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Visiting Cotehele's garden

One visitor poses for a photo in front of a garden wall in the gardens at Cotehele, Cornwall
Exploring the gardens at Cotehele | © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

The Cotehele estate is home to 5.5 hectares (14 acres) of garden and 5 hectares (12 acres) of orchards so there’s plenty to discover. The garden is unique and varied all year round. Each season offers something new and exciting for visitors, from cut flowers and herbaceous borders to grand orchards and a cider press.

Spring in Cotehele’s orchards

Thanks to the South West’s mild climate, Cotehele’s orchards are some of the earliest to blossom in the country each year. Cotehele’s orchards contain a variety of trees including apples, Tamar cherries, plums, pears and walnuts, each with its own distinctive blossom.

In spring, the trees fill with blossom, which circles like summer snow before carpeting the orchard floor. Meanwhile the air hums with the sound of pollinators collecting nectar and the ground underneath fills with a sea of bluebells.

Cotehele's garden

East Terraces

You’ll find terraced herbaceous borders on the east side of the house, leading down to the fantastic view of the viaduct towards the village of Calstock.

Here there are seasonally mixed borders of hydrangeas, roses, geraniums, irises, salvia, Centaurea Montana and Centaurea Montana Alba and Veronicastrum.

Upper Garden

The Upper Garden has a central pond, which is filled with red and white water lilies in the summer. Their lily pads provide shelter for the frogs that spawn here in spring.

The pond is framed on all four sides by herbaceous borders planted in different colour schemes. These planting schemes follow a plan introduced by garden adviser Graham Stuart Thomas in the 1960s.

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 summerhouse, a medieval stewpond and dovecote. Relax by the serene pond and then follow one of the wildflower-lined paths down to the quay.

The Cut Flower Garden

The Cut Flower Garden is where our team grow a variety of flowers for display within the house and for our 60ft-long Christmas flower garland which can usually be seen within the Great Hall between November and December. Annually our team pick, strip and dry over 20,000 flowers for the garland - the number varies depending on the growing season.

Early Spring from the terrace at Cotehele, Cornwall
Early Spring from the terrace at Cotehele, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Mel Peters

Cotehele’s orchards

Cotehele is home to a few different orchards which, as well as providing us with beautiful spaces to relax and delicious food and drink, are also home to many bees, butterflies and insects. There’s something to admire and enjoy in the orchards throughout the year, as every season makes it mark.

The Old Orchard

The Old Orchard was part of a wider deer park surrounding the garden at Cotehele in the 16th century. Today the orchard is filled with a variety of fruit trees, including apples, cherries, plums and medlars, with some dating back to 1960.

The Old Orchard is often filled with daffodils in the spring. Some of the oldest daffodils planted at Cotehele can be found around the banks of the former pond.

The Mother Orchard

The Mother Orchard at Cotehele was planted to provide a set of ‘mother trees’ that can be used for the selection of future varieties for both domestic and commercial use. The orchard includes more than 300 trees and 125 different heritage varieties of apple tree including Cornish Honeypinnick, Limberlimb, Pig’s Nose and Lemon Pippin. The varieties grown here have been bred to survive the south-west peninsula’s mild and damp climatic conditions.

Old Orchard closure

To allow the Old Orchard to rest after a wet winter and to allow the paths to recover, the Old Orchard is currently closed. We plan to reopen this area ahead of the daffodil season.

What's that plant?

If you see a plant you’d like to identify you can simply email askthecotehelegardener@nationaltrust.org.uk. A member of the team will help identify it.

Try to include the location, attach some photographs, and describe any special features such as flower and leaf shape, colour, bark etc.

Visitors exploring the garden in spring at Cotehele, Cornwall

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