Bonython is a 20 acre garden I have yearned to visit since moving to Cornwall. Typical of the usual Cornish spring plantings of Camellias, Azaleas and Rhododendrons and Magnolias it then explodes into colour during the summer with hot South African planting reminiscent of the owner’s home country. It is a little out-of-the-way situated on the Lizard peninsula near Helston and hidden down a narrow lane so a perfect place to visit if you don’t want crowds of people and coaches.
“I have put so much of myself into the garden, and it has given me so much joy, that I want to share it with others” – Sue Nathan
The front of the house which you pass from the car park to the garden entrance has a typical Georgian facade. However once you round the bend the house is more country farmhouse in style. The entrance to the gardens is opposite the house and leads to a colour-themed 18th century walled garden with the long border planted in purples, blues and mauves. But as you step through the doors the first thing you see is a lovely curved stone bench opposite.
What a wonderful flower-filled border! With purples of all shades and hues. It took me quite a while to move through this section of the garden and to be honest this part alone is worth the visit. Allium, roses, irises, Thalictrum, Polemonium, lupins, clematis, heucheras, foxgloves, Delphinium and Nepeta. And probably many more that I missed or can’t name.
A gap in the wall leads into the Potager. No, not through that doorway, but right, through the hedge next to the thatched building that acts as a propagating house. In my dreams!
This is a riot of colour with vegetables and flowers planted in raised beds and containers with fruit trees and roses trained along the walls. It is so hot inside this area that I quickly moved on to the ‘tea house’ beyond, desperate for a sit down and a cold drink. I returned on my way back to have a look at the plants for sale, but managed to avoid temptation.
Pass through a lovely curved gate onto the lawn where the tea room is located in a thatched hut overlooking the lake, with an honesty box. You can make yourself a cup of tea or coffee or grab a cold drink and help yourself to a slice of cake. Sit outside under the shade of the mature trees and admire the view of the lake and listen to the birdsong around you.
Now you are suitably refreshed it is time to have a walk around the three small lakes, each one different to the other. The first one is ‘Tranquility’ and has its own island with trees, shrubs and sky reflected in its waters. It is very peaceful. I loved the water lilies and the Dogwood tree in flower.
This area is probably best in late spring when the magnolias are in flower and daffodils undercarpet the silver birch trees. The second lake is found by following a stream cascade which flows from one lake to the other. Bordered by lovely bog plants.
This lake is known as ‘Vibrant’ due to the hot colours of the planting. The banks of this lake are ideal to plant and grow a host of South African plants. Foxgloves and Geum, Phlomis russeliana, (Turkish sage), Oriental poppies and purple dwarf lupins are in flower in early June.
A cool walk in the shade takes you to the third and final lake ‘Mysterious’ a ghostly, quarry lake with its creeper clad cliffs, fernery and surrounding bamboos. Rhododendrons and Azaleas can be found here too.
It is very shady here and cool. New Zealand Tree Ferns and South African Restios bring a touch of the southern hemisphere into the planting, and Bamboos do well here. I focus on textures of plants rather than colour.
Back towards the house is the circular silver birch wood where over 150 trees have been planted. The gardens have been planted with a lot of thought and there is plenty of variety. One to visit in all seasons and I will be back for the Open Garden on August 15 to discover new plants.
The name Bonython is thought to be derived from the Cornish bos and ython meaning ’place of gorse’. Gorse is still prolific, especially on nearby Goonhilly Downs.
Note: several Rosamund Pilcher novels were filmed here. I know that she is very popular in Germany.
- Street: Cury Cross Lanes
- Postcode: TR12 7BA
- City: Helston
- County: Cornwall
- Website: Bonython
If you like a walk, long or short, then please visit Jo for her regular strolls in the UK and the Algarve and maybe you would like to join in too. She’s very welcoming.