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Trebah Gardens

trebah gardens

Escape to a Subtropical Paradise Valley at Trebah Gardens

Nestled at the head of the Helford River near Falmouth sprawls the magical Trebah Garden – Cornwall’s ultimate subtropical paradise retreat. Often noted as one of the UK’s finest botanical gardens, exploring the vivid colours and textures of 26 acres threading through a Cornish valley promises an unforgettable visit.

Whether meandering along tiny coastal paths to secluded beaches with views across the River Helford, learning the stories behind exotic plants from China, Chile and Australasia or simply relaxing within lush verdant vistas, bliss awaits at this National Trust haven.

Here’s everything you need to plan your visit

trebah gardens

Getting There

Trebah Gardens sits nestled within Cornwall’s unspoilt Lizard and Helford River region just south of Falmouth down the B3293 Falmouth to Helston road.

You’ll discover the grand Victorian entrance midway between popular coves Maenporth Beach and Swanpool Beach around 4 miles from bustling harbour town Falmouth itself. Some signposts provided but satellite navigation is best

Opening Times & Tickets

The garden is open every day from 9.30am. It closes at 4.30 in the winter and at dusk in the summer

Adult: £17.60 | Child: £8.80 |Under 5 Free

You can book online for convenience too.

Trebah Gardens History

Its evolution spans nearly 200 years, showcasing not just horticultural dedication but also changing attitudes towards gardens and their purpose.

In 1838, Charles Fox, a Quaker with a keen eye for beauty, acquired the estate. Fueled by his passion for botany and horticulture, he envisioned a pleasure garden, meticulously shaping the landscape and planting shelterbelts of Monterey Pine and Maritime Pine. He laid the foundation for what would become a verdant sanctuary.

view at trebah gardens

His daughter, Juliet, and her husband, Edmund Backhouse, inherited the estate in 1876. They carried the torch, further enriching the collection with exotic plants from around the world. Their vision led to the creation of pools, pathways, and secluded glades, transforming the space into a diverse and immersive paradise.

Trebah entered its golden age in 1907 with the arrival of Charles Hawkins and Alice Hext. This affluent couple poured their energy and resources into the garden, employing a large team of gardeners and expanding the plant collection further. They even introduced flamingos to the newly created Mallard Pond, adding a touch of whimsy.

Alice, a formidable personality and philanthropist, continued to nurture the garden even after her husband’s passing in 1917. The outbreak of World War II, however, marked a turning point. The estate was divided, and the focus shifted away from the garden’s lavish upkeep.

Yet, Trebah Garden’s story didn’t end there. The Hibbert family, recognizing its immense value, acquired the garden in 1989 and established the Trebah Garden Trust. This visionary move secured the garden’s future, allowing for restoration, revitalization, and public access.

Today, Trebah continues to evolve, its legacy preserved while embracing new possibilities. Visitors can embark on guided tours, explore hidden paths, and witness the breathtaking fusion of flora and fauna. Educational programs engage young minds, and events throughout the year showcase the enduring love for this verdant jewel.

bridge at trebah gardens

What do see and do at Trebah Gardens

From towering trees to hidden coves, here’s a glimpse of what awaits you amidst this verdant wonderland:

Botanical Bounties:

  • Exotic Extravaganza: Prepare to be mesmerized by a vibrant tapestry of plants from across the globe. Australian tree ferns reach skyward, their fronds whispering secrets of distant lands. Giant gunnera unfurl their elephantine leaves, while bamboo groves create verdant tunnels, transporting you to a mystical world.
  • Floral Fireworks: Spring ignites with the dazzling display of rhododendrons, magnolias, and camellias, their blooms painting the landscape in a kaleidoscope of colors. Summer sees hydrangeas transform into ethereal clouds of blue and white, while autumn cloaks the garden in fiery hues of maples and acacias. Even winter holds its charm, with champion trees standing tall and the Bamboozle showcasing its stark and striking beauty.
  • Sensory Symphony: As you wander through the winding paths, inhale the intoxicating fragrance of azaleas and lavender, let the gentle trickle of hidden streams soothe your soul, and feel the sun dappling through the canopy, creating a mesmerizing dance of light and shadow.
palm trees trebah

Nature’s Hidden Gems:

  • Alice’s Seat: Nestled amidst the foliage, discover Alice’s Seat, a charming haven dedicated to Alice Hext, a pivotal figure in shaping Trebah’s future. Rest here and soak in the serene view, imagining the stories she might have dreamt up surrounded by this natural beauty.
  • Mallard Pond & Bridge: The tranquil oasis of Mallard Pond reflects the sky in its glassy surface, inviting you to pause and admire the graceful dance of mallards and dragonflies. The rustic wooden bridge adds a touch of romantic charm, while the vibrant hydrangeas bordering the pond burst into breathtaking blooms during summer.
  • Secluded Beach: Embark on a hidden path and be rewarded with the discovery of Trebah’s private beach, nestled alongside the Helford River. Breathe in the fresh sea air, feel the sand between your toes, and enjoy the tranquility of this hidden gem. Perfect for leisurely picnics and glimpsing seals when tides allow.

Beyond the Flora:

  • Guided Tours: Delve deeper into the Trebah Gardens fascinating history and botanical wonders with insightful guided tours. Learn about the generations who shaped Trebah, the unique plant life within its borders, and the ongoing conservation efforts.
  • Family Fun: Children can unleash their imaginations in the dedicated play area, while the whole family can embark on exciting treasure hunts. Keep an eye out for seasonal events and workshops tailored for young explorers.
  • The Hibbert Centre: Take a break and indulge in culinary delights at the café, offering locally sourced fare with breathtaking views. Explore the plant center to find your own botanical treasures to take home, and browse the gift shop for unique souvenirs.
  • Trebah Kitchen – Soak up the laidback ambiance of the pretty boathouse style cafe terrace overlooking the Helford Estuary. The perfect spot for Cornish cream teas or light lunches after all that discovery!
waterfall at trebah

A Journey for All Senses:

Trebah Gardens offer an experience that goes beyond sightseeing. It’s a place to reconnect with nature, ignite your curiosity, and create lasting memories. Whether you’re a seasoned botanist seeking rare treasures or a family yearning for an adventure, Trebah welcomes you with open arms and promises a journey that will touch your heart and ignite your senses. So, pack your sense of wonder, lace up your walking shoes, and prepare to be swept away by the magic of Trebah Gardens.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there parking available? – Yes, there is ample free parking on-site.

Is the garden accessible for wheelchairs? Yes, the majority of the garden is accessible by wheelchair, with paved paths and ramps. Accessible toilets are also available.

Are dogs allowed? – Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted in the garden, with the exception of assistance dogs.

Can I bring a picnic? – Yes, picnics are welcome in designated areas within the garden.

What is the best time to visit? – Spring offers vibrant blooms, while summer boasts warm weather and longer opening hours. Autumn showcases stunning foliage, and winter provides a peaceful escape.

Are there events held at the garden?  – Yes, Trebah hosts various events throughout the year, from plant fairs and workshops to live music and special themed days.

Can you swim at Trebah Gardens? – Yes, You can swim in the beach at the bottom of the garden. Please note that there is no lifeguard cover on the beach.

trebah gardens

Nearby places to visit

When you are at Trebah Gardens, you shoudl think about going to some of these places too:

  • Truro Cathedral – The centerpiece of any visit to Truro, this impressive Gothic-style cathedral has awe-inspiring architecture and many decorative details to discover. Go on a guided tour to learn more.
  • Falmouth – Just a 10 minute drive from Trebah Gardens, explore the bustling port town of Falmouth with its Events Square markets, boat trips from the harbour and historic narrow streets lined with independent shops and restaurants.
  • National Maritime Museum – Located in Falmouth Docks, this museum celebrates Cornwall’s maritime heritage through hands-on exhibits about fishing, boat building, sailing and local seafaring traditions.
  • St Mawes Castle – Take the King Harry Ferry across the Fal River to explore this picturesque coastal village and historic artillery fortification offering stunning views across the estuary entrance from its gun ports.
  • Glendurgan Gardens – Also located near Falmouth down the Helford Passage, these National Trust gardens contain exotic plants from the Southern Hemisphere arranged beautifully within a coastal valley setting.
  • Trelissick House & Garden – Just across the River Fal lies this scenic woodland garden surrounding a Georgian mansion, with lovely estuary views and an orchard, gallery and plant shop on site.
  • Kynance Cove – Attractive beach away from the tourist eye.
  • Pendennis Castle – Overlooking Carrick Roads near Falmouth stands this impressive Tudor coastal fortification built by Henry VIII to defend the Falmouth estuary.
  • St Ives – A 30 minute drive away, enjoy the picturesque harbour, Blue Flag beaches, narrow shopping streets and Tate Gallery showcasing work by famous local artists in the seaside town of St Ives.
  • Barbara Hepworth Museum – Also in St Ives, this art museum contains a retrospective collection of modernist sculptures by Dame Barbara Hepworth inside her former home and studio.
  • Minack Theatre – Watch an open-air performance at this weathered stone theatre ingeniously carved into the rocky Cornish clifftops near Porthcurno between April and September.

Whether you’re looking for a serene spot to escape the crowds, want to get lost wandering picturesque trails through Cornish valleys, or simply appreciate exotic plants and colourful blooms, majestic Trebah Gardens is a must-visit. The variety of experiences across 26 riverside acres means families, couples and garden lovers alike will all find bliss in this verdant paradise near Falmouth.

gardens of cornwall

Cornish gardens ignite the senses. Coasts or valleys cradle vibrant blooms, the mild climate birthing the exotic. Antony’s grandeur, Glendurgan’s legacy, and Heligan’s restored Victorian charm beckon. Rare camellias bloom at Caerhays, while Lamorran’s jungle thrives. Hepworth’s sculptures and Tremenheere’s evolving landscape push boundaries. This book has them all!

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