Caerhays Castle and Gardens
A riot of colour and history on the Cornish coast
Caerhays Castle and Gardens is located in a sheltered valley overlooking Porthluney Cove on the south Cornish coast halfway between Truro and St. Austell. The gardens and castle are usually open to the public from mid Feburary to mid June.
Why you should visit:
- Take a guided tour of the Castle to delve further into its outstanding English Heritage
- 140 acres of beautiful woodland gardens
- Home to a National Magnolia Collection
- The gardens are a spring-time wonderland for visitors
- The Williams family have played an immense part in the introduction of new plants into their everyday garden.
- Featured on Rick Stein’s Cornwall – Series 2
- Regularly used as a film location including the Rosamunde Pilcher films.
- The support provided to the intrepid plant hunters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the care and attention lavished on the plants and seeds brought back, along with the hybridising program which still exists today,mean that Caerhays Castle Garden will continue to not only maintain and care for the older plants but will produce many new varieties in the future
- Beautiful Caerhays beach nearby
The surrounding parkland and woodland gardens were created in the main from the discoveries of the plant hunters in China shortly after the turn of the 20th century. Since then a great deal of hybridisation work and especially the creation of the first x williamsii camellias, has taken place at Caerhays to create the extensive woodland gardens which visitors can admire and enjoy today. Caerhays is very much a spring garden and is at its best in March, April and May. The castle, where the family still live is only open for more limited periods so please do check opening times carefully.
The historical gardens have been created around a grand castle built by John Nash in 1808. Since 1370 only two families have resided here, and when the Williams family took over 150 years ago it was little more than a dilapidated castle surrounded by a deer park.
It is the informal woodland garden that makes this an exciting horticultural hotspot. Created by J.C. Williams, who sponsored plant-hunting expeditions to China at the turn of the 19th Century, the gardens are the result of some of the first adventurous plant-hunting missions to Asia.
Williams was big fan of daffodil breeding, and much of his hybridisation technique derived from the pioneering methods being experimented with at the time. When Caerhays was chosen as one of the key places to test the survival of new varieties of rhododendrons coming over from China, Williams supported further plant-hunting missions that inspired the radiant blooms that can be found flourishing in the garden today.
The biggest cluster of rhododendrons now adorns a big quarry at the base of the hill, and the national magnolia collection is so prolific it now consists of over 450 types and is one of the most important collections in the British Isles.
Noted not only for boasting staggering plots of camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons, Caerhays is rich in all of the common Asiatic shrubs, and is considered a spectacular spot by the even the highest calibre of plantsman.
Follow one of four marked woodland trails for some fantastic walking.
- Mevagissey / The Roseland
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