Cornwall gardens in Spring
Magnolias are coming into bloom and daffodils are popping up in our hedgerows and laneways. Is there a better time to take a break and explore the joys that Cornwall has to offer? The mild local climate and the warmth of the Gulf Stream are just two of the reasons that formal gardens flourish in Cornwall.
From Lanhydrock near Bodmin to Tremenheere near Penzance, you can lose yourself in the tranquillity of beautiful grounds. The many microclimates across the county mean that planting cannot be replicated from garden to garden. No two gardens are the same, which adds to the unique experience of visiting a formal garden in Cornwall.
Often picturesque and tranquil and always beautifully maintained, Cornwall’s gardens are a fantastic day out – for all ages. These private spaces are often well suited to toddlers learning to find their feet, or younger children looking to explore new and unchartered territories. This peace of mind makes for a relaxing day out – for the whole family, not just its smaller members.
A beautiful day out for all ages
But we don’t just recommend a day out at one of Cornwall’s great gardens for our guests with younger family members. Many garden locations throughout the county are wheelchair / buggy friendly. For example Trebah near Falmouth is more than 80% accessible by wheelchair. And the private estate garden at Trewithen near Grampound is also largely wheelchair friendly.
Some of the most accessible gardens are National Trust properties and these venues also offer additional activities and events throughout the year. Trellisick near Truro, for example, hosts a well-attended apple festival to celebrate the arrival of autumn. But for spring, Cotehele Estate near Saltash is well worth a visit to catch the daffodils in bloom. This year’s Cotehele Daffodil Weekend is 17-18 March.
As well as providing a relaxed, natural form of entertainment, it is not unusual to find a good place to eat when you get there. So, arrive hungry, or at least plan for a mid-morning tea break! Lost Gardens of Heligan is well known throughout Cornwall for providing delicious, healthy and seasonal food that has not only been locally sourced, but grown or reared on its own land, wherever possible. And the National Trust gardens do a solid if familiar line of soups, cakes and sandwiches.
The Tregothnan Estate is also home to Cornwall’s only tea plantation and this distinctive brew can be enjoyed in the café, or purchased in the small shop. What an unusual souvenir for you to take home from your holiday in Cornwall!
Spring in Cornwall
Did you know that Cornwall’s gardens come together to watch for the first signs of spring across the county? While the rest of the UK is easing its way out of hibernation and perhaps beginning to enjoy some lighter evenings, Cornwall’s horticulturists are watching for emerging signs of new life: the daffodils, crocuses and celandine in the hedgerows. But, most importantly, the magnolia trees are under careful scrutiny from one end of the county to the other for their precious first blooms.
Under the watchful eye of head gardeners and co-ordinated by Great Gardens of Cornwall, the incoming spring is monitored. The milder climate means that Cornwall sees spring ahead of the rest of England and every year it is a lovely reminder of the onward benefits that come from autumnal rain. Every year, six magnolia trees, each one from a different garden around the county, are watched daily to record the date when the flowers shed their winter jackets and come into full bloom.
These are champion magnolia trees, and on the day that it is noted that all six have flowered with no less than 50 blooms on each, Cornwall declares that spring has arrived in England.
At each of the six gardens, the head gardeners report daily progress and upload pictures for people looking for a day-by-day snapshot. You can follow progress on Twitter at @Gr8Gardens.
March is the month you can expected to see magnolias in full bloom around Cornwall. But some milder winters have seen the arrival happen even sooner. As this heralds a change in season that is far ahead of the rest of England, Cornwall is celebrating this to one and all.
In 2013 spring was declared 19 February, and the earliest recorded date was 10 February in 2016. But regardless of the exact date that Spring arrives in Cornwall, this is a time of year that the county’s beautiful gardens can be seen at their very best.
Magnolias are in bloom in the early part of the season and daffodils carpet fields and hedgerows. These stunning displays of colour are a welcome sight after winter and many of Cornwall’s best gardens are within easy reach of our cottages near St Austell. Here are our top 4 favourites for a spring time visit:
1 Lost Gardens of Heligan
Just a short 15-minute drive from Tregongeeves Farm Cottages, the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the tale of how they were discovered and restored is a truly remarkable tale about the country’s best-known secret garden. During WW1 the estate’s workforce went off to fight in the trenches, many of whom sadly did not return. But the estate was neither sold nor developed and instead fell into disrepair.
The house was converted to flats in the 1970s but the gardens remained hidden and untouched for another two decades. A chance discovery of an old engraving lead to a groundbreaking project of restoration and the vision to restore the gardens and tell the tale of those ordinary people who had made these gardens great.
Now, as Heligan approaches its 25th anniversary these award-winning gardens are a location for BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch as well as theatre and foodie events. A must-visit all year round, but especially in Spring.
2 National Trust Lanhydrock
These beautiful gardens are owned by the National Trust and are open daily from March through October with additional winter opening times.
The upper gardens, closest to the café and house are dominated by a majestic collection of magnolias, which will be in flower in early spring. Visit at this time of year and you’re also likely to enjoy a vibrant display of camellias, rhododendrons and, if you’re lucky, snowdrops.
The gardens offer many maritime and river viewpoints and the woodland walk is ideal for springtime strolls and is a particularly dog-friendly route.
3 Caerhays Castle Gardens
The magnificent 140-acre space at Caerhays Castle Gardens is open daily from February to June. The gardens and ‘castle’ overlook a private beach and you can leave our door and be here within 15 minutes. The gardens are home to the national magnolia collection and the 120-acre woodland is English Heritage Grade II listed.
Caerhays is best enjoyed in Spring when the famed magnolias are in bloom, and visitors may choose between exploring at their leisure or taking one of the guided tours, which takes 1.5-2 hours. This is not a manicured or planned garden, but the estate has a unique microclimate which means the planting would be impossible to replicate in another environment.
4 Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens
A journey to Tremenheere Sculpture gardens is not the shortest distance you might travel from a Tregongeeves base. But if the garden’s stunning large-scale and subtropical planting is not enough, it is also the backdrop to some extraordinary contemporary sculpture installations from the likes of James Turrell and David Nash. The dramatic vista of St Michael’s Mount that is visible on a clear day only adds to the atmosphere invoked by the inspirational works and landscaping.
Unfortunately, the gardens are not wheelchair or buggy friendly due to the steep nature of the grounds. But the Tremenheere Kitchen restaurant is open all year round and has a drop-off area that is 100% accessible. From here, the grounds and the vista can be enjoyed at your own leisure and the layout is such that diners have the feeling that the upper parts of the garden are their very own private space.
For more information on booking your stay at Tregongeeves visit here.