Cornish gardens are all-season treats. Cornwall, the westernmost and southernmost part of mainland Britain is washed on all sides by the warm, climate-moderating waters of the Gulf Stream. It's generally mild all around and especially mild in the microclimates of its tight little valleys and sheltered coves. The Isle of Scilly, moored off the tip of Cornwall, is even milder.
The place is just covered with wonderful gardens. They're a nice change of pace from a Cornwall summer vacation of watersports, boating and eating lots of seafood. But the year-round gardens are a revelation in colder weather - and a superb way to escape the winter blues.
Try one of these favorites:
01 of 10
Carwinion House and Garden
- What:Bed and breakfast and self-catering facility, surrounded by 14-acre, exotic garden that is open to the public. The Rogers family, who still own and maintain it, were Victorian plant hunters and the gardens include such exotic species as dicksonia antarctica, cryptomaria japonica, chusan palms impressive gunnera. A special Sensory Garden, with a variety of scents and textures, has been designed for the disabled with plants that visitors can touch, smell and hear.
- Where: Mawnan Smith Nr Falmouth. Find on a map
- Claims to Fame: Cornwall's bamboo garden with more than 200 species on display. Look out for Carwinion's Carmen, a dramatic sculpture created from a fallen tree.
- Telephone: +44 (0)1326 250258
- Admission Policy: Small reduction in admission for seniors. Disabled and children under 16 admitted free. Dogs welcome.
- Open: 10a.m. to 5:30p.m.
02 of 10
- What: Terraced gardens and a valley garden leading to the River Tamar surround a quirky fortified Tudor house and riverside quay owned by the National Trust.
- Where: St Dominick near Saltash in southeast Cornwall. Find on a map
- Claims to Fame: Known for its collection of daffodils and for the secret tunnel leading from the upper, formal garden to the wild valley garden. Plenty of picnic tables around the gardens.
- Telephone: +44 (0)1579 351346
- Admission Policy: Reduced price for visitors to garden and mill only and for visitors arriving by bicycle. Children half price and family tickets available.
- Open: Garden is open year round, from 9a.m. to dusk. House closed during winter months.
03 of 10
- What: Almost impossible to adequately describe, the Eden Project fills 35 acres of abandoned china clay mines with all sorts of gardens, and several giant, geodesic "biomes" containing rainforest and desert plants. Visiting is a whole day affair and an absolute must if you are in Cornwall.
- Where: Bodelva, St Austell. Find on a map
- Claims to Fame: The world's largest rainforest "in captivity", regularly changing exhibitions, a giant, indoor helium balloon that takes gardeners 165 feet up to the roof to prune the banana plants and the new Sky Wire, the longest zip wire in England, soaring over the tops of the giant domes.
- Telephone: +44 (0) 1726 811911
- Admission Policy: Online and Green discounts, reduced price for seniors and children. Children under 4 free.
- Open: 9a.m. to 6p.m. but check the website for seasonal hours and occasional early closures for plant maintenance.
04 of 10
Continue to 5 of 10 below.
- What: A garden virtually unchanged since the 16th century surrounds an ancient, abandoned house owned by the National Trust. This was once the fashionable, 17th century home of one of Queen Anne's courtiers.
- Where: Godolphin Cross, Helson, Cornwall. Find on a map.
- Claims to Fame: Views from Godolphin Hill over St. Ives Bay; unusual, undulating landscape left after generations of Cornish mining; Barefoot Trail, the first of its kind at a National Trust property, and the peace and romance of an abandoned landscape.
- Telephone: +44 (0)1736 763194
- Admission Policy: Reduced price tickets for garden only and free admission to estate grounds. Family tickets for one or two adult families.
- Open: 10a.m. to 4p.m., short winter closure, from 16 December to 4 February.
05 of 10
- What: Thirty acre, National Trust garden created in 1857 around a Victorian country house with all the "mod cons" of a family house of the period.
- Where: Bodmin in mid Cornwall. Find on a map
- Claims to Fame: The garden is noted for its camelias, magnolias and rhodendrons. Daily free garden tours led by volunteers. And a hidden thatched cottage for you to find. Dogs welcome in the woodland park but not the gardens.
- Telephone: +44(0)1208 265950
- Admission Policy: Reduced price ticket for garden and grounds but no family tickets available for this option.
- Open: Gardens 10a.m. to 6p.m. year round.
06 of 10
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
- What: Huge (200 acre) garden with an irresistably romantic name. The BBC Country File program once chose Heligan as Britain's Finest Garden. The gardens of a long disappeared 13th century house, derelict for 75 years, were discovered by Tim Smit (also behind the Eden Project) and John Willis, a descendant of the Tremayne family, who built the original house and gardens. During the 1990s, the development of the rediscovered gardens was featured on BBC gardening programs
- Where: Pentewan, near St. Austell. Find on a map.
- Claims to Fame: National Plant Heritage collections of camellias and rhododendrons, a lush jungle garden with ancient tree ferns, and a Victorian Productive Garden. Unusual garden sculptures worked into the landscape of the woodland walks include a giant's head who's hair blooms tiger lilies in season, and the moss covered Mud Maid, who sleeps on the forest floor.
- Telephone: +44(0)1726 845100
- Admission Policy: Senior, child and family... discounts. Annual admission ticket available.
- Open: 10a.m. to 6p.m. April to September and to 5 p.m. the rest of the year.
07 of 10
- What: A paradisical subtropical garden, 160 years in the making, with tree ferns,palms and exotic flowers near the River Helford.
- Where: Nawnan Smith Nr Falmouth. Find on a map
- Claims to Fame: A lush valley garden leads down to a secret and secluded riverside beach; South American Gardens, champion trees including a 150 year old Chusan Palm, the tallest Chilean Laurel in the UK standing more than 19 meters, and a bamboo maze known as the Bamboozle. Dogs on leashes are welcome in the gardens and on the beach.
- Telephone: +44 (0)1326 252200
- Admission Policy: Reduced price tickets for children and seniors and reduced price admission in winter. Children under 5 years old free.
- Open:10a.m. to dusk, year round.
08 of 10
Continue to 9 of 10 below.
- What: A National Trust-owned garden originally designed in the 1930s by an heir to the Spode china company and known for its many varieties of exotic and tender plants.
- Where:Feock Nr Truro at the head of the Fal Estuary.
- Claims to Fame: Surrounded by water on three sides, this garden offers excellent views of the Fal Estuary. Its unusual collection of hydrangeas includes some of the rarest varieties of the plant. Ferry services on the Fal deliver visitors to the garden's own pontoon.
- Telephone: +44 (0)1872 862090
- Admission Policy: One or two adult family tickets, reduced prices in winter. Under 5s free.
- Open:10:30a.m. to 5:30p.m.; 11a.m. to 4p.m. in November to early February.
09 of 10
- What: Watch the National Trust recreate a lost garden surrounding a small Elizabethan manor house with a historic Great Barn.
- Where: Kestle Mill Nr Newquay in North Cornwall. Find on a map.
- Claims to Fame: Terraced gardens offer good views of the house and countryside as well as clues as to uses of the land over time. Colorful plantings in front of the house and an Elizabethan garden behind the Great Barn. A small lawnmower museum in the hayloft.
- Telephone: +44 (0)1637 875404
- Admission Policy: One and two adult family tickets. Very reduced price winter tickets.
- Open: Both house and garden open from late February to early November. Winter hours vary so check the website.
10 of 10
Tresco Abbey Garden
- What: You'll hardly believe you're in Britain if you visit this garden on the the Isles Scilly in the winter. The warm, marine climate is perfect for exotic plants from South Africa, California,South America and the South Pacific.
- Where: Tresco, Isles of Scilly, 28 miles from the Cornish Coast and reachable by air and ferry. There is a regularly scheduled helicopter service to October 31 but reaching the island the rest of the year involves a flight from Newquay or Lands End and a short boat trip across to Tresco. More about year round travel to Scilly
- Claim to Fame: A year round tropical garden - if you can get there! Known as Kew without the glasshouses. Tresco is a privately owned island and the garden was developed in the 19th century by the first owner.
- Telephone: +44 (0)1720 424105
- Admission Policy: Children under 16 always free
- Open: Every day, 10a.m. to 4 p.m.