Cotehele garden and orchards

Cotehele’s garden is relatively young in historical terms. It has developed since the sixteenth century and continues to vary and evolve each year.

The garden is open every day from dawn to dusk.

There’s something new in the garden for you to discover 365 days of the year. Spanning 14 acres plus 12 acres of orchard, it has variety far beyond the average garden on account of its terrain, rills and juxtaposition to the house.

The Old Orchard

The old orchard contains a variety of productive trees including apples, Tamar cherries, pears and walnuts. Autumn is a busy season when we harvest the apples. Although the lichen covered trees look old, many if not all are comparatively recent, having been planted since the 1960s. Despite the young age of the present trees, a 1731 map of Cotehele indicates that areas behind the house have been used for growing fruit trees for many years.

The Mother Orchard

We're busy in autumn harvesting apples here too. Apple collectors and propagators James Evans and Mary Martin inspired and informed the Mother Orchard. It was planted in 2007 and is part of a wider programme to trial West Country apple varieties. There are over 300 trees in the orchard representing some 120 different varieties of predominantly local origin.

The varieties grown here have been bred over the last 250 years to survive the mild and damp climatic conditions of the southwest peninsula. The intention of the current project is to provide a reference set of ‘mother trees’ that can be used for the selection of future varieties for both domestic and commercial use.

Apples on a beehive in the orchard
Assorted apples on a beehive in the orchard at Cotehele, Cornwall

The Terraces

The Terraces on the east side of the house are probably the most formally planted. Here you’ll find seasonally mixed borders of hydrangeas, roses, geraniums, spring tulips, a giant busy lizzie, magnolias, azaleas and a towering handkerchief tree in the north east corner.

In autumn the Aster ‘purple dome’ will be in full flower. If you pop through the archway on the north end and go past the lime tree, you’ll find Acer Grove with brilliant autumn colour. 

The East Terraces in autumn at Cotehele
View of the east range of the house and East Terraces garden in autumn at Cotehele, Cornwall

The Valley Garden

A tunnel from the formal terraces leads to the steep and wild Valley Garden with a path curving down to a thatched Victorian summer house, a medieval stewpond and dovecote. In autumn you'll find colourful foliage, especially in the acers and purple beech. A gate at the bottom takes you to the tiny Chapel-in-the-Wood, built by Sir Richard Edgcumbe I.

The Valley Garden in autumn at Cotehele
Empty bench in Valley Garden with autumn colours all around at Cotehele, Cornwall

The Upper Garden

In autumn, a circuit around the Upper Garden shows off ash and dogwoods in their finest seasonal hues. At the edges of the garden, the deep borders are colour themed. The top (north) border is in ‘hot’ colours, and the west border is in golds and silvers, following a plan introduced by gardens adviser Graham Stuart Thomas in the 1960s.

The American ash on the east side, dogwoods on the island in the pond, the yellow stemmed ash and the tulip tree all love to perform in autumn.

The American ash in autumn in the Upper Garden at Cotehele
The American ash in autumn foliage at Cotehele, Cornwall

The Cut Flower Garden

This is where we grow a variety of annual flowers for both the house and the 60ft-long Christmas flower garland. In autumn, the flowers have been harvested and dried, ready for garland building. Annually there are 20,000-40,000 flowers in the garland -- the number varies depending on the growing season.

You can watch the gardeners building the Christmas flower garland in the Great Hall between 1 - 10 November, 11am-4pm. The garland will be on display between 11 November - 6 January, 2018 (except 25 and 26 December), 11am-4pm.

A gardener puts flowers into the Christmas garland at Cotehele, Cornwall

The 2017 Christmas garland at Cotehele

Each year Cotehele gardeners build a 60ft-long garland from thousands of flowers grown on the estate. A tradition since 1956, the garland adorns the Tudor Hall throughout Christmas.

Dozens of golden daisies at Cotehele, Cornwall

What's that plant?

If you see a plant you'd like to identify and you don't see a gardener nearby, simply email: and a member of the team will identify the plant. Try to: >> Describe the location > > Provide some photographs > > Describe any special features such as flower and leaf shape, colour, bark etc.

Garden volunteer pushing a wheelbarrow at Cotehele, Cornwall

A career launched at Cotehele

Nicolas Pueppke spent six months volunteering in the garden at Cotehele. Now he’s a full-time gardener in Italy.