Visit Cornwall’s unique subtropical gardens, from Trebah Garden near Falmouth to the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden in St Ives, as floral displays are rather special here…
Whether you’re enjoying a short break in Cornwall, off on a day trip to explore hidden gems, or planning things to do on a week-long staycation, the best thing about Cornish gardens is that they offer something different each season, so it’s not strictly a summer affair. In fact, Cornwall is blessed with some spectacular gardens due to its beautifully mild climate, so if you are a lover of floral displays, the county is perfect for you.
Location: Near Falmouth
One of the very best gardens in Cornwall, Trebah is deservedly listed as one of the top 80 gardens in the world. Trebah Garden is a sanctuary, the garden descends through 200ft to a private beach waiting at the bottom. Polgwidden Cove is a sheltered and secluded shingle beach on the Helford River, with its own beachside café for a charming Cornish cream tea, or ice cream.
With 26 acres of footpaths to be explored here, this sub-tropical valley garden could be compared to lead to a Himalayan valley, yet it’s just five miles outside of Falmouth. Enjoy 100-year-old rhododendrons, camellias, magnolia and hydrangeas. Visitors will discover bamboo, a mallard pond and a koi pool, among the vast array of trees. New for 2023 is the Court Garden a tranquil and unique walled garden, which is designed to engage the senses.
Is Trebah Garden dog friendly? Yes. Is Trebah Garden wheelchair/pushchair friendly? Yes.
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Location: Near Mevagissey
Bramble-covered since 1914, after the men who maintained the beautiful gardens were sent off to fight in the Great War, the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey were rediscovered in 1990, when it became the site of a huge restoration project led by Tim Smit, known for his amazing work at the Eden Project (another Cornish attraction not to be missed).
Restored to their former glory, now visitors can enjoy the magic of the natural beauty of this place, all 200 acres of it. There’s a lot to be enjoyed here with formal gardens, rare plants, wildlife, outdoor jungle area showcasing a Burmese rope bridge 100 ft above the ancient ferns, and the array of unusual farm animals, it makes for a wonderful day out.
Is Lost Gardens of Heligan dog friendly? Yes. Is Lost Gardens of Heligan wheelchair/pushchair friendly? Yes.
Location: Near Penzance
A stunning combination of artwork and subtropical plants live at Tremenheere, near Penzance. Art lovers will appreciate the sculpture gardens where you can enjoy a variety of thought-provoking sculptures in a natural setting, overlooking the iconic, St Michael’s Mount. In fact the land here was originally owned by the monks of St Michael’s Mount until 1295, when it was bought by a tenant farmer, Michael De Tremenheere.
Tremenheere is positioned in a luscious, sheltered valley, where woods and a stream interweave with the contemporary art pieces making it a real art-landscape experience for visitors. The sub-tropical plants and dramatic landscaping favour Cornwall’s micro-climate, forming the perfect backdrop to internationally renowned art.
Is Tremenheere dog friendly? Yes. Is Tremenheere wheelchair/pushchair friendly? No.
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The gardens in May at Lanhydrock, Cornwall ©National Trust Images Hugh Mothersole
Location: Near Bodmin
National Trust’s Lanhydrock is situated just outside of Bodmin. One of its most famous Cornish estates there’s a magnificent late Victorian country house, coupled with extensive gardens and wooded estate.
While the stately home displays how different life was ‘below stairs’, and how opulent the spaces are ‘upstairs’ with its elegant dining rooms and grand bedrooms, the outside truly has the wow factor.
The colours you see will vary depending on what time of year you visit, but those of a green-fingered nature are in for a treat. Stroll along the ancient woodlands, peaceful riverside paths and extensive gardens, as you take in beautiful herbaceous borders and higher gardens bursting with colour from camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons.
Is Lanhydrock dog friendly? Yes. Is Lanhydrock wheelchair/pushchair friendly? Yes.
Location: Near Newquay
On the north coast, if you want some peaceful beauty on your short break in Cornwall then why not opt to visit the bonsai, pagodas and ponds of The Japanese Garden? A tranquil haven just five miles from the bustling seaside town of Newquay, it’s open from March to November.
A much smaller space than many other Cornish gardens, The Japanese Garden is just over an acre in size and was built as a meditative garden to calm the mind. Prepare to feel rejuvenated as you see the variety of trees and plants on display. Keep your eyes peeled for Japanese Acers blended with some local Cornish plants, such as an impressive English oak tree which grows here. The spectacular Azaleas flower in the spring, while the Acers turn from green to vivid red in the autumn.
Is The Japanese Garden dog friendly? No. Is The Japanese Garden wheelchair/pushchair friendly? Yes.
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Magnolia tree in bloom at Caerhays Castle Garens, Cornwall ©Exposure Photo Agency, Simon Burt
Location: Near Mevagissey
On the Roseland Peninsula, Caerhays Castle and Spring Gardens contain colourful specimens, such as rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, but is most known for its magnificent magnolias, which are best seen in March and April. In fact, Caerhays plays host to the Plant Heritage National Collection of Magnolias, and there are over 600 different varieties on display. Visitors can appreciate over 80 UK record sized trees here, too.
On the tranquil south coast of Cornwall near St Austell, the impressive woodland garden overlooks the sea, spanning over 140 acres. Owned by the Williams family, the garden boasts a unique microclimate. Sea mists often covers the woodland in humidity, which is very suited to the Chinese mountain habitats, where many magnolias and rhododendrons originate.
The gardens are usually open from February to June, during the most beautiful flowering summer months. A perfect day out if you’re visiting Cornwall on a short break in spring.
Is Caerhays Castle dog friendly? Yes. Is Caerhays Castle wheelchair/pushchair friendly? In parts.
View of the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden © Bowness. Photo © Kirstin Prisk
Location: St Ives
Barbara Hepworth was a talented sculptor, originally from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, her Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives offers a magical oasis. A trip here will allow you to see her fascinating sculptures displayed in their natural, intimate setting. There are large sculptures of bronze, tone and wood – more sculptures than plants, really, but the two combine well for a spectacle.
Visitors will also see her collection of tools, such as chisels, saws and hammers. There’s also fine views over the rooftops of St Ives not to be missed.
Is Barbara Hepworth Museum dog friendly? No. Is Barbara Hepworth Museum wheelchair/pushchair friendly? No.
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Eden Project, near St Austel. ©Hufton+Crow
Location: Near St Austell
An attraction in Cornwall that you will have heard of is the iconic Eden Project. Offering a day to be remembered on your Cornwall holiday, take a trip to the world’s largest greenhouses. The paths of the Eden Project snake the slopes of the former clay mine, now offering 30 acres to be explored.
The impressive rainforest and Mediterranean biomes – which are an architectural wonder in themselves – keep you undercover making this a great rainy day attraction in Cornwall.
We recommend you wear layers as temperatures rise in the tropical heat in the rainforest biome with its rare plants, and wobbly rope bridge walkway which affords fabulous views over the rainforest. For more temperate climes head for the Mediterranean biome to discover the heady scents and colour of the plants and enjoy the Bacchanalian sculptures.
Is the Eden Project dog friendly? In parts. Is the Eden Project wheelchair/pushchair friendly? Yes.
Wild flowers at Glendurgan, © National Trust Mary Cobill
Location: Near Falmouth
Five miles outside of Falmouth, the National Trust’s Glendurgan Garden is a sheltered valley garden and superb subtropical space. Home to a beautiful mix of exotic and native plants, as well as peaceful orchards, at the bottom of the valley you can access peaceful Durgan Beach.
If you’re a history buff and World War II engages you, then Glendurgan Garden was where American troops departed for Normandy on D-Day, and exploring here you’ll learn that many wartime relics remain in place. But it’s probably best known for its epic cherry laurel maze, which was planted in 1833. The 19th century maze has puzzled visitors for decades and is a spectacle to see.
Is Glendurgan Garden dog friendly? No. Is Glendurgan Garden wheelchair/pushchair friendly? In parts.
Roundwood Quay seen from Trelissick, Cornwall. ©National Trust Images Hilary Daniel.
Another popular National Trust spot for garden lovers is Trelissick near Falmouth in a pretty village called Feock. With incredible panoramic views over the Fal Estuary, it’s set on its very own peninsula.
As you explore the diverse countryside and panoramic parkland, you’ll spot exotic plants and herbaceous borders bursting with colour. The wider estate has over 300 acres, including secluded oak woodlands so you can easily spend the day here. Enterprise Boats also connect Falmouth to Trelissick if you fancy arriving by boat.
Is Trelissick dog friendly? Yes. Is Trelissick wheelchair/pushchair friendly? In parts.
Enjoy a short break in Cornwall with Cornish Secrets