A small but simply stunning garden, it ranks highly in our ‘small is beautiful’ favourite Cornwall gardens.
Lamorran isn’t always on the list of gardening visits to Cornwall.
But that’s a real mistake as it’s a private coastal garden with a wonderful collection of statues, sub-tropical planting and a strong Japanese theme running through it. It is based on the southern slopes of a hill above the Cornish fishing village of St Mawes and enjoys a very favourable micro-climate where frosts are rare and sub –tropical plants from the southern hemisphere flourish.
The gardens were originally laid out in the 1980s by the present owners. With a large collection of palms and rare tree ferns, rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas the garden is also on the Roseland Peninsula with panoramic views of St Anthony´s Head and the lighthouse.
Robert and Maria-Antoinette Dudley-Cooke acquired the property in 1982. At the time the site was nothing more than an overgrown steep slope. When considering the potential of the site, its location conjured up memories of their travels to the gardens of La Montella on the Italian island of Ischia, and from hereon their ideas were transformed into reality at Lamorran.
Robert’s plan was to create an informal, romantic terraced garden with curving paths and occasional ‘reveals’ of the sea. A large collection of rhododendron and evergreen azaleas were brought from their former garden in Surrey, forming the basis for the early plantings.
For many years the family would travel down from London every Friday on the train, when Robert and the family would spend the weekend working on the gardens. Drawing inspiration from the spirit of Japanese, Mediterranean, and English gardens, Lamorran began to take shape.
Now you can find over 500 varieties of azaleas bursting into bloom as a result of his initial efforts.
As he set about re-creating the gardens of his new residence, the first major development was the Japanese garden with a grotto and waterfall. Then the lower garden was transformed into a Mediterranean-style garden with innovative terrace-plantings in the style of the great gardens of the Italian Riviera. A small temple sits above a wall of bougainvillea and from the succulent bank sprouts agaves and lampranthus.
A small Venetian styled bridge from which the visitor has a view out to sea leaning over a balustrade. Standing in this area it is difficult to believe you are on the British mainland with massed plantings of organge gazaniasand arctotis.
Visitors can wander through various types of acacias, hundreds of palms – 32 different species – and tree ferns – cyatheas and dicksonias – and experience a distinctly tropical atmosphere. This is a fantastic garden for strolling and relaxing, or for keen garden-enthusiasts to nose into the techniques of the acclimatisation of exotics in the Cornish climate.
- The gardens are open twice a week until the end of September. On Wednesdays and Fridays, from 10am to 5pm.
- Admission is £9.50 per adult, under-16s free.
- No credit cards – cash or cheques only.
- No dogs allowed.
- Lamorran Garden is built on a slope with intertwining gravel paths. Therefore access to the main garden would be difficult by wheelchair. The disabled visitor may enjoy the view from the terrace out to sea and garden. No entry charge is made.
- Group bookings are always welcome but pre-booking is required. For group rates contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lamorran Gardens is also quite near the better known and much larger UK National Trust gardens of Glendurgan, Trelissick and Trebah, so it’s easy to combine a visit.
Lamorran House Gardens, Upper Castle Rd, St Mawes TR2 5BZ
Open Wednesday and Friday, 10am –5pm, April to September