Garden View: Bonython Manor Gardens

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.


  1. beetleypete says:

    What a lovely place to visit. And an ‘honesty box’ tea room? That’s the first I have ever heard of.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have been to another garden with a similar setup in North Devon. A very relaxed affair 🙂

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    What a glorious garden to visit, Jude, and it looks as though you had it pretty much to yourself. Or was that just clever photography? The purple flowers are especially eye-catching.

    1. Heyjude says:

      There were about 6 other people in the garden at the time Jane, so easy to avoid them in the photos 🙂 I am guessing that it only gets busy on an Open Day or if they get a coach trip visiting.

  3. Tish Farrell says:

    What a very lovely garden. So many pleasing vistas, and so many wonderful plants that I haven’t got!

    1. Heyjude says:

      And me! I have a very long list and a very small garden…

  4. Wow! I knew you would be in your element just by your header. What a spectacular feast for the senses. The kaleidoscope of purples blew me away and your photos are a fitting collage to showcase such a magnificent Cornwall gem. I look forward to going back there with you in August Jude 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have decided that I want a purple border 😀

      1. I think you should have one 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          I am working on that right now! Already cleared the beds 🙂

        2. Lol. Good to hear 🙂

  5. pommepal says:

    A delightful and so English garden Jude, I loved the galleries of flowers and was surprised that the house front and back views were so different could almost be 2 totally different houses. I look forward to your next visit

    1. Heyjude says:

      Me too PP. I am looking forward to seeing the South African flowers in bloom.

  6. bushboy says:

    Thanks for taking me to Bonython manor gardens Jude. I hope you took your secateurs in case some plants needed a “trim” Oh that would be so tempting.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Sooo many times I have thought of that, but I just know I’d get caught!

  7. Colline says:

    What beautiful flowers in the garden Jude. I can imagine spending a lot of time there walking around and looking at such beauty. Do they allow people to picnic there?

    1. Heyjude says:

      No picnics Colline. I did notice that sign! But the cake is good 🙂

  8. Sue says:

    Oh, I would have loved this place in my fitter days…..but doubtless I could still enjoy a small part of it now! And your mention of gorse on Goonhilly Downs had me transported back four decades and more……

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is a fairly flat garden Sue. Just a slight slope towards the lakes. Is your balance severely compromised now?

      1. Sue says:

        Someŵhat…but the main thing is the variability from date to day, and the reduced distances that I can cover….but I do what I can..I’m not going to miss out. There’s always a way….

        1. Heyjude says:

          Good for you!

        2. Sue says:


  9. There are so many glorious photos in this post, Jude. Every time I read one of your garden posts I want to pack my bags and come to Cornwall and stay for as long as it takes to see them all!

    1. Heyjude says:

      And I, who lives in Cornwall, am doing a bad job of visiting them myself this year, despite the glorious weather!

  10. susurrus says:

    Beautiful – the garden and your pictures. I love the way you colour themed the flowers for the galleries. Funnily enough we were tempted by an honesty box tea room at a garden yesterday too, and managed to resist.

    1. Heyjude says:

      What can I say? It was a hot day and I’d been on the go since early on so a cold drink was most welcome. As for the cake… I needed the energy to continue walking around the lakes 😉

      1. susurrus says:

        If there had been ice cream, I’d have caved in right away!

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