The South West’s prettiest gardens for a stroll in the sunshine
Our top 10 picks for Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset
From exotic jungles by the coast to wildflower meadows in the English countryside, the South West is home to a whole host of beautiful gardens. Featuring some great family-friendly days out and plenty of recommendations for a walk in the sun, we’ve rounded up our favourites.
1. RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon
Be enchanted by cherry blossom, take a walk through the orchards, swing by the croquet lawn or see the stumpery – however you spend your time at Rosemoor, there’s plenty to be explored. One of Devon’s most prolific gardens, the vast estate is nestled in the Torridge Valley, offering acre after acre of wildflower meadows, arboretums and forest.
The Rosemoor Garden Kitchen serves fantastic local ingredients, including fruit and veg from the garden just footsteps away. Pick up a picnic bag from the kitchen and find a quiet spot on the grass, or pop into Wisteria Tearoom or The Shepard’s Rest to enjoy something sweet with views over the lake.
Nearest property: The Downes
2. The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall
Set against the picturesque backdrop of Mevagissey in South Cornwall, The Lost Gardens of Heligan are among the finest in the county. Loved for its leafy jungles, courtyard gardens and programme of seasonal events, the estate is the perfect place for a day out with the family. Explore over 200 acres of woodland, wildlife and subtropical plants, walk across the rope bridge or visit the farm to spot some of Heligan’s new arrivals. Children will delight in discovering Heligan’s resident Mud Maid, Grey Lady and The Giant’s Head peeking out of the grass.
If the sun is shining, we recommend buying an ice cream to enjoy on the grass. For bigger appetites, the on-site kitchen and bakery are open year round.
Nearest property: Ocean View
3. Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens in Dorset
World famous for its collection of magnolias and camellia groves, this exquisite West Dorset garden is steeped in history, dating back as far as 1541. Pretty walled gardens and immersive jungle glades feature some of the country’s most unique plants, while sculpture trails will keep all ages occupied. From the ever-pretty viewpoint of the Magnolia Walk, the views over Dorset’s iconic Jurassic Coast aren’t to be missed.
For outdoor fine dining, we recommend booking a table at Nick Holt’s pop-up restaurant, where you can sample a menu of the county’s finest produce among the flowers.
4. Trebah Gardens in Cornwall
Cornwall’s very own subtropical paradise, the lovely Trebah Gardens come alive during the summer months. Open every day and with four miles of footpath winding through the estate – from the 100-year-old rhododendrons to the delicately scented camellias – there’s always something new to explore.
Adventure play areas and children’s trails will keep little ones entertained, while dogs on leads are welcome to enjoy a walk through the grounds. Head to the amphitheatre for spectacular shows of theatre, music, comedy, puppetry and dance, or pop into Trebah Kitchen to savour fresh summer salads, Cornish mussels or artisan pizzas.
Nearest property: Compass Point
5. Hestercombe Gardens in Somerset
From Georgian landscaping to Victorian shrubbery and Edwardian formal gardens, Hestercombe is the perfect setting to enjoy a walk through the ages. Whether you’re making the most of a sunny afternoon with the family or stretching your legs with a four-legged friend, these beautiful Somerset gardens have something for everyone.
Stay late on warm summer evenings to enjoy seasonal events including Fire and Feast night and Punting on the Pear Pond, or settle in with a picnic to enjoy Jazz on the Lawn by the orangery.
6. Mount Edgecombe House and Garden in Cornwall
Overlooking the River Tamar on Cornwall’s idyllic Rame Peninsula, this gorgeous 10-acre site is home to 13 different types of formal and informal gardens. From the romantic Italian to the modern Jubilee and the one-of-a-kind Black Bee Reserve, the sprawling estate is bursting with bright and beautiful gardens. Enjoy a stroll through the grounds and visit Mount Edgecumbe House, spot deer through the trees or wander down to the coastline to soak up the views.
There are plenty of lovely lunch stops in the park, while down by the waterfront in Cremyll sits the Edgecumbe Arms, a charming pub serving a classic Cornish menu.
Nearest property: Sea Edge
7. The Garden House in Devon
Enjoying explosive pops of colour as far as the eye can see, The Garden House occupies a pretty pocket of countryside on the edge of Dartmoor. Its spectacular wildflower meadows and neat herbaceous borders make it popular among green-fingered visitors, while the secret pathways and garden trails are perfect for families.
Weave your way through the daisies and alliums and duck underneath the blue hued canopy of wisteria on a guided tour of the grounds, or pop into the Potting Shed shop for gardening inspiration. If you’re visiting with children, don’t forget to try one of the late summer masterclasses or see The Legend of King Arthur performed live in the gardens.
8. Stourhead in Somerset
With a magnificent lake as its centrepiece, the coveted Stourhead sits on the Somerset border, boasting over 2,000 acres of parkland, farmland and ancient woods. A walk around the estate will unearth picture-perfect temples, grottoes and a myriad of rare, exotic plants. There’s plenty of space for summertime picnics, with extensive lawns outside the Palladian house.
Stourhead enjoys a great summer schedule, with guided tours, calligraphy workshops and bespoke tree climbing experiences taking place throughout the season.
9. Knightshayes in Devon
A real countryside idyll, Knightshayes is set within 50 glorious acres of Devonshire parkland, not far from the historic market town of Tiverton. The grand Victorian manor house is a must-visit for lovers of architectural design, with its fairytale turrets and gothic gargoyles transporting visitors back in time.
Inside the pretty kitchen garden grows a plentiful harvest of fruit and vegetables, ready to be served up in the Stables Café. Meanwhile, a trail of gently flowering borders and intricate topiaries lead the way towards plenty of woodland walks and wild play areas.
10. Glendurgan Gardens in Cornwall
Sitting on the tranquil Helford River, Glendurgan Garden is one of Cornwall’s National Trust treasures. With its own private beach at the bottom of a flower-lined valley, it’s an ideal setting for visitors of all ages. Young adventurers will love playing in the hedge maze and on the Giant’s Stride rope swing, while keen wildlife watchers are sure to enjoy the abundance of birds flitting throughout the flora and fauna.
For a lovely day out with the family, pack a picnic and walk down to the unspoilt hamlet of Durgan, passing the carpet of wildflowers that hug the valley slopes. The beach at the bottom is the ideal place for building sandcastles and skimming stones across the water.
Many of our holiday homes have beautiful gardens and stunning views. If you’re looking for a private patch of paradise, then view our full list of properties and be inspired here.