Seasonal highlights in Cotehele's garden

Spring bulbs flowering and white gate in the Upper Garden at Cotehele, Cornwall

We have taken the decision to close Cotehele garden indefinitely to help delay the spread of the coronavirus. Sadly, due to high numbers of people visiting this special place it became too difficult to monitor effective social distancing and our top priority must be the safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors.

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.

Spring bulbs

You can't miss the spring flowers in the meadow around the house as it fills with naturalised snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils in spring. There are over 200 different varieties of daffodils growing at Cotehele, which means you can see them in flower from February through til the end of May.

Daffodils near the Barn Restaurant at Cotehele
Daffodils growing in front of the house at Cotehele, Cornwall
Daffodils near the Barn Restaurant at Cotehele

The Terraces

The Terraces on the east side of the house are probably the most formally planted. They are designed to be at their best in summer, when you’ll find seasonally mixed borders of hydrangeas, roses, geraniums, a giant busy lizzie and a towering handkerchief tree in the north-east corner.

There’s still lots of colour in spring though, as the tulips we planted in winter begin flowering in April, livening up the beds. This year the colour combination is especially striking, with the bright orange Ballerina bulbs flowering alongside the hot pink Doll's Minuet. Also in the terraces, the flowering quince hedge along the borders has tiny pink flowers in spring too and at its feet sit purple primulas.

Tulips at Cotehele
Tulips at Cotehele, Cornwall
Tulips at Cotehele

Bluebells galore

Walk through Retainer's Court into the garden behind the house in April and you'll find naturalised bluebells in their element growing beneath the trees in Acer Grove. They're carpeting the ground and providing a beautiful colour contrast with the emerging red and yellow leaves of the acers. You'll find more bluebells on the countryside walks around Cotehele, especially on the roadside verges down to the quay and around the Chapel-in-the-wood.

Bluebell season in Cornwall
Bluebell in Cornwall
Bluebell season in Cornwall

The Valley garden

A tunnel from the terraces leads you into the steep and wild valley garden, with a path curving down to a summerhouse and the medieval dovecate and stewpond. This area looks amazing in spring, with camelias from early on, then magnolias and rhododendrons filling the place with colour in late-March, April and May.

You can walk through the garden down to the Chapel-in-the-wood and along to the quay, but if you take the top path instead, you'll be up close with the bluebells and rhododendrons rather than viewing them from a distance.

The Valley Garden at Cotehele
The Valley Garden in spring  at Cotehele, Cornwall
The Valley Garden at Cotehele

The Old Orchard

The old orchard contains a variety of productive trees including apples, Tamar cherries, pears and walnuts. The ground under the trees is covered with daffodils from March onwards, so although the trees are bare there's plenty of colour here.

From late-March/ April to May the trees fill with blossom and the airs hums with the sound of pollinators collecting nectar.

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

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

A visitor enjoying the apple blossom in Cotehele's traditional orchard.
A visitor walkingthrough an apple orchard in blossom
A visitor enjoying the apple blossom in Cotehele's traditional orchard.

The Upper Garden

Look under the trees in this area to discover daffodils and heart-shaped cyclamen leaves. The borders around the Upper Garden are colour themed and you'll find information on all the planting in stands alongside them.

The Cut Flower Garden

We begin planting out seedlings here in spring as 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.

Purple crocuses and white snowdrops 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.