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The garden at Trengwainton

Path surrounded by colourful rhododendron and azalea
The azalea garden at Trengwainton | © National Trust/Marina Rule

Trengwainton is a garden of contrasts with winding wooded paths that open onto wide grassy lawns and sea views. It’s celebrated for the collection of award-winning rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias within its 25 acres, some of which flowered here for the first time in Britain.

Spring in the garden

With the sea on three sides, including the Gulf Stream on its north coast, Cornwall is blessed with a mild climate which means spring comes early to Trengwainton. By the time the garden reopens in mid-February, there are usually snowdrops forming carpets beneath the trees, camellias in full bloom and hellebores and primroses adding to the colour.


Of all the different plants here though, surely the most dramatic has to be the magnolias which peak in March. There are around thirty throughout the garden and their big waxy flowers in shades of pink, white and magenta look incredible set against blue skies.

The earliest to flower – and the most spectacular - is the towering 103-year-old Magnolia Campbellii in the walled garden. Designated an English Champion thanks to the width of its canopy, this venerable tree is supported nowadays with the help of bungee cords tied to its huge limbs.

Later in the spring

As March gives way to April and May, Trengwainton’s historic and award-winning rhododendron collection comes into its own, with lofty trees giving vibrant bursts of colour throughout the garden. Some, including the pale lemon Rhododendron macabeanum, flowered for the first time in Britain here in this garden.

Their colours range from white through to the deep blood red of Rhododendron arboreum ‘Cornish Red.’ On warm spring days, be prepared to be stopped in your tracks by the heady fragrances of the pale pink Rhododendron loderi 'King George' and the white Rhododendron fragrantissimum.


April-May is also the time when Trengwainton’s winding wooded paths are lined with a spread of bluebells beneath the trees. Romantic poets such as Keats and Tennyson believed that bluebells symbolised solitude and regret, but we think you’d be hard-pressed to imagine a more uplifting sight than a carpet of bluebells bathed in the light of warm spring sunshine.

Top things to see

The view from the Terrace

On a clear day the view from the Terrace at the top of the garden stretches for 25 miles across Mount’s Bay to the Lizard peninsula beyond.

To reach it, choose either the shady path of the tree-lined Long Walk or the Carriage Drive which opens onto a colourful stream border and meadows.

The walled gardens

In the lower half of the garden are 10 sections of walled gardens. Five of these are crammed with tender exotic plants from around the world, and five more are a kitchen garden with unique sloping beds.

Home of springs

One translation for Trengwainton is ‘home of springs’ and water is certainly a feature here with two ponds and a gentle stream running through the centre of the garden. There are also two giant tree fern glades which give a Jurassic jungle feel as their huge fronds tower overhead.

A view over the fields at Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall
Sea view from the Terrace at Trengwainton Garden | © National Trust Images / Hugh Mothersole

Walking with your dog

The garden is half a mile long and on a steady incline, so whether you choose a gentle stroll or a brisk walk, it’s a great place to stretch your legs. You can bring along your four-legged friend too as dogs on leads are very welcome everywhere except inside the cafe and the second-hand bookshop (assistance dogs only in these buildings). Click here for more information on visiting Trengwainton with your dog.

Picnic spots

If you’re looking for somewhere to picnic, the orchard is a large grassy area with dappled shade from the apple trees, while the Terrace at the top of the garden has sea views stretching away across Mount's Bay. Halfway up the Carriage Drive there’s the Royal Meadow, complete with fairytale Edwardian summerhouse.

Dicksonia antarctica (tree fern) around the pond at Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall
The pond at Trengwainton Garden, Cornwall | © National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

Family fun

At Trengwainton we’ve a whole range of family events and activities throughout the year, including seasonal trails, Easter Egg Hunts, Summer of Play, autumn leafy adventures and the Christmas lights festival. For more information see our article: Family-friendly things to do at Trengwainton.

Silent spaces

If you’re looking for somewhere to sit quietly without the distraction of electronic devices, we’ve partnered with the national Silent Space charity (Registered charity no. 1190013) and set aside two areas in the garden for quiet contemplation; on the Terrace at the top of the garden is a summerhouse offering a sheltered spot to sit and silently gaze across 25 miles of sea to the Lizard peninsula beyond.

At the lower end of the garden is a secluded spot called the Laurel Circle, with its circular metal bench and surrounded by the evergreen leaves of laurels (open from Easter onwards).

Pink azaleas and rhododendron surrounding a wooden bridge at Trengwainton Garden

Discover more at Trengwainton Garden

Find out when Trengwainton Garden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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