Garden Portrait: St Michael’s Mount

I have traversed to St Michael’s Mount several times over the years and even climbed up to the castle itself a couple of times, but I have never been to the garden as it is only open for a short time from the end of April until September. But this year I was there on the first open day of the season at low tide so that I could walk over the causeway connecting the island to the mainland at Marazion.


View back towards Marazion

It is the most remarkable garden exposed to gales and salty winds, but the Gulf Stream keeps the frosts away and the granite rock acts as a giant radiator – absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night creating a micro climate in which all sorts of  plants flourish from Mexico, Canary Islands, New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa.

The Laundry Lawn

The gardens are on the rocky slopes and are not easily accessible with the steep and narrow paths, steps and terraces and require constant maintenance and conservation to keep them in good condition. As you enter the garden on the east side  you follow an avenue of Cordyline australis with views over Mount’s Bay towards the Lizard. The Laundry Lawn is a place for relaxing, playing and picnicking. The steep bank to your right (see header photo) is part of the defences during the English Civil War and on your left is a Pill Box from the second world war. And as you reach this point, you see ahead of you the dramatic East Terrace, rearing up above your head to the east wing of the castle.

Now comes the difficult part. To reach the upper slopes you have to scramble up the steep paths where aloes and agaves rear out of the bedrock and exotic succulents cling to every crevice imaginable. Some paths have steep drops, some have handrails, others do not. Aloes flourish and on the top you reach The Tortoise Lawn where you find a Victorian well. Another pathway takes you into the Walled Gardens. Not only do you need good footwear, but also a head for heights as below you is the dizzying drop to the sea and above you rises the sheer sides of the castle.

Lower terrace of the walled gardens

A profusion of colour greets you as you move into the West Terraces. South African Osteospermum spread over the granite walls. I am taken aback as I only know these as late spring and summer flowers and it is still only April. Geraniums, pelargoniums, Leucondendrum argenteum and Aeonium rise up amongst Agave and Aloes.

Walls, railings and the sea

The planting on such steep slopes is overwhelming. I am lost for words as I look around me, not knowing which pathway to take. I have never seen a garden like this and I am stunned to think what I have been missing all these years.

Sheer profusion of flowers

And all the while you are aware of the great expanse of the bay, the endless sky and the incredible clear light and all the hard work that must go into creating and maintaining such a wondrous garden. It is magical.

View towards Newlyn, Mousehole and the Minack Theatre

A separate post will appear with close-ups of some of the succulents in this garden. It was just too difficult to decide which of my many photos to leave out!

And this is a birthday post for the OH who unfortunately was unable to access much of this garden due to the nature of the terrain and his vertigo. But he was very happy to test a bench for me and look out over the bay towards the Lizard peninsula whilst I meandered. (Between you and me I think he was grateful to have a rest )

Contemplating and bench testing in the former gun emplacement area


29 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: St Michael’s Mount

  1. OH has the best of both worlds, he gets to sit and enjoy the view and he can see your photos too. What a glorious garden it is, I’m looking forward to your close ups 🙂

  2. Jude!!!!!!!! How many more times will I say THIS is the most enchanting place you’ve taken me. I’d be oohing and ahhing over those beautiful, precarious steps and pathways before I even got to the succulents and palm trees and cacti. Is there any more luscious word in the English language than ‘succulent’?

    This place reminds me of our day on Santorini – different, of course, but both as close to Heaven as we can feel on Earth. Thank you for your succulent beauties💖

    • Enchanting is the word that I wish I had thought of. Hoping to have a return visit to see what else is flowering this month, but I have more succulents for you shortly 🙂

  3. An absolutely wonderful garden, and beautiful words and photos to pay it tribute. I’d happily indulge in a scramble through such spectacular terrain. Thank you for revealing its delights.

    • I’d hoped for a return visit today but the weather was appalling! Totally enveloped in cloud. But maybe Thursday will work out. I did get some gems yesterday before the rain came down 🙂

  4. Oh, my gardener’s heart is going pitter-patter. Always partial to sloped gardens with rockeries, this is just….the best. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a better garden of this type anywhere. Thank you, Jude!! And look forward to more.

    • Me neither – until I went to the Minack Theatre yesterday and encountered more of these beauties on a cliff-face! It was rather windy though so another visit is required when I can concentrate on the flowers and not keeping myself upright!

  5. Absolutely fabulous Jude. The light is crystal clear and the colours just sing. This is an amazing garden and I’m looking forward to seeing more.

  6. Gorgeous! At the right time of the year. We walked over on the causeway after we left you. It was pure magic, but the garden and the house was obviously closed in January. Very happy to see how it looks in spring, Jude.

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