Cornwall’s Great Gardens
Do you dream of walking barefoot on a perfect lawn?
To to be surrounded by magnolias as the wonder of spring bursts out from winter?
Or to go dog walking in woodlands covered in a carpet of bluebells?
Cornwall has it all in its great gardens. From the Alice in Wonderland gardens of Antony (near Plymouth – Alice in Wonderland was actually filmed here!) to Tresco’s Tropical Abbey gardens (on the Isles of Scilly),
Cornwall’s gardens are truly something special and there are so many to see, each with their own special story and history.
One of the most poignant stories is that of the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Rediscovered in the 1990’s by Tim Smit, the story of this garden is a story reflected through the many gardens in Cornwall and beyond.
When Tim Smit wandered into the garden in 1990 – it was completed overgrown and ‘lost’. Those who had created the original garden had gone off to fight in the first world war and had never come back. The garden had literally been lost and reclaimed by nature until that day Tim Smit found their names carved into the wall in a toilet block.
In the years that have followed, the garden has been painstakingly restored. Amazingly the garden’s heart was there all along, just waiting to be pruned back and revealed for us all to see. The magic of a gardener’s green fingers have brought this garden back to life and made it one of the county’s finest gardens to explore with a rope bridge through the tropical valley, a pineapple house and fantastic rhododendrons.
Through the restoration of Heligan, all the gardens of Cornwall have been enhanced and elevated. In a way, they have all been a little bit hidden (and some of the best ones continue to be so!)
We will only tell you about a few here. Firstly, because we want to whet your appetite and secondly because there are so many it is just impossible to introduce you to them all.
We have lived here for 45 years and we are still visiting and finding new gardens to explore around Cornwall!
In our current climate emergency, there has never been a more pertinent time to focus on and enjoy the wonder of the garden.
Of course, in many ways, everything that English gardens have aspired to do have been shaped by colonialism and there is a massive contradiction between the wonder of these gardens and the methods by which the plants have been brought to the UK. Yet on the other hand, they promote biodiversity and provide a museum of plants from around the world. It was such an interesting concept that the Victorian gardeners wanted to create.
The breadth and depth of the gardens in Cornwall is down to another great contradiction as they have been built on the massive wealth created through tin mining in Cornwall. At one point, Cornwall was one of the richest places on earth due to its massive mineral wealth. It was at this time that these landowners created their paradise gardens to enjoy.
Lanhydrock, Trelissick, Trengwainton and Glendurgan – gardens full of the most spectacular trees and plants and each with their own idiosyncracies.
From, the national magnolia collection at Caerhays, to the rhododendrons, ferns and camellias at Trengwainton. Walking through the fern forest at Trengwainton, you feel like you could be in a prehistoric land.
The climate in Cornwall just happens to be perfect for these gardens. With steep sided coastal valleys creating mini rainforests. The Atlantic gulf stream ensures fairly constant temperatures all year round. Yes, of course, we all know it can rain a bit in England – but then that is why it is so green!
One of the greatest things we have discovered through taking our students to wonderful gardens around Cornwall is that it is not just for adults!
All ages love exploring these gardens, we all love what nature provides – that fresh air, the grass between our toes, picnics in the sunshine.