Friday, June 08, 2012

Makeover a Mountain

St. Michael's Mount seen from Marazion
Whilst in Cornwall a month ago we were told by several people, "You must visit the garden of St. Michael's Mount, it's had a makeover!". Fortunately it was on our itinerary to visit anyway, right at the end of our stay there and hearing comments about the place made us even more excited in seeing the changes.

And it didn't disappoint, lots of changes indeed since we last visited a couple of years ago. The plantings are obviously very new and you can see that so many old plants have been cleared out to make way for the new layout and plantings. Despite the newness I think it looks great and the removal of some of the old specimens has just enhanced the fantastic feel of the garden rather that detract from it.
Something strange on the beach...
It was high tide when we visited so had to take the boat to the island!
A historical mural...
Into the garden, towards the castle...
Having been visiting the garden several times before we easily noticed the changes that were made. Gone are some of the old yet tatty looking trees (a risk considering these trees provide shelter in such an exposed spot), shrubs, and succulents; making way for new plants, layout, and exposure of some of the stone face that's enhanced the character of the historic castle up above the mountain (well more like a large hill really).

Whoever the lady is, her jacket is a great contrast with the bluebells...
View of Marazion from the island...
One of the few remaining pillboxes used during the Second World War
View from the pillbox...
And there it is, the castle on top overlooking the garden...
Most of our stay in Cornwall we were lucky to have sunny and dry weather. But on the day we visited it was grey and misty but fortunately it didn't rain. I quite like it like that though as it just enhanced the experience as the place is very atmospheric.

The castle on the property is still the residence of the St. Aubyn family but is largely managed by the National Trust. They have commissioned American landscape designer Michael Harvey to re-design the garden and it's layout, which I think effectively has revitalised it. Work is still ongoing but so far so good, and definitely looks promising!

Proud and resilient, Cordyline australis seemingly relishing the exposure...
Scilla peruviana
Aeonium hybrid
One of the newly replanted succulent beds. Love the rockface!

Fantastic stone terracing!

The Walled Garden
Eryngium agavifolium

Pachystegia insignis
Aeonium 'Sunburst' bed, with the odd one Aeonium 'Lemon and Lime'
Cussonia spicata
Many of the new plants that went in were sourced from local nurseries and some of the nurserymen were proud that they have plants there that came from them. I certainly recognised loads of them!

View from 'The Well'
A lone gladioli!
Anigozanthos flavidus
Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset'
A red bed!

Vertical gardening...

Blooming Puyas on the horizon...
A well tended garden...
Aeonium 'Schwarzkopf'
Lovely! Aloe polyphylla

Newly planted Lancewoods - Pseudopanax crassifolius
And of course, the pre requisite plant sales section...

No doubt we will be back again in the following years to come. It'll be interesting to see how this newly redesigned garden develops in time!

Mark :-)


  1. Mark, what a lovely post about St. Michael's Mount Garden! I so enjoyed looking at your pictures. I haven't seen the garden before the make-over, but only can say it looks stunning right now. Of course, the pretty castle and all the natural stones enhance it quite a bit, but it is so well planted. I think you summed it up quite well: it is a majestic garden! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Really cool plantings indeed! Thanks for the tour.

  3. Chistina and CG, glad you enjoyed the tour :)

  4. mmmm lots of nice things! making me think I need some Aeoniums...

  5. It's beautiful ! Are these all hardy there?

  6. Wow! I mean really what else can you say but that. It's spectacular in photos so I can only imagine the awe in person. Thanks for the tour.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

  7. Hi Loree, Cornwall in general has a milder climate than most of the UK due to the warming benefits of the Gulf Stream. St Michaels Mount further benefits from being surrounded by the sea. As such they havebeen able to grow a number of succulents for many years so most of these should be fine. Some of the new plants seem a little more experimental so we shall have to see how they perform.

    Every so often Cornwall does get a harsher winter which would kill off some of the more tender succulents, however these are reasonably infrequent so the gardens should get many years between such events.

  8. Hi Cher, thanks, glad you enjoyed it, the setting is just wonderful. The castle itself is open to the public, although we didnt visit that this trip.

  9. So atmospheric and great pictures of the plants, something special about the lady in red.

  10. The garden is looking good, went about four years ago and didn't know it was having a makeover. It was fab then so must be superduper now. Thanks for the pics.

  11. Wow, what a fantastic place. It gives 'rock garden' a whole new meaning! I love the photo of the green path with the man tending the garden, as it gives me a sense of what an overview of the garden looks like. Wonderful!

  12. What an incredible tour, so many incredible agave! Also a couple introductions to some new strange plants. Beautiful photos!

  13. Alistair,glad you enjoyed the photos, and yes the lady in red looks great with the blue flowers.

    Martin, its always been a good looking garden, we have been several times. Everying at the moment has that newly planted look so it will take time to fill out, I would imagine next summer will look amazing

    Debs, it sure does, many of the planting beds are only possible by creating small terraced areas, and everything would have to be carried up the steep slopes.

    Nat, glad you enjoyed the tour, and pleased to introduce some new plants to you!

  14. It's a fabulous garden. I haven't been for a few years so I've been fascinated to see the changes. Time to pop down again, methinks.

  15. John, yes if you get chance do pop down and have another look. I'd imagine that it will be next summer before it all really fills out again, but its still worth visiting now.

  16. This is one place I've actually been to, and it looks much different. I remember large old trees and geraniums. Thanks for the tour, interesting seeing the changes.


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