The English country garden is, so the song tells us, where sweet flowers grow, insects come and go, and songbirds fly to and fro.
And nowhere is this more true than in Cornwall. Cornwall’s location, in the southwest corner of England, allows it to feel the warming benefits of the Gulf Stream: the winters are mild, and the summers are sunnier than the rest of the country.
This makes the beautiful gardens in Cornwall bloom bigger, brighter, and bolder. With some of the most beautiful and rare flora, the great gardens of Cornwall are a delight to discover.
So next time you visit one of the beautiful towns in Cornwall with the kids, be sure to check where the nearest wonderful country garden is.
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Best Time to Visit Cornwall’s Gardens
The mild Cornish winters mean that Cornwall is often the first place in the British Isles to experience the warming effects of springtime weather. The camellias can start to bloom as early as December, and the daffodils are quick to follow suit.
By the time the schools break for the Spring Holidays, the great gardens of Cornwall will be resplendent with fabulous flowers and beautiful plants and will remain so through the summer until the sun’s strength fades in late September.
If you visit Cornwall from early June onwards, you will be in for a real treat as the gardens will be in full bloom.
Gardens in Cornwall Map
11 Best Gardens in Cornwall
But which are the best gardens to visit in Cornwall, and how do you find them? After a few days of exploring the beaches in Cornwall, you may want a change of scenery. A quick glance at the map above will show you where your nearest wonderful Cornish garden is, and below we’re going to have a look at the best gardens in Cornwall to help you decide which to visit first.
#1 Trebah Gardens, Mawnan Smith
A short drive south from Falmouth will bring you to these wonderful subtropical gardens. The breeze from the nearby sea cools you as you stroll around the seasonal blooms and exotic plants. Boasting a private beach on the estuary of the Helford River and an adventure playground, Trebah Gardens are great for the whole family to enjoy.
#2 The Eden Project Gardens, Bodelva
The Eden Project can be found a ten-minute drive away from St. Austell in the quaint hamlet of Bodelva. The global gardens at this attraction allow you to take your children on a botanical tour of the world as you discover tropical plants and shrubs, enjoy eclectic artwork, and make new friends in the engaging play spaces.
The Eden Project is perfect for your family day out with a focus on education. Two huge domes dominate the child-friendly gardens. One dome houses the rainforest biome—the largest indoor rainforest in the world—and the other mimics a Mediterranean climate.
#3 Trewithen Woodland Gardens, near Truro
Trewithen Gardens in Cornwall are another excellent place to plan a family day out. The house is one of the most elegant examples of eighteenth-century architecture in Cornwall, and the thirty acres of woodland gardens are lined with magnolias, camellia trees, and rhododendrons. After exploring the wonderful Trewithen Gardens, pop into The Tea Shed for refreshments and a bite to eat.
#4 Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Gulval, Penzance
Visitors to Penzance can easily make a short trip to Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens. These stunning gardens are located in a stunning setting, nestled in a valley with sea views across to St. Michael’s Mount. The exotic and subtropical plants are interspersed with sculpted artworks, and the natural gardens often host exhibitions and events by renowned artists.
The children will enjoy running around in the open spaces and may even get glimpses of the local wildlife, with rabbits, deer, squirrels, and even buzzards also visiting the tranquil gardens.
#5 St. Michael’s Mount Gardens, Marazion
The iconic castle at St. Michael’s Mount is surrounded by lush gardens and is the perfect family day out. Tickets are required, and the gardens are only open on Thursdays and Fridays. Book a combi ticket to explore both the castle and its gardens.
The beautiful terraced gardens cling to the slopes of the mount, and together with the sea views and castle, make St. Michael’s Mount one of the most exciting places to explore Cornwall’s gardens with the children.
#6 The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Mevagissey
Not so long ago, the gardens at Heligan were neglected and overgrown, lost to the Cornish wilderness. But luckily for visitors to the Mevagissey area, they have since been lovingly restored to their former glory. The Lost Gardens of Heligan are amongst the most popular in England, and the story of its rebirth has been featured on TV by the BBC and Channel Four. Explore the Productive Gardens, where fruit, vegetables, salad, and herbs are grown; the Pleasure Grounds, boasting plants from around the world; and the jungle – the UK’s only outdoor jungle.
#7 Caerhays Castle and Gardens, Gorran, St Austell
Famed for camellias, rhododendrons, and 100-year-old magnolia trees, the Caerhays Estate has some of the best-sheltered gardens in Cornwall to visit. And with a castle and a dog-friendly beach, it’s another favourite for family days out. Be aware, though, that the castle is only open from mid-March until mid-June each year, and booking in advance is recommended.
#8 Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden, Barnoon Hill, St Ives
English artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth first settled in Cornwall with her husband at the outbreak of the Second World War. The exotic plants and trees in the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden have to share the limelight with sculptures in bronze, stone, and wood, many of which are still positioned where the artist herself placed them. You can also view more of the artist’s sculptures at the Tate St. Ives Gallery.
#9 Glendurgan Garden, Mawnan Smith
A stone’s throw from nearby Trebah Gardens, this wonderful garden is a National Trust property and is beautifully set in a peaceful valley. Glendurgan Garden features a cherry-laurel maze, the Giant’s Stride rotating rope swing, and access to Durgan Beach. The kids will love tackling the fun maze, but ensure they have found their way out before leaving! Once they are free again, head to the teahouse for cakes, bakes, and a Cornish cream tea! These outdoor gardens near Falmouth are also beautiful in the autumn, as the leaves start to change colour.
#10 Lanhydrock House and Gardens, Bodmin
To the south of historical Bodmin lies another fantastic National Trust property – Lanhydrock House and Garden. Set in ancient woodlands, this magnificent late-Victorian estate house is surrounded by magnolias, camellias, and trees dating back to the English Civil War. After strolling through the green and pleasant garden, be sure to explore the great hall and kitchens of the historic manor house.
Lanhydrock is geared up for children, too, with play areas and cycle trails to enjoy. And if your little ones are still quite small, there are ample baby-changing facilities and a buggy-friendly route around the property to enjoy.
#11 Trelissick Gardens, Truro
Set in more than 300 acres of picturesque parkland, Trelissick Gardens estate features stunning sea views and lovely woodland walks beside the Fal River. The various trails are lined with hydrangeas, camellias, tree ferns, and rhododendrons. The estate also features a manor house, Trelissick House, and the Cornish Orchard, which showcases local apple varieties. The gardens open daily to visitors, and the Kitchen Café is on hand to provide refreshments and good food to enjoy in the south-facing dining room.
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