Having recently bought an RHS membership, I really wanted to make the most of it and visit as many gardens in the UK as possible this year. Alongside their four main gardens, the RHS is partnered with a large number of gardens across the country, and the membership grants you access to these locations for free. However, unfortunately, many of these places only offer free entry during the off-season, meaning that you can only visit some between November and March or on specific days. When I got the full details of my membership I realised that many of the gardens in Cornwall were only available for free entry until March, so to get the most out of my membership we booked a short break away!
Living in Devon, most of Cornwall is only around a two-hour drive away, making it the perfect place for a weekend break. Setting off on Saturday morning we hit the road and headed south for Truro, where we stopped for lunch in Hubbox. It’s exciting to learn that this South West chain is soon to be opening a new restaurant in Barnstaple, which is very near to where I live! After refuelling with burgers and nachos, we continued South for Trebah gardens near Falmouth.
Trebah is a tropical paradise, with its very own river beach located at the end of the beautiful gardens. While the summer months are usually best known for gardens to be at their best, in March, Trebah was alive with brilliant pink blooms, including gorgeous rhododendrons, camellias and magnolias, in a wide variety of shades.
Paired with the luscious greens of the ferns, gunnera and bamboo gardens, the springtime colour palette for Trebah is incredible and makes the whole place feel very tranquil. At its riverside location, Trebah has many water features, including a small lake, water garden and koi pond, which are all stunning whatever the weather or season! This is definitely a spot I’d love to return to in the future, particularly in the summer months when the gunnera will be fully grown!
Lost Gardens of Heligan
After staying over in a Travelodge near Bodmin, we headed off for the Lost Gardens of Heligan near St Austell on Sunday morning. The so-called ‘lost’ gardens were found without gardeners following the First World War and were left for nature to take over until a huge restoration project took place in the 1990s. Today, the gardens are incredible and include stunning lawns, water gardens, kitchen gardens, and a jungle area. The main garden walk takes you through beautiful paths lined with incredible trees in bloom with some truly magnificent flowers. After a quick stop at the smaller café (they also have a restaurant) for a scone – the Cornish way, of course – we walked through the animal area, where goats, sheep, cows and ducks find their home, before heading for the wonderfully laid out kitchen and walled gardens.
My favourite part of Heligan, however, has to be the ‘Jungle’. Following the sculpture trail, where you can spot the iconic Mud Maid and Giant’s Head, there is a path that leads to the area known as the ‘Jungle’. A paradise packed full of ferns, gunnera and tropical trees, the Jungle plants surround a lake, and you can wander through the treetops along a ramp path, cross a rope bridge or head down to the lake to pass over the water on some stepping stones! It’s a really beautiful place, and if you can get around some of the steeper paths, it is definitely worth the walk from the gardens! The other best bit for me was that Heligan allows people to bring along their dogs, as long as they are on leads. This meant that the gardens were packed full of pups, and it was incredible as I got to pet so many!
With the visits to these two gardens, as well as two visits to RHS Rosemoor so far this year, I have already more than paid off my membership fee, so it has definitely been well worth it for me! If you love flowers as much as I do, then you should definitely pay a visit this year!