Complete tranquillity. That’s the only way to sum up the stunning gardens in Cornwall.
I’ve been exploring these lush and exotic heavens since I was ten years old, and I’m still going decades later.
That’s not to say I haven’t visited most of them, but there’s always new pockets and life to find as the seasons change!
Thanks to its location in the south west, Cornwall has a mild subtropical climate and an abundance of biodiversity that makes it a very unique spot in the country. For starters, you’ll find palm trees everywhere you go, which I absolutely love.
It’s no wonder then that there’s an abundance of gardens in Cornwall that take advantage of the county’s wonderful weather.
If you’re looking for gardens to visit while in Cornwall, you’re in luck! I’ve put all my knowledge down on paper and made a list of the best gardens in Cornwall. You can simply pick a place, stroll around and appreciate the beautiful flora and horticulture.
In this guide, we’ll be covering:
- The top 10 gardens in Cornwall that you should 100% visit
- Unique features making these gardens so special
- Things you need to know before your visit
Bring your sense of wonder and appreciation, and let’s explore all the beautiful places on this list!
Lost Gardens of Heligan
Words don’t do this place justice, I’m finding it hard to find the correct words to describe this place… I just love the feeling of entering another world filled with history, tropical vibes, funky sculptures, and amazing views.
Located near Mevagissey and St Austell, this sprawling 200-acre estate was once “lost” to time after being neglected following the outbreak of World War One.
In the nineties, however, it was restored to the piece of paradise we see today, and it now features several gardens within the estate.
One of these gorgeous places is the Victorian Productive Garden, which stands as a tribute to the gardeners who once worked the land with Victorian farming methods prior to WWI.
This garden is home to over 300 varieties of heritage fruits and vegetables. If you’re a gardener yourself, you can even buy some heritage seeds to take home with you!
Make your way over to the garden’s aptly named Pleasure Grounds and walk under brightly coloured rhododendrons that are over 150 years old.
If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, head on over to the Jungle! This tropical rainforest-like garden — the only of its kind in the UK — features a reflective pond covered in lily pads, tall ferns, and other lush greenery.
The Jungle also has one of the longest Burmese Rope Bridges in Britain if you feel like going for a bit of a swing over all these tropical plants.
Spring is one of the best times to visit the garden as you get to see bluebells and primroses blooming amid the moss-claimed woodland sculptures in the estate’s Woodland Walk. These sculptures can even change colours with the seasons!
For animal lovers, the garden hosts plenty of wildlife and a rare breed farm, so there’s a lot of fauna to encounter.
With so many gardens and spaces to explore, we recommend that you spend at least four hours wandering the gardens so you can soak in everything that it has to offer!
What a wonderful pace this is to stroll for a number of hours. You can’t believe the Jurrasic feeling among the gigantic flora and SO MANY different species of plant which are incredibly maintained.
It’s such a cool place to spend an afternoon away from the busy stress and strains of life.
Plus it even has it’s own beach for another slice of peace and quiet by the water.
The Trebah Garden is found near Falmouth and features over four miles of footpath that you can explore.
As you stroll through the garden, let yourself be whisked to another world by its fairytale-like charm—no matter the time of year, you’ll always find yourself mesmerised by this incredible garden.
If you’re visiting in the summer, you absolutely must walk through the Gunnera Passage where you’ll feel like you’ve magically shrunk as you walk under the green cover of giant gunnera leaves.
If you’re there during autumn, you’ll be able to take in the dreamy clouds of powder blue hydrangeas blooming by the garden’s Mallard Pond. A whole host of flowers such as the brilliant pink rhododendrons and camellias welcome you during spring!
Even in the winter, various plants such as bright yellow mahonias and delicate pink grevilleas continue to breathe life into the garden.
All throughout, this garden is a perfect spot for families – including your dog! If you’re visiting with little ones, the garden has special trails for children to explore, wooden play areas to climb around, and even a paraglide to fly down.
You’ll feel like your stepping into a period book at Trelissick. The gardens is a part of a larger estate which includes a welcoming house and woodland walks.
The Trelissick Gardens in Feock, near Truro, feature breathtaking views that overlook the Fal River and Estuary. Courtesy of the scenery, these gardens are perfect for long walks and exploring the woodlands.
Take a stroll by the dog-friendly woodland walks to see stunning flora such as hydrangeas, camellias, rhododendrons, and other tropical plants. As you continue, you’ll come across a stone bridge and spot even more spring blooms.
Spring is an ideal time to visit the Trelissick Gardens, but we also recommend that you visit in autumn to admire the leaves as they turn orange.
If you want to explore more than the gardens, make sure to visit the historic Trelissick House which sits right on the estate! During opening hours, you’ll also get to explore the ground floor of this eighteenth-century building.
When you’re done with your walk and craving a cup of tea and a quick bite, head right on over to the nearby Crofters Café. If you’re an avid reader, do your part by purchasing a novel at the bookshop that helps to fund the conservation projects at Trelissick.
If you’re looking to spend some extra time in the area, you can even stay on the estate itself! Specifically, you can book a night at one of the historic buildings that are now managed by the National Trust.
With the gardens right at your doorstep and plenty of time to explore all the different nearby walks, staying the night at Trelissick is something you shouldn’t miss.
Meaning “house of the trees”, Trewithen Gardens has over 200 acres of incredible (and rare) botanic specimens from all around the world!
The garden, which is also near Truro, is located in one of the largest privately-owned estates in the country.
While roaming this sprawling green space, you’ll see the historic eighteenth-century Trewithen House (which you can also explore on a guided tour) and a whole host of flora.
There are some seriously impressive plants you’ll witness in Trewithen including Kashmir cypresses, ginkgo or maidenhair trees, and special rhododendron hybrids that were specifically bred here.
The garden’s highlight is its camellia collection, including those that form part of the camellia “Donation”.
Trewithen’s camellias have earned the garden the title of Garden of Excellence by the International Camellia Society, a prestigious distinction awarded only to 39 gardens around the world – five of which are in the UK.
The Trewithen Garden is also regarded as the best spot in the UK to view delicate pink and white magnolia blooms, which you simply cannot miss if you’re visiting the area in March.
With its diverse array of plants, Trewithen is a delight to visit no matter the time of year.
It offers a tranquil spot to explore whether you’re after brilliant spring blooms, the warm colours of autumn, or just want to go for a stroll around their gardens!
I’m a sucker for a maze, which means I’m a sucker for Glendurgan!
The Glendurgan Garden stretches over three valleys in Falmouth and is located quite close to the idyllic Durgan Village.
These gardens are the perfect place to spend your day regardless of whether you’re more interested in appreciating the beautiful horticulture, learning the garden’s history, or just looking to have some fun in the outdoors.
Established in the nineteenth century by the Fox family, these lovely gardens weren’t just made for strolling around. As you walk the garden’s paths, you’ll spot the Glendurgan’s school room — a facility opened by the family primarily for their 12(!) children.
There are plenty of things to do in these magical gardens! For starters, you can explore the swirling 180-year-old hedge maze (try not to get too lost in the process) or have fun on the rotating Giant’s Stride rope swings. These are especially great if you’ve got adventurous kids!
Once you make your way to the bottom of the valley, you can even spend some time in the sheltered Durgan Beach where there are plenty of quiet spots to enjoy the sand and water.
Before you leave the gardens, take some time to relax at their teahouse and enjoy a cup of classic British cream tea and some homemade scones!
The Eden Project
I’m sure you’ve heard of the world famous Eden Project. It’s got to be one of the very best gardens in Cornwall, which is why it makes this selection. But I put it further down, because most people already know this one.
But it’s still an absolute favourite of mine. In fact, I quite enjoy visiting during the winter. Mainly, so I can stroll around the tropical dome and feel like I’m on holiday!
The Eden Project is an iconic and unique collection of gardens known for its sci-fi-like greenhouse domes or “biomes”.
It’s a massive project that’s driven by the interconnectedness between nature and humans, making it the perfect place to marvel at natural botanical wonders.
The gardens, now the home of thousands of different plant species, are located in what was once a barren clay pit!
As you enter the Eden Project, you’ll stumble upon its Outdoor Gardens which feature colourful seasonal blooms and fascinating sculptures that take a couple of hours to fully explore.
From there, you can venture into their Mediterranean and Rainforest biomes.
Despite its name, the Mediterranean Biome houses plants not just from the Mediterranean region but also from Western Australia and South Africa as well.
With the incredible variety of plants on offer, you’ll enjoy alluring scents from the garden and admire the fascinating range of citruses in the citrus grove.
The Rainforest Biome is home to all sorts of tropical plants including cacao trees, pitcher plants, vanilla, coffee, and baobab trees. If you’re lucky, you may even catch the rare titan arum — notorious for its memorable stench — in full bloom.
Bird enthusiasts can even watch little roul-roul partridges hobble their way around the biome!
Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden
St Ives has plenty to do if you’re an art enthusiast, and you certainly can’t miss the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden if you’re visiting.
The sculpture garden is found right by the house where the iconic artist once lived and worked. Her house is now used as a museum and kept in the same way that she did, from the furniture to her incredible sculptures.
Because the sculpture garden and museum house the largest collection of the sculptor’s works, they offer a wonderful opportunity to admire the abstract sculptures that draw heavy inspiration from the natural landscape.
You’ll also get to view these works in the way Hepworth herself intended as you stroll down the paths that the artist once trod upon.
If you want to explore more deeply, you can also join a guided tour to learn more about Hepworth and her artistic contributions!
These gardens are the perfect spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of tourists when you’re visiting St Ives, and a visit here is an experience you’ll always remember.
Caerhays Castle and Gardens
If you want to feel like you’ve been transported back in time (or to a fairytale realm), a visit to the Caerhays Castle and Gardens in St Michael Caerhays near Saint Austell will deliver that whimsical feeling!
These woodland gardens surround the Caerhays Castle, an English Heritage Grade I Listed Building that was built over 200 years ago.
The regency-era castle is open only during the spring, and you should be sure to take a photo of the massive blooming magnolias that perfectly frame the stone building.
Apart from the historic castle itself, these 100-year-old magnolia trees are also another highlight of the gardens!
Belonging to the National Magnolia Collection, the trees paint the gardens a breathtaking pink hue when they bloom alongside rhododendrons and camellias. Together, these flowers are a magical sight that you definitely cannot miss!
From the castle’s important history to its sprawling gardens, there is so much to appreciate in this estate — and you can even do it with your pup! Love castles? Read my guide to the Top Castles in Cornwall!
The dog-friendly gardens offer water bowls for your furry friend in the cafe to rehydrate while you rest your legs and recharge after your walk.
Located in Madron near Penzance and steeped in rich history, Trengwainton Garden hosts a diverse collection of plants that colour this classic British garden.
Dotting the garden are plants collected from India and Burma by British plant collectors in the twenties. These magnificent florae include magnolias and rhododendrons, and some of them were even the first of their kind to have been grown in the country!
The rhododendrons here have also been bred to produce stunning hybrids that are unique to the gardens themselves, making for a special botanical experience.
Diligently cared for and beautifully maintained, the plants are a sight to behold for visitors taking a leisurely stroll. You can even bring your dog to enjoy some quality time together!
Further, your visit to the gardens will also reward you with a picturesque view of Mount’s Bay and St Michael’s Mount. One thing’s for sure: you’ll never run out of gorgeous photos to take home and remember your trip by!
Tresco Abbey Gardens
If you’re spending time on the Isles of Scilly then you’ll be blessed by the area’s mild climate
And that means this garden is rich in all sorts of tropical plants that flourish without any greenhouses involved.
As its name alludes to, the Tresco Abbey Gardens was established in 1834 on the grounds of a former Benedictine abbey.
Over 4,000 species of plants from all over the subtropics grow here, including palm trees, giant agaves, lipstick-red flame trees, and a huge variety of succulents.
The history of the gardens adds an extra air of romance to the space. Walk under ancient arches that have long since been claimed by greenery, and stroll along winding paths where you can admire the beautiful horticulture.
For something a bit different, head over to the Valhalla Museum where you’ll be able to take a glimpse of figureheads and relics that once decorated shipwrecks found around the Isles of Scilly.
If you’re visiting from one of the other islands in the area, there are boats that run daily to Tresco from Bryher and St Mary’s. Routes also connect Tresco with St Agnes and St Martin, although these run less frequently.
If you’re visiting from the mainland, it’s also possible to hop on a short helicopter ride to Tresco from Penzance for a scenic and memorable experience.
The Bottom Line
Cornwall has some of the most picturesque and unique gardens in the country. They’re full of rich histories, ancient (and newly introduced) flora, and stunning views — perfect for a peaceful stroll in the outdoors.
Whether you’re a keen horticulturist or just looking to stretch your legs and appreciate nature, you’re bound to enjoy your time in these stunning gardens of Cornwall!
Introducing Eliot, the Editor here and Cornwall local with a wanderlust spirit and an insatiable appetite for adventure. With a passion for the great outdoors, he can often be found catching waves on his surfboard, scaling peaks on a hiking trail, or discovering hidden gems in his exploration of Cornwall.