Bonython Estate Gardens

Trees reflected in a lake - bonython gardens

The magnificent Gunnera lake is everything you would expect a lake to be, cool and elegantly stylish

Bonython Gardens with its 18th century walled gardens, tranquil lakes and dramatic sweeps of parkland is almost a hidden gem amongst the Great Gardens of Cornwall.

With its laid back approach, Bonython is definitely a must for garden visitors seeking to step off the “Tourist Trail” and move into another world of old fashioned hospitality in a deeply personal garden.

Our visit to Bonython Estate Gardens

We visited Bonython Gardens this August and I remembered the vibrant colour combinations in the walled gardens and the rich South African planting of Cannas and Grasses around one of the lakes. Our continental guests often ask which garden they can visit with herbaceous planting and from our previous visit in 2000 held fond memories so after a gap of eighteen years it was definitely time to refresh my memory for you!


Parking and approach to Bonython

Grand facade - Bonython Estate House

The handsome facade of Bonython House dates to 1780

We turned into the farm drive, just passed the house entrance, to park in a little field with two other cars and it felt rather like arriving rather early at a laid back local gymkhana. A little wooden hut stood empty displaying the advice the “Pay the gardener in the Walled garden” and so we set off around a grass field to woodland, (that I must remember to see the Blue bells in next spring)  that gave way to heroically tall blue Hydrangeas leading passed the handsome 1780 facade of the house.

As we circled the house, an immaculate croquet lawn came into view with a plump sausage dog trotting across it and finally the entrance to the walled gardens to the right.


The walled garden

Historic walled garden with herbacious planting - Bonython Estate Gardens

The gorgeous cobalt blue of the russian Sage caught my eye


The historic walled gardens date back to the 18th century and broad herbaceous borders flanking a topiary edged lawn, gorgeous pool and flamboyant Pool House give way to an artful potage that leads seamlessly to the open lawns embracing the first lake.

potage and cutting garden Bonython

The potager combines with a cutting garden at the lower end of the walled gardens

This August, the fabulous cobalt blues of Russian sage set in front of the Pool House caught my eye but harmonious, successive planting caries the interest though spring, well into autumn.


Silver Birch Trees

150 silver birch form a huge enclosure around a central mound and sculpture - Bonython Gardens

150 Silver birch trees enclose a central circle and Sculpture


Emerging from the walled gardens onto the open lawns above the lake, the dramatic circle of silver Birch trees to our left caught my eye and at the same time the sun broke through the sullen clouds. Alas my photographic skills were not equal to the task (and camera decide its batteries were flat) but I could image the exquisite composition that would be possible in the Golden Hour with the light shimmering off of the trunks that  encircle a gently sculpture topped mound.

Garden journey without a map but lots of arrows

garden seat under trees overlooking lake

We seemed to be travelling in the wrong direction for the arrows but so much to explore


We set off again towards the lake and soon found ourselves treading a well signposted route…….. except all of the arrows were pointing in the opposite direct. Ah well as I remarked to Charles “It is a pity we don’t have a map” do you know he replied “There was one in the gatehouse it cost 8/- (or 40p in current money) I don’t know where Charles’s been since decimalisation but suffice to say I put 40p in the saucer on the way out for a map to bring home with me and study at leisure! If we’d have had a map of course, we wouldn’t have missed “The living Yew Chapel” and “The Thyme and Alpine walk” – ah well an excuse to go back again one day soon.


The trio of lakes at Bonython Gardens

Trees reflected in a lake - bonython gardens

The magnificent Gunnera lake is everything you would expect a lake to be, cool and elegantly stylish


The magnificent Gunnera lake is everything you would expect a lake to be – cool and elegantly stylish.

Lake set in parkland with fruit trees

Vintage West country April on the lawns between the lake and  the walled garden


We circled the reflective waters, following our back to front arrows until were reached the dramatic banks of Lake Sue. Lake Sue is at its best now planted with a flamboyant mix of Cannas, grasses Echinacea and Persicarias that glow in August and enjoy a long season lasting well into September – it was just as I hoped that it would be.

Late summer planting - grasses Cannas - Lake Sue

Flamboyant contemporary planting on the shores of Lake Sue


The shimmering colours of South Africa reflected in the waters from our vantage on the far bank, following our journey through the gardens, until we slipped into woodland once more, to emerge by the haunting beauty of the Quarry Lake.

The haunting beauty of the quarry lake

The haunting beauty of the quarry lake

This quarry was said to have provided the stone for Bochym manor, the one time home of the artist and master of the Cury Foxhounds, Richard “Seal” Wetherby, who painted at the end of the Penzance and Newlyn School period. It has an air of a past half remember caught in time with studied dereliction and the haunting beauty was possibly my favourite spot in the garden

A journey through a garden

Garden path passed Tree Ferns - Bonython Estate Garden

Beautifully maintained paths dissect the garden at Bonython – at last we were going the right way!


At each point of our Bonython Garden adventure, we lingered and sat and yes I cursed the camera which would only now work without the viewfinder but it did mange a few snaps between its deathly pauses and wheezes for the blog today!

Finally we wandered back across the lawns to the pretty thatched tea house (help yourself to tea and leave money in the saucer) and I did ask the only other people we saw that day if they’d seen the gardener to pay but no, they hadn’t either.  So we returned through the walled gardens, where the sun taunted me to take photos and by letting the battery rest the camera managed just one shot of the vibrant Russian Sage …..And none at the entire, broad herbaceous border!

brushing through a flower lined path

The last snap as we walked back through the walled gardens

In the gatehouse I found a sign saying “put money in the box” so carefully folded my £16* offering for two tickets, to fit neatly through the slot, feeling very virtuous too of course.

*Garden entry £8 per person 2018

The rustle of the trees and reflections on the waters


path through potager - Bonython gardens

The entrance to the Potager

From the soft rustle of the trees, to the reflective lake, I can recommend Bonython Garden for a quiet tranquil garden, away from the bustle of the tourist spots that is still beautiful as summer fades, with a joy that will last well into the autumn.

To combine this glorious Cornish Garden with an unspoilt Fishing cove why not travel on to the nearby village of Cadgwith



Other Autumn Gardens to visit in Cornwall


Last autumn we renewed our acquaintance with Trebah Garden near the Helford wandering the length of the terrace rock garden leading to castle - St Michael's Mount Garden valley to the secluded beach and explored the arboretum at Trewidden near Penzance. Trengwainton Gardens agian near Penzance has far reaching scop of interest and of course one of my favorites has to be Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens agian near Penzance overlooking St Michael’s Mount with its glorious gardens clinging to the rocky storm lashed cliffs.



About Christine Taylor

Christine has written a weekly blog about life at Ednovean Farm and interesting places to visit in West Cornwall for over ten years now, concentrating on those off the beaten track places that only the locals find. Charles and Christine Taylor have hosted Luxury Bed and Breakfast at Ednovean Farm Nr Penzance in West Cornwall since 1991 and live there with three cats and five horses, including a Spanish Stallion called Danni. Ednovean Farm has been awarded AA five star gold for Bed and breakfast and is included in The Michelin Guide and The Alastair Sawday Guide . The Farmhouse and gardens has been featured in BBC Homes and Antiques, Homes and Gardens. Period Living and 25 Beautiful Homes as well as being used as a film and photo shoot location.

Comments are closed.