Cornwall's gardens are a technicolour dreamscape that will (almost) make you forget about its famed beaches. In a nation where gardening is a beloved pastime, the British have elevated the humble act of pottering around flowerbeds into an art form. From gin-fuelled lawn parties to the grand spectacle of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the UK's green-fingered obsession runs deep. But Cornwall's gardens are in a league of their own, blurring reality and fantasy: a reflection of the county's unique climate, history, and creative spirit.

From iconic biomes to modern sculpture gardens, hidden escapes and Japanese sanctuaries, these botanical spaces offer a sensory journey that stills the mind. Whether you’re looking for restoration in Cornwall during the winter months or seeking respite from sun-drenched beaches come summer, in the words of renowned American horticulturist writer, Elizabeth Lawrence: “the garden year has no beginning and no end”. 

Whether you're a seasoned horticulturist, curious wanderer, or unabashed aesthete, step into the surreal domes of the Eden Project or stumble upon a secret garden lulled by the roar of the ocean in our guide to Cornwall’s most beautiful gardens. 


Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, St Ives

An image of the Barbara Hepworth Museum in St Ives. It is summer, and all the plants are green, and the sky is blue

Salt-streaked St Ives needs little introduction; a lively Cornish fishing town that draws bucket-and-spaders in their droves throughout the summer months. But it’s also known for its thriving art scene, and amid the hubbub you’ll find the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden, offering a quiet haven away from the circling, chip-seeking gulls. Art and nature entwine in this intimate space which plays host to over 30 of Hepworth's modernist sculptures; voluptuous hulks of smooth, weathered bronze, each carefully positioned to create a dialogue with the subtropical plants that surround them. Following your alfresco culture hit, head to Silco for lunch; it’s one of the best places to eat in Cornwall

Where to stay: St Ives, within walking distance of the Barbara Hepworth museum and Sculpture Garden.


Caerhays Castle and Gardens, St Austell

An image of a pink rhododendron in bloom

If you were one of the many who contributed to getting Sophie Ellis-Bextor's hit, "Murder on the Dancefloor," back into the Top 20 after watching Saltburn, then make a beeline for Caerhays Castle and Gardens for its Saltburn-esque vibes. No stranger to the silver screen, the grounds have actually been featured in several Rosamunde Pilcher films as well as Rick Stein’s popular television series about Cornwall. Extending over 140 acres and complete with ocean views, the garden traces its origins back to the work of Chinese plant hunters at the turn of the century and flaunts a unique microclimate, characterised by sheltered woodland bathed in moisture and humidity from sea mists. 

Where to stay: Gorran Haven, just ten minutes drive from Caerhays Castle and Gardens. 


The Minack Theatre Garden, Porthcurno

An image of The Minack Theatre, looking out across the sea and Pedn Vouder Beach

Perched on a rugged cliff overlooking a sea that transforms from tranquil to tempestuous in a heartbeat, you wouldn’t be the first to let out an involuntary sigh of appreciation upon first sight of the Minack Theatre Garden. Overflowing with rare flora from far-flung corners of the globe, travel to South Africa, South America and the Canary Islands on a stroll through these beds, each a living tribute to a Shakespearean character. Kaleidoscopic blooms put on a show to complement the dramatic coastal settings, but you won’t want to miss catching a play here either. On a balmy summer evening, when the air tingles with nostalgia and anticipation, watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream under an increasingly bruised sky is enough to leave even the most stoic misty-eyed. 

Where to stay: Porthcurno, five minutes by car from the Minack Theatre.


The Japanese Garden, Newquay

An image of pink cherry blossom against a blue sky

Nature's raw beauty and the artistry of human touch combine in this beautiful Japanese garden in the village of St Mawgan. Bonsai trees, ancient symbols of resilience and wisdom, stand as living sculptures, their gnarled trunks and delicate leaves telling stories of generations past. The design pays homage to the traditional Japanese philosophy of striving for perfection and balance, where garden buildings and natural wonders coexist in a delicate dance. At the heart lies a tranquil pond, its mirrored surface reflecting the ever-changing sky above, while the soothing melody of a waterfall murmurs the tales of the earth below. Rocks, carefully placed along the water's edge, embody strength, stability, and endurance, providing a sense of safety and serenity that allows the mind to truly relax.

Where to stay: Mawgan Porth, five minutes by car from the Japanese Gardens.


Trebah Garden, Falmouth

An image of a sub tropical garden, full of large green leaves

Follow the meandering paths through this enchanting, emerald-hued valley, where exotic blooms cascade down to a secluded beach on the Helford River. This ever-changing tapestry of nature showcases the beauty of the seasons, from the majestic 100-year-old rhododendrons that burst into life during spring to the warm, golden hues of Hydrangea Valley that paint the landscape in autumn. The restored 19th-century game larder adds to the garden’s wholesome, cottage-core allure, while the charming summerhouse is a tranquil place to pause. It’s no surprise that Trebah was the setting for several scenes in the 2020 film adaptation of The Secret Garden, and if you’re looking for your own, we’ve got a collection of homes with secret gardens.

Where to stay: Helford, a 40 minute drive from Trebah Garden.


The Lost Gardens of Heligan, St Austell

An image of The Lost Gardens of Heligan's Mud Maid in spring

Giant rhubarb plants, their stalks blushing a bright raspberry, stand tall beside banana trees and majestic ferns, creating a patchwork of colour in the 200-acre Lost Gardens of Heligan. Stroll through the thickets of time where whispers of myth and legend are still carried on the breeze, ducking through the labyrinthine bamboo tunnels that snake the grounds. In a tale of two halves, your path will either lead you to the fabled “Witch’s Broom” (a gnarled protrusion sprouting from a Douglas Fir, its twisted form a testament to the mysteries that lurk within these grounds) or tip you into the pages of Snow White via the Sundial Garden, which hums with beesong and the flutter of butterfly wings. The Mud Maid, Grey Lady and Giant’s Head, each a behemothic moss-carpeted figure carved from rock, augment the fantasia feeling. 

Where to stay: The Roseland Peninsula, half an hour by car from The Lost Gardens of Heligan.


Chygurno Gardens, Penzance

A close-up image of a succulent

Clinging to a dramatic cliff, Chygurno Gardens seem to defy gravity, teetering over pebbly Lamorna Cove below. This natural playground has been lovingly transformed into a maze of steep pathways, steps, and terraces carved into the rocks and tumbling down the rugged terrain towards the sheltered woodland. As you navigate the winding steps, you'll be greeted by an astonishing array of plants; hardy exotics withstand the salty breeze and thrive at the cliff's edge, while camellias, rhododendrons, and azaleas daub the woodland paths in an explosion of colour against the backdrop of the Cornish coastline. Chygurno Gardens welcomes four-legged friends; if you’ve got your pooch in tow, we’ve got plenty of dog-friendly cottages.  

Where to stay: Mousehole, a ten minute drive from Chygurno Gardens.


The Eden Project, St Austell

An image of The Eden Project. The Biomes are in the background, with the event tipi and greenery in the foreground

This once-barren clay mine has been reborn as a global garden celebrating nature's beauty and diversity. The iconic biomes, which dominate the skyline in the form of futuristic domes, are the epicentre of the Eden garden. Step inside the Mediterranean Biome and be transported to a sun-drenched island fragrant with herbs, or feel the pulse of life in the Rainforest Biome, the world's largest indoor rainforest. With more than 1,000 varieties of plants to gawp at, you'll begin to unravel the intricate web of life that sustains our planet. It’s a place where the past, present, and future intertwine, inviting visitors to reflect on the possibility of a greener, more sustainable world.

Where to stay: Trelion, a 20 minute drive from The Eden Project.


Antony Woodland Garden, Torpoint

An image of The National Trust's Antony House and Gardens, looking down the long lawn from the woodland, to the house

Hailed as Cornwall's best-kept secret, the 100-acres of Antony Woodland Garden boasts mossy woodlands, secluded coves perfect for wild swimming, and striking views across the Lynher estuary. Nature's palette comes to life here, with wildflower meadows reminiscent of a Monet painting, adorned with primroses, bluebells, campion, and garlic. The garden is home to the International Collection of camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas, and hydrangeas, while Asiatic magnolias rise like torches from the green understorey. Modern sculptures by renowned artists add to the garden's allure while the woodland walks are a highlight; dappled sunlight filters through the forest canopy, bathing the foliage in an ethereal glow as kestrels and buzzards soar overhead. 

Where to stay: Whitsand Bay, 15 minutes by car from Antony Woodland Garden.


Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isles of Scilly

An image, from above, of a small succulent garden

Tucked away on the tiny island of Tresco, just 28 miles off the Cornish coast, a visit to the Tresco Abbey Gardens feels like you’ve reached the ends of the Earth. This 19th-century creation, surrounding the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey, is home to an astounding 2,000 exotic plant species from the southern hemisphere and subtropics. The garden is a sanctuary for specimens from Brazil to New Zealand, Myanmar to South Africa. The spectacular array of exotic plants flourishing in an English garden is made even more incredible by its incongruous presence on a tiny island cast out in the Atlantic. Myriad paths lead you through flowers of the king protea, the handsome lobster claw, great blue spires of echium, and shocking-pink drifts of pelargonium. Keep an eye out for red squirrels and golden pheasants scampering past.

Where to stay: Newlyn, for easy transport links to the Isles of Scilly by helicopter or boat from Penzance (five minutes away), or airplane from Land's End (15 minutes away).

Feeling inspired? Read about A photographer's "Secret Garden meets Gatsby manor", The best surfing beaches in the UK and Ireland, or discover our collection of beautiful homes in Cornwall.

With thanks to Tate St Ives for imagery.