Both Devon and Cornwall have an abundance of stunning gardens and parks thanks to the mild winters, warm summers and year-round rainfall. Cornwall has the added benefit of warmth from the Gulf Stream, which means wonderful and rare sub-tropical plants flourish. There’s so much available to see and admire in the numerous gardens and parks in the two counties. Here’s our guide to the pick of the crop.
RHS Garden Rosemoor
Run by the Royal Horticultural Society, Rosemoor is a beautiful garden nestled in a valley surrounded by 40ha (100 acres) of woodland. It was originally created by Lady Anne Berry and has a variety of different gardens to enjoy. The gorgeous rose garden is a sight and scent to behold, with around 2,000 rose plants. There’s also a stream and rock gully, a woodland garden, fruit and vegetables, a hot garden, a stone garden and a cottage garden.
Great Torrington, Devon, EX38 8PH +44 1805 624067
A stylish Grade II-listed house with a 9.7ha (24-acre) garden, Coleton Fishacre was built between 1923 and 1926 as a country home for the English hotelier and theatre owner Rupert D’Oyly Carte, then-proprietor of London’s famous Savoy Hotel, and his wife Lady Dorothy Carte. Acquired by the National Trust in 1982, the house was designed and built with the Arts and Crafts movement in mind and the interior is Art Deco. The gardens feature rare and exotic plants, some of which can only grow at Coleton Fishacre outside of a tropical climate due to the proximity of the Gulf Stream in this part of Devon. The gardens run from the house down a narrow comb towards the sea at Pudcombe Cove.
Brownstone Road, Kingswear, Dartmouth TQ6 0EQ +44 1803 842382
With 324ha (800 acres) of landscaped gardens, forests, rivers and wildlife enjoy a visit to this sprawling country estate is a highly recommended experience. Home to The Dartington Hall Trust, there’s lots to see and do: gorgeous Grade II-listed gardens; the chance to see a film in the renovated 14th-century barn cinema; shops selling food, fashion, arts and crafts; plus a variety of places to eat and drink serving good-quality local, seasonal and sustainable produce. It’s also possible to stay overnight in one of the guestrooms. A walk around the entire estate is around 12.8km (8 mi.) but you can also take things at a more leisurely pace. There’s also ‘geocaching’, an outdoor treasure-hunting game using GPS-enabled mobile phones.
Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6EL +44 1803 847000
Killerton House and Gardens
This National Trust-owned house and gardens covers a vast expanse; 2,590ha (6,400 acres) of historic estate with a Georgian house and garden, surrounding parkland, two chapels, three satellite properties and one of the largest woods in Devon: Ashclyst Forest. The house has an interesting history as home to the Acland family and, given the size of the land, there are numerous walks and ways you can enjoy the great outdoors. The Acland walk is a gentle introduction, whereas the Tree Walk gives you a glimpse of some of Killerton’s giant and ancient inhabitants. Dogs are welcome too.
Broadclyst, Exeter, Devon, EX5 3LE +44 344 800 1895
Dartmoor National Park
No article about gardens and parks in Devon would be complete without a mention of Dartmoor National Park, the county’s wild and wonderful nature spectacular covering an impressive 95,384ha (235,700 acres). There’s an endless amount of activities to enjoy here, whether you prefer to hike over unspoilt moorland in search of Neolithic tombs, Bronze Age stone remains and crumbling mediaeval farmhouses; ride on horseback or cycle alongside bubbling rivers, lose yourself in the woods or fully immerse yourself in the environment with some wild swimming and camping.
The Eden Project
One of Cornwall’s most famous attractions, The Eden Project is a global garden that deserves a full day of your time, if not more. Explore the vast biomes that house the largest tropical rainforest in captivity for an enriching and educational voyage into understanding the connections between people, plants and the planet.
Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall PL24 2SG +44 1726 811911
Lost Gardens of Heligan
An absolute delight spread over 80.9ha (200 acres), the botanical Lost Gardens of Heligan has a romantic story about their rediscovery and so much to enjoy and discover. They were designed in the 19th-century ‘Gardenesque’ style, and are divided up into different themed areas, such as the productive gardens, containing 300 varieties of mostly heritage fruits, vegetables, herbs and salads, and the inspirational Pleasure Grounds, a lush area with fun and creative special features.
Trebah Garden is a sumptuous sub-tropical valley garden with fantastic of the sea views and access to a secluded beach on the Helford River. The gardens are open all year and have been planted with the seasons in mind, so there’s always something vibrant and colourful to enjoy. During spring, the 100-year-old rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias are ablaze with colour; in the summer, it’s the giant gunnera; autumn is time for the blue and white hydrangea to have their moment, and the champion trees are best in winter.
Mawnan Smith, Falmouth TR11 5JZ +44 1326 252200
Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gardens
British sculptor Barbara Hepworth lived and worked here from 1949 until her death in 1975, and it’s been open to the public since 1976 and run by the Tate Gallery since 1980. The museum and adjacent garden are exquisite and show her largest collection of work. Hepworth designed the gardens herself and the exotic plants, raised pond, meandering gravel paths, sky, sea views and the special light, for which St Ives is so famous and much loved by artists, all come together to create a stunning, serene backdrop to her dramatic sculptures and fascinating life story.
Barnoon Hill, St Ives, TR26 1AD +44 1736 796226
Slightly different to the other parks and gardens in this list, Tregothnan Estate is a private garden that’s only open to the public on selected dates (for example, April 22–23, 2017) or through a private garden visit, which one can book via the website. There’s a lot that makes these gardens really special and worth a visit. The estate has been home to the same family since 1334 and is the largest historic garden in Cornwall. And if that’s not enough, it’s the UK’s only tea garden and home to English tea. There’s also a Manuka honey plantation – the only one outside of New Zealand – as well as 5,000 rare plants and it’s a designated ‘safe site’ for rare and endangered tree species from around the world.
Tresillian, Truro, Cornwall, TR2 4AN +44 1872 520000