I had driven past Pinetum Gardens hundreds of times (as it sits alongside the main A390 road in St Austell), but I’d never ventured in before my visit this week with Jasmine. A pleasant surprise awaited me there.

Pinetum Gardens is one of Cornwall's dog friendly gardensThe 30 acre site comprises of several gardens within one and has interest all year round, especially for keen gardeners, as there are over 6000 labelled plants, many of which are unusual. It was started in 1976 by Ray and Shirley Clemo who made it their life’s work, travelling the world to collect seeds and plants for this remarkable garden. It is now owned by Chang Li who has introduced elements of Eastern influence and a desire to share the gardens with the community.

Pinetum Gardens offers year-round interest and colourWe started in the Japanese garden with its tea pavilion, then ventured across the field down to the lake.

The lake at Pinetum Gardens adds to the tranquil settingIt was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed crunching through the rustling autumn leaves.

Pinetum Gardens is ideal for an autumn adventure with a toddlerNext was the Winter Garden, the most recent and just coming into its own. The colours and plant variety interspersed with seating and sculpture made it an ideal spot for a snack!

On then to the Pinetum, the best I had ever seen, consisting of 80 different conifers in four acres, planted in 1993. The spacing and design in the shape of an amphitheatre with the largest trees on the perimeter really enhances the sculptural form of the variety of pine trees.

Pinetum Gardens has some impressive conifersWe then popped into the Garden Kitchen for lunch, which offered a good selection of home cooked food, sandwiches and cakes. It had clean toilets (important when out with a toddler) and was bustling with locals, which is always a good sign! We sat outside in the courtyard and were visited by friendly ducks, also enjoying the sunshine. I was captivated by a pair of giant granite mill wheels forming a sculpture. I was surprised to find they had come from London Dockland, and in a former life, they’d been spice grinders for the exotic and expensive spices brought there from all over the world.

Pinetum Gardens' friendly ducks like to greet visitorsDuring the afternoon we wandered around the Sunken Garden, Cottage Garden, Water Garden and more, until Jasmine developed tired legs and needed a carry!

Pinetum Gardens is an ideal choice for a family friendly day out in CornwallWe had a lovely day out, and with a Local’s Pass of only £16 a year, we will certainly be back to make the most of its ever-changing landscape through the seasons. There are children’s trails available, charming Soul Bird poetry boxes and interesting sculptures. Jasmine particularly liked the Giant Snail and the woven cane child size bird’s nest she could sit in.

Pinetum Gardens has some appealing sculpturesPeople with mobility problems can use an electric buggy to get around the level paths and dogs are made very welcome. Chang Li is friendly and hospitable – he seemed to make a point of talking to each and every guest when I was there, offering friendly, helpful advice. Aim to spend a morning or afternoon here on a family visit – but if you are a plantsman, maybe a week?

We will certainly be making regular visits, even if it’s just to enjoy a walk in a beautiful space, so close to home.

There are lots of special spaces to discover at Pinetum GardensMore information

  • Open daily from 10am – 6pm
  • Admission currently £10 for adults, £9 for seniors and £5 for children over 11 (free entry for under 11s)
  • Dogs on leads very welcome
  • Wheelchair/buggy access on the pathways throughout nearly all of the gardens
  • Three easy-to-use mobility scooters available to hire
  • Approximately 12 minutes’ drive from Bosinver via the A390. Postcode for SatNavs: PL25 3RQ