Country houses and gardens in Cornwall
Some of Cornwall’s best gardens and historic houses are within an hour’s drive of Looe. The world famous Eden Project, with its space age biomes, is just 25 minutes by car from Polraen. More traditional gardens near Looe include the National Trust’s ‘jewel in the crown’ Lanhydrock, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cotehele, Antony and Mt Edgcumbe.
If you love horticulture and gardening, spring is a perfect time to visit Cornwall on a short break as flowers bloom much earlier due to the mild climate. Many historic houses open specially to show unique collections of camelias, magnolias, rhododendrons, and azaleas. See our blog for more details on our pick of the Best Gardens to Visit Near Looe.
A brief history of Cornish Gardens
When you visit any of the large historic houses and gardens in Cornwall, you’ll discover that these vast estates built their botanic collection of exotic flowers and plants from fortunes made from tin mining. From 1740 to 1870, Cornwall led the world in mineral ore extraction. The tin barons, bankers and wealthy investors spent their money on landscaping their Cornish country estates, planting the latest exotic species brought back by explorers from the Far East and China. To have the latest camelia became a mark of social prowess in a ‘keep up with the Jones’ competition.
The other key factor shaping the character of Cornwall’s historic houses and gardens is the mild temperate climate. On the south coast, the warmth of the Gulf Stream creates ideal conditions for a microclimate where even tropical plants thrive, and centuries-old rhododendrons have grown to incredible heights.