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Pinetum Gardens

pinetum gardens

Discover a Tranquil Plant Lover’s Paradise at Pinetum Gardens

Nestled in a sheltered valley near St Austell lies the breathtaking Pinetum Gardens – one of Cornwall’s finest arboretums showcasing over 6000 species. Whether you’re a keen gardener or simply want somewhere tranquil to escape the crowds, discovering this hidden 30 acre hillside haven promises a memorable day.

Wander through exotic jungle domes with towering palms, sample homegrown produce, marvel at one of Europe’s largest camellia collections in spring or simply relax overlooking lush leafy vistas guaranteed to restore calm. Here’s everything you need to know.

pinetum arboretum

Getting There

The Pinetum Gardens are tucked just a few miles northeast of St Austell near the village of St Blazey along minor roads.

You’ll find the entrance on the unnamed road looping east off the old A390 heading towards Par. Some signage is provided from key junctions. Limited parking is available at the botanic gardens.

Opening Times & Tickets

Standard Opening Hours:

April to September : 10am-5pm daily

October to March: 10am-4pm daily

Ticket prices:

Adult Ticket: £16 | Children (11-16) £8 | Under 11: Free

Specialist group tours and workshop events also frequently run outside general public hours.

Check the Pinetum website for full details about opening hours and tickets.

pinetum cornsih garden

Pinetum Gardens History

This 30-acre haven, now cherished for its tranquil beauty, started its journey not as a garden, but as a scarred land marked by the legacy of Cornwall’s mining past.

The land’s earliest story likely dates back to the 19th century, when it served as a source of copper and tin, two minerals that fueled Cornwall’s economy. The pursuit of these precious metals left behind a landscape riddled with mine shafts, spoil heaps, and barren patches. By the mid-20th century, this scarred land remained unused, a stark reminder of the region’s industrial past.

In 1976, however, a new chapter began. The land was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Johns, a couple with a vision to transform the barren terrain into a flourishing garden. Inspired by their love for plants and nature, they embarked on a decades-long project of reclamation and cultivation. This ambitious endeavor, driven by sheer passion and dedication, would give birth to Pinetum Gardens as we know it today.

The early years were marked by heavy labour. The Johns family, alongside hired help, spent years clearing debris, levelling uneven ground, and creating fertile beds from the once-barren soil. They sourced and planted trees, initially focusing on conifers, which gave the garden its name “Pinetum.” However, their vision extended beyond simply a pine collection. They dreamed of a diverse haven showcasing plants from around the world, reflecting their own love for travel and exploration.

pinetum gardens

As the years passed, Pinetum Gardens gradually blossomed. Each acquired acre presented new opportunities for expansion and thematic development. In 1993, the Pinetum itself, a dedicated area filled with majestic conifers from across the globe, was established. Over time, themed garden rooms inspired by various corners of the world began to take shape. The Japanese Garden, with its serene koi pond and meticulously sculpted bonsai, transported visitors to the East. The Mediterranean Garden, bursting with vibrant lavender and citrus trees, evoked the warmth of southern Europe.

The garden’s growth wasn’t solely focused on aesthetics. The Johns family were passionate about conservation and sustainability. They actively sought out and cultivated rare and endangered plant species, contributing to their preservation. Additionally, they adopted practices that minimized environmental impact, such as utilizing rainwater harvesting and organic pest control methods.

Today, Pinetum Gardens stands as a testament to the transformative power of vision and dedication. From its scarred industrial past, it has risen to become a botanical paradise, home to over 4,000 different plant species. It’s a haven for nature lovers, photographers, and families seeking a peaceful escape amidst the Cornish countryside. More than just a collection of plants, Pinetum Gardens embodies the story of human resilience, creativity, and love for the natural world.

Key Highlights to Enjoy

There are 10 different sections to Pinetum Gardens, each with its own unique feel and vibe. You will find something to enjoy in all of them.

Japanese Garden: Inspired by Japanese Zen gardens, this garden features a tranquil atmosphere with a central pond, stone lanterns, and a tea pavilion. It’s a place to find peace and serenity amidst the beauty of nature.

Arboretum: This peaceful and tranquil space showcases a diverse collection of trees from around the world, including oaks, maples, and redwoods. Wander along the winding paths and discover the unique characteristics of each tree.

Cornish Cottage Garden: A charming and colorful display of traditional Cornish cottage garden plants, bursting with perennials, shrubs, and climbing vines. Immerse yourself in the vibrant blooms and buzzing with insects.

pinetum old garden

Courtyard Garden: Designed with a formal layout, this garden features a central statue surrounded by colorful flowerbeds. The geometric shapes and vibrant colors create a visually stunning and inviting space.

Bridge Garden: Take a stroll under the beautiful white wisteria that perfumes the air in this delightful garden. Discover other sweet-scented plants and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.

Sunken Garden: Sheltered by surrounding walls, this garden offers a warm and sunny spot to relax and soak up the sunshine. Admire the diverse plant life, from colorful flowers to lush greenery.

Pinetum: Home to an impressive collection of over 80 different conifers, this garden is a haven for those who appreciate the unique beauty of these cone-bearing trees. Learn about different species and their fascinating characteristics.

Water Garden: Immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of this garden, teeming with nature and wildlife. Discover a variety of plants, from majestic magnolias to playful deer, around the meandering water features.

Winter Garden: Designed in the shape of a rose, with paths spiraling outwards from the center, this garden offers year-round interest. Even in winter, you’ll find colorful blooms and interesting textures to enjoy.

Woodland Garden: Wander through a magical woodland teeming with thousands of snowdrops in late winter and early spring. As the season progresses, discover a variety of other plants and wildflowers carpeting the forest floor

Vegetable Garden & Courtyard Cafe

Relax under pretty parasols admiring kitchen garden scenes before grazing on tasty lunches, Cornish cream teas and homemade cakes at this tranquil cafe. The perfect recharge spot after exploring four miles of paths.

Don’t Miss Seasonal Delights!

From show-stopping rhododendron displays in May to Australia/New Zealand plant selections at their vibrant best in September, the Pinetum Garden calendar promises floral inspiration all season long. Time your visit right to catch nature’s seasonal showstoppers!

water garden pinetum

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the gardens wheelchair accessible? – Yes, most paths are wheelchair accessible and they offer mobility scooters for hire.

Are dogs allowed? – Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome throughout the gardens.

What is the best time of year to visit the gardens? – Each season offers unique beauty, spring for colourful blooms, summer for lush greenery, and autumn for vibrant foliage.

How long does it take to explore the gardens? – Allow 2-3 hours for a leisurely visit, but you can spend more or less depending on your pace and interests.

Nearby places to visit

  • World of Model Railways – Located in Mevagissey, this fascinating museum displays an extensive collection of model railway layouts, replica trains and railway memorabilia plus themed play zones and interactive exhibits.
  • Lost Gardens of Heligan – Just 10 minutes drive away, explore these mysterious ‘lost’ gardens which have been restored to their former 18th century glory, with areas inspired by the tropics and gigantic sculptures.
  • Eden Project – Around a 25 minute drive away, this popular eco-attraction consists of huge biomes housing impressive global plant life displays under gigantic domed greenhouses representing tropical environments.
  • Charlestown Harbour – Used as a backdrop in Poldark, this remarkably preserved Grade II Listed Georgian harbour lined with tall ships is surrounded by beaches, pubs, ice cream parlours and a shipwreck museum.
  • Mevagissey – Travel 5 miles to this quintessential Cornish fishing port, where colourful houses and craft shops line the inner harbour walls, surrounded by sandy beaches and scenic coastal paths.
  • Lanhydrock House and Gardens – Just 30 minutes inland, this grand 17th century country house is surrounded by formal gardens, wooded walking trails and parkland alongside the River Fowey near Bodmin.
  • Carlyon Bay Beach – Found close to the gardens, this sweeping sandy Cornish beach has rock pools to explore when the tide goes out and cliff-top trails with scenic sea views.
  • Polgoon Vineyard – Take a vineyard tour before sampling some award-winning English wines at the family-run Polgoon Vineyard, which uses traditional methods to produce Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.
  • Pentewan Beach – Nearby Pentewan offers over a mile of soft golden sands and surf, with a nature reserve behind the dunes and a seasonal café. It holds Blue Flag status for cleanliness and facilities

Whether you’re a passionate plantsman looking to expand your knowledge, budding garden designer finding fresh inspiration or simply want somewhere tranquil to while away sunny hours, Pinetum Gardens is a must-see. Immerse in horticultural heaven just moments from Cornwall’s bustling north coast resorts when you visit this sheltered hillside haven – still one of the county’s best kept secrets!

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