Cornwall is famous for its beautiful gardens and many visitors to St Ives explore at least one during their holiday. But what if you don’t want an epic day out and just fancy somewhere green and fragrant to enjoy a pasty or let the children off the leash? St Ives and Carbis Bay have a lovely collection of small gardens dotted around, perfect for a mid-shop breather or a take-out coffee stop.
This is a lovely surprise of a small St Ives garden, hidden up a steep path behind Barclay’s. An enviably green and tidy lawn is ringed by subtropical planting and inviting benches. Maybe because it’s such a secret spot, it always has a real sense of calm. It’s a popular locals’ lunching spot, possibly because it seems to attract fewer gulls than most other seating places.
Right in the middle of St Ives, near the Church of St Ia and behind the War Memorial, is a tiny and tranquil patch of garden. It’s not obvious at first that Memorial Gardens exists; however once you know about it, it’ll soon become a regular mid-shop spot. Typically Cornish, there’s a lot of sub-tropical planting, with the bonus that you can sometimes hear the singing from the church. A lovely place to unwind.
This is a seating area in town made up from raised beds and benches – oh, and a Barbara Hepworth sculpture. This is arguably one of the best places to capture the classic St Ives harbour and town view, either on film, canvas, sketchpad or, er, smartphone… Near the railway and bus stations, it’s the perfect place for new arrivals to both get their bearings and be blown away by the views.
This magnificent hotel stands in 72 acres of grounds above St Ives. Luxuriantly planted by enthusiastic Victorians and lovingly cared for ever since, there’s a gorgeous mix of woodland and sub-tropical gardens, contrasting with Tregenna’s popular 18-hole golf course.
Chy-an-Gweal, Carbis Bay
This is a calm little oasis just off the road through Carbis Bay. It’s pretty and brightly-planted, with a variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. However, what really sets it apart is the views across to Godrevy Lighthouse. Grab a take-out from nearby Tesco Costa and relax in this in-the-know-only haven.
The Island (the dominant headland between the town and Porthmeor Beach) is not exactly a garden, but a big green space with benches and scamper space. If you’re looking for a nice grassy area to sit, picnic and let the kids run around, this is the best place in St Ives, with the added bonus of wonderful views in all directions.
There are several playgrounds in St Ives and area. Richmond Gardens in Carbis Bay, we are reliably informed by the under 10s, is a very good one. Well equipped and always clean, it’s fenced off from the rest of the park (kids in and dogs out), so parents can (sort of) relax at one of the picnic tables and appreciate the view. Richmond Gardens Playground is just a bit further down the road from Chy-an-Gweal. The rest of the garden is popular with dogs, balls, and scooters. There are further playgrounds in Ayr Field and Penbeagle in St Ives.