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5 Cornish gardens to inspire your own outside space

As RHS Chelsea gets underway in May for the first time in three years, here are our pick of Cornwall's finest gardens where we are heading for some inspiration for our own outside space.

Cotehele, St Dominick, Callington

There’s lots to be inspired by at Cotehele, with 14 acres of gardens and 12 acres of orchards, but it is the terraced garden above, which borders the tudor house to the east, looking over to the viaduct towards Calstock, that we liked the most. The terraced herbaceous borders are planted with a seasonal mix of hydrangeas, roses, geraniums, irises, salvia, Centaurea Monatana and Centaurea Montana Alba and Veronicastrum – they are just coming into their summer bloom and the foxgloves are looking particularly fine. Later in the summer look out for the cut flower garden, where the team grow the blooms for the 60ft-long flower garland usually on display in the Great Hall at Christmas.

Eden Project, Bodelva, Par

Forget the biomes, we’re heading straight for the new “Pollinator Pathmaker“, a permanent 55-metre-long living artwork by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg that explores the vital role of pollinators – and it is coming into full bloom for the first time this month. The seeds for this unique artwork were planted in Autumn, and now the work has sprouted and blossomed over the winter months, ready for both the ‘human’ public and pollinating species – including bees, moths, beetles, and wasps – to engage with and enjoy. All our gardens could do with encouraging more pollinators, so we are looking forward to bee-ing (sorry) inspired by the 64 plant species in situ.

Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St Austell

The gates above lead to the scented garden, part of Heligan’s ‘Pleasure Grounds’ – an unusual range of romantic structures and unexpected features linked by historic pathways. Look out for the sundial garden too, with what was noted in 1896 to have the “finest herbaceous border in Britain” and once again bursting with heritage blooms. For more practical ideas head to the Productive Gardens which include the kitchen garden, walled flower garden and the melon yard (which also houses pineapples and the potting shed of dreams). Your allotment will never look the same again!

Barbara Hepworth Sculpture Garden, St Ives

Go for the sculptures but stay for the planting in the gardens and greenhouse. During Hepworth’s life time this was a working garden and a lot of the planting is as she designed it. The garden team has worked from archival photos to reintroduce the same form and foliage that Hepworth had originally planted, in particular the Cineraria plant for harmonised colour which was present in the 70s, but has over the decades since gradually disappeared. A relatively small space, but bursting with separate areas and interest, the high white walls, workshop, sculptures and multiple water features provide endless inspiration for our own spaces as well as a contemplative place to enjoy in all seasons.

Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, Nr Lostwithiel

Call us biased, because the Bee Garden is where we held our Muddy Award drinks last year, but we love the Duchy Nursery for garden inspiration. It doesn’t just sell plants, although of course it does that too, exceeding well, but from the lavender and the trees out front to the rose and dahlias in the bee garden, the planting here is both beautiful and inspiring. Nurseries often seem like they cater for large gardens only but here there is just as much inspiration if you only have a small space too, as the team manage to fill every corner and barrow and tub with interesting and sustainable ideas, designed for the Cornish climate. The glasshouse is also full of houseplants and we defy you to leave without at least one new plant in your boot.

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