Seasonal highlights in Cotehele's garden

Wintry morning on the East Terrace

There’s something new in the garden at Cotehele 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.


Please book ahead before visiting the garden and orchard 

The garden and orchard at Cotehele are open for local visitors during the national lockdown. If you need to travel outside of your village, town or city to visit us, please consider if your visit is still appropriate during this time.

We've introduced advance booking to keep everyone safe and maintain social distancing. To avoid disappointment please book in advance, especially at busier times such as weekends and bank holidays. You can book your tickets online or by calling 0344 249 1895. You do not need to book to visit the quay or wider estate. We're looking forward to welcoming you back.

What parts of the garden are currently open?

There is a one-way route in some parts of the garden. The Valley Garden, Prospect Tower and Nelson's Piece is currently closed.


Snowdrops in the Upper Garden

In winter, look out for the display of brilliantly coloured dogwoods taking center stage on the pond island. The white bed, behind the cut flower garden is also looking its best in the winter months, with heather, hellebore and snowflakes to delight.

The winter garden is a precursor to what will come in spring, as at the edges of the garden, the deep borders are colour themed. The top (north) border is planted 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.

In the meadows and borders, snowdrops, primroses and crocus can be seen peeking through the grass, bringing colour to the garden.


Upper Garden
Upper Garden
Upper Garden


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, a giant busy lizzie and a towering handkerchief tree in the north-east corner.

In winter we cut back the herbaceous plants to tidy them up. It's also the time of year when we plant tulips, to be ready for spring flowering. With the bare branches, enjoy uninterrupted views across the river Tamar and of Calstock viaduct.

Volunteers gardening in the East Terrace
Volunteers gardening in the East Terrace
Volunteers gardening in the East Terrace

The Valley Garden

The Valley Garden is currently closed whilst essential maintenance is completed. We hope to be able to re-open this part of the garden soon.

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 stew pond and dovecote.

Winter is the time when you can see the trees in their naked form and on a clear day you can really appreciate the size of the valley.


Valley Garden in the winter
Valley garden in the winter
Valley Garden in the winter

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 usually on display in the Great Hall between November and December. Annually there are 20,000-40,000 flowers in the garland - the number varies depending on the growing season.

In winter, once the last of the flowers have bloomed, the beds are made ready for the planting of next years seeds.


The Orchards

Once, the leaves have fallen after a productive autumn harvest of apples, Tamar cherries, pears and walnuts, the trees can be pruned. Annual pruning encourages fruit and opens up the crown to allow air to circulate through the branches and allows the gardeners to have a good look for any fungus, pests or disease.

A 1731 map of Cotehele indicates that areas behind the house have been used for growing fruit trees for many years. Despite the appearance of the lichen-covered trees in the Old Orchard, many of these trees were planted since the 1960s.

The Mother Orchard, inspired and informed by apple collectors and propagators James Evans and Mary Martin, was planted over ten years ago as part of a wider programme to trial West Country apple varieties. There are over 300 trees in the orchard representing 125 different varieties of predominantly local origin.


Robin on the back of a bench 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.