The gulf stream doesn't just give Cornwall great weather - these warm ocean currents also keep our coastline nice and toasty which gives us some incredible sub-tropical gardens. Packed with rare and beautiful plants, they are beautiful to explore at any time of the year as there's always something new to see with each change of season. Here's our top ten...
Just fifteen minutes’ drive away is the subtropical valley garden of Trebah. 26 acres full of lush plants lead down to a seclude beach on the Helford River. There is an adventure playground for the kids and dogs are welcome in the garden and on the beach on the lead.
Just down the road from Trebah is the National Trust garden, Glendurgan. With rich and varied plant life with everything from a ‘jungle’ to banks of wildflowers, the valley of Glendurgan leads down to the picture perfect hamlet of Durgan and a beach right on the Helford River. A great day out for families with lots to do – there is a hedge maze, the giants stride swing and plenty of space for games of hide and seek, sandcastle building or stone skimming. Don’t forget to stop for a famous National Trust cream tea!
THE EDEN PROJECT
Visit the world’s largest captive rainforest at the Eden Project, complete with steamy jungles and waterfalls. Walk high above the rainforest canopy on the aerial walkway, explore the gentle Mediterranean Biome, indulge in delicious food and let the kids burn off some steam outside. If you are feeling brave, check out the SkyWire (England’s longest and fastest zipwire zooming high above the famous Biomes) and the Gravity giant swing where you’ll be suspended 65 feet above the ground before plummeting in a 55 mph freefall towards the ground. Not for the faint hearted!
This historic private estate is home to one of the most interesting gardens in the country. It was developed at the time of the great plant hunting expeditions and a huge seed collection was sent back to England and cultivated in the 30 acres of south facing gardens. Tucked away next to the Walled Garden is an enclosure where the adorable red squirrels live and near the plant centre is a tea shop serving amazing lunches and cream teas.
Spring always comes early to Trengwainton with magnolias and snowdrops bursting out from February onwards. Throughout the year the gardens are full of colour and blooms with secret paths leading their way to the terrace that looks out over St Michael’s Mount and the bay. The walled kitchen garden is packed full of vegetables, herbs and salads and provides a lovely sun trap for a picnic. Kids can follow the family trail while mums and dads can indulge in tea and cake!
This estate on the banks of the River Fal really has something for everyone – runners and dog walkers can follow the riverside woodland paths, kids can splash about on the beach or join in with the weekend woodland activities and families can enjoy the beautiful gardens and views down the river and out to sea. Trelissick House has recently been acquired by the National Trust and several rooms are now open including the dining room and orangery with their stunning views sweeping out over the estate and down to the river.
The 200 year old castle is surrounded by 120 acres of grade II listed gardens. Follow the walks around the gardens to see the important collection of Chinese plants brought back by the great plant hunters Ernest Wilson and George Forrest and take in the views over the grounds, the lake, beach and out to sea.
THE LOST GARDENS OF HELIGAN
At the end of the nineteenth century the thousand acres of the Heligan estate were at their prime, but only a few years later they began to be lost. As the gardeners were called away to fight in the First World War the brambles and ivy began to creep their way across the land and soon the gardens were forgotten. A chance discovery in 1990 led to a huge restoration project and they are now some of the most famous and most beautiful gardens in the world.
On the banks of the River Fal lies the secretive estate of Tregothnan, home to the same family since 1335. Famous for having the UK’s only tea plantation, you can only visit the gardens during their monthly tours, as a private guided tour or on the popular charity open weekend on 11th & 12th April. Don’t forget to take some of that famous tea home with you!
These dramatic sculpture gardens are set in a beautiful sheltered valley full of exotic plants and contemporary art installations. There are 20 acres of gardens, ponds, streams and woodland with paths designed to follow the natural camber of the hillside. The strongly structural planting scheme with a sub-tropical emphasis means that the gardens do not follow the traditional spring flourish but have more of an all-season interest.