with three acres of water and woodland gardens created on the former tidal creek where Daphne Du Maurier set The House on the Strand. Open Sunday to Wednesday until October.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year