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2016 Year of the English Garden

You may not know that 2016 has been designated as the Year of the English Garden by VisitEngland. Basically it is a PR initiative by VisitEngland to raise the profile of all English gardens to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Capability Brown, the famous garden designer.

Gardens continue to be one of the most popular visitor attractions for both domestic and international visitors to England. According to the Capability Brown website  more than half of international holiday visits include a trip to a park or garden, second only to shopping! Also one in five English residents (18%) visited a garden on their last break in England. This makes visiting gardens a very popular pastime.

Unfortunately for us, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown never got as far as Cornwall! The furthest he travelled was Devon, designing and creating two private gardens in that county. Not to worry though as Cornwall has a plethora of both public and private gardens containing some unique plants, thanks to the warmer climate and the prevailing Atlantic winds. In many gardens in Cornwall you will find palm trees, tree ferns, echium and other plants normally found in more southerly latitudes, making a visit to a Cornish garden a different experience.

Several of the gardens found in Cornwall are not particularly well known by visitors to the county, partly because they are not widely advertised, but also because they are often off the beaten track, down typically narrow Cornish roads. However, they are well worth a visit because of their location, sometimes located on cliff edges overlooking the Atlantic, or hidden away in idyllic scenery.

Gardens in Cornwall

Of course there are the well known gardens, such as The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project, which many people will visit as part of their Cornish break, there are also several National Trust houses and gardens which are well visited, such as Lanhydrock House and Gardens near Bodmin, and Cotehele House and Gardens at Saltash on the Cornwall-Devon border. But there are many more hidden gems to discover and explore which are often, sadly, overlooked. One example of such a garden is Caerhays Castle and Gardens, located at Gorran near St. Austell.

Caerhays garden camellias

Caerhays garden Camellias

Caerhays Castle and Gardens is where the very first x williamsii camellias were bred and today the gardens are the home of the Plant Heritage National Collection of magnolias, containing over 600 species and named hybrids from all over the world. The 120 acre woodland gardens are English Heritage Listed Grade II. The gardens also sit in a spectacular estate featuring the castle, which can also be visited.

An excellent example of a public garden can be found in Falmouth. The Fox Rosehill Gardens feature a great many and varied species from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South America. These species have been successfully introduced to the mild Cornish climate, and they include Lemon, Banana and Eucalyptus Trees, Bamboos, Agaves and a wide variety of palms.

Pencarrow House and Gardens in Bodmin has more than 600 varieties of rhododendrons and camellias which bloom throughout the Spring. Cornwall is where the first rhododendron was planted (you can see the 200 metre canopy of the original plant at The Lost Gardens of Heligan) so you will see a great many rhododendrons on your travels around Cornwall. In May/June you will see a carpet of bluebells and wild garlic, followed by hydrangeas, fuchsias and azaleas in the autumn. Pencarrow also features a beautiful house making a visit to the gardens an extra delight.

Finally Trewidden Garden is considered one of the great gardens of Cornwall. Located near Penzance, its claim to fame is it has one of the largest tree fern dells in Europe. The gardens cover 15 acres with a collection of over 300 magnolias and camellias.

Italian garden at Pencarrow house and gardens

Italian garden at Pencarrow House and gardens

Trewidden Azalea bush

Azalea bush at Trewidden Garden

Year of the English Garden Free Guide

I have only touched on a very small number of gardens just to give you a taste of what gardens in Cornwall have to offer. Some gardens open all year round, many do not. Some of the gardens have specific opening times because they are best seen at different times of the year.

To help you I have created a free guide to 27 handpicked gardens in Cornwall which are well worth a visit. The guide contains a summary of what each garden has to offer, the best time of the year to view the garden, the opening times to avoid you turning up when the garden is closed, and the location of each garden so you can find it! You can get your copy of the free guide by clicking here. I hope you enjoy it and enjoy visiting the gardens of Cornwall in the year of the English garden.

If you have visited a particular garden in Cornwall you enjoyed, why not leave a comment below and let us know about it.

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