Trelissick garden

Trelissick in Cornwall,  Tregothnan Lawn autumn colour

As the leaves fall and the season changes, it's the perfect time to take in the stunning display of Autumn colour in the garden.

Trelissick is a woodland garden hidden in the banks of the Fal, with far - reaching maritime views. The garden as it looks today with canopies of Beech, sweet chestnut, and specimen conifers is roughly from 1870 onwards.

The main plant collections are Magnolias, Camellias, Rhododendrons and Hydrangeas.  Formal lawns sweep to estuary views.

The garden has always evolved, with each owner adding an interesting layer. The bulk of the plant collection is from the 1930's to the present day so it has a relatively modern atmosphere with references to the past reflected in the fabric of the garden - Victorian brick walls to stone walls and wooden summerhouses.

Different owners added their history and plants, and the National Trust have added to the collection making a rich and fascinating place to explore.

Autumn colour

The garden changes mood in the autumn as the wet windy weather sets in. The atmosphere changes as the leaves change colour and drop, leaving the evergreens which create the framework of the garden to dominate and show off their true character. Light also influences the appearance of the  garden at this time of the year and in many ways brings the true magic of Trelissick to life. These colours and the light create contrast, bringing the best out of the views and setting of the place.

The mild climate often sees plants growing and flowering right into November.  In the borders late flowering dahlias, canna and gingerlillies will carry on producing interest.

In all areas of the garden trees and shrubs such as the maples and liquid amber, turn purples, reds and yellow as the leaves fall. The hydrangea collection sees the old mop heads turning different colours and creating lacey patterns.

Main Lawn

The main lawn is at the very heart of the garden with sweeping views around the mixed exotic borders (at their best in late Summer). Later in the year Ginger lilies, Dahlia’s and bananas create a rich tapestry of flower and foliage.

Trelissick Dahlia in full bloom in the garden
Trelissick Dahlia purple close-up

The focal point of the lawn is the iconic and huge Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese red cedar) which was planted in 1898 an extremely long lived tree that in Japan thinks nothing of growing for well over 1000 years.

The Tennis Court

The Tennis court lawn is surrounded with hardy perennials and shrubs, mainly from the southern hemisphere to cope with the prevailing south west winds. The plantings are subtle so you are not distracted form the views of the river Fal.

The estuary is the 3rd deepest natural harbour in the world and can accommodate some enormous ships. If you are lucky enough on a spring tide you may see one of the being towed into place up stream.  They can often be spotted moored up for in between work or for repairs.

The ha ha (ditch) was created to allow for unbroken views across the lawn to the rolling parkland, while keeping the animal stock out of the garden. This is a lovey area and always well maintained to some formality to the surrounding more informal spring walk.

Jack Lillys Summer house

This was built to commemorate the life of Jack Lilly, Head Gardener when the National Trust took over Trelissick from 1955 until his retirement in the 1980s. It overlooks the Fal river.

Directly below the summer house is a modern mussel farm fishery. Oyster fishing is still happening in the Fal and is traditionally done by punt in the river, and by working boats which can often be seen working the river during the warmer months.

The native tan oak (Quercus petrea) on the east side of the river was traditionally managed for the tanning of leather as well as the production of charcoal.

The Celtic Cross Paths

This part of the garden has been recently cleared to create a fascinating Himalayan walk. Mainly Asiatic species of Rhododendron, Magnolia, and Acer as well as many more interesting and unusual species of temperate. These show off the topography of the site and create a plantsman’s paradise ultimately resembling a Himalayan temperate forest - the inspiration of many great Cornish gardens.

The Dell

The Dell is traditionally where the shade loving plants such as Camellias and Himalayan species of Rhododendron were planted.  Bamboo, conifers and palms add to the jungle like atmosphere that Cornwall is renowned for.

Take a peek outside the garden, through the ferry entrance at the bottom of the Dell, open from spring throughout the summer, and join the woodland walk for a look at the river and the King Harry Ferry which takes passengers across the river. Did you know you can come to Trelissick via ferry? Fal River ferries have more information on the ferries they run to the garden. Continue along the woodland walk to explore the countryside or back in to the garden. Walking guides are available from the ferry entrance.


Across the bridge (the original entrance to the estate in 1700s) is Carcadden a 7 acre arboretum which was the original orchard. Due to its south facing slope made it is perfect site for specimen trees - laid out in a light and airy way a contrast to the more informal woodland style of the main garden. Autumn shows it's colours here . The Magnolias flower in early Spring and give a truly spectacular show.

New Cornish Orchard

The new orchard was planted 20 years ago to replicate the original Trelissick Orchard. There are over 70 varieties of old Cornish apples, with names such as Pigs snout.  A romantic recreation of a farm orchard with large old and a wild flower meadow. The meadow is mowed and collected throughout the year to reduce fertility until April when it is allowed to come up and flower and then cut for hay in July if the weather is good.

The Orchard is managed as traditionally as possible and has become a haven for wildlife. This is a great place to relax and take in the wildlife and for the children to run around in the long meadow grass and wildflowers in the Summer.

The garden has numerous paths as well as the varied collection of plants and views to take in. Detailed maps are available from the garden entrance and shop if you want to know more.