Garden Portrait: A Rocky Place

Porthcurno Beach

The Minack Theatre was planned, built and financed by one extraordinary woman, Rowena Cade. The first performance took place in 1932, but things have vastly improved since those days, The theatre is built into the cliffside with steep steps and terracing. I’d love to see a performance there, but what took me to the Minack Theatre on the firstΒ Monday in June was the garden. Situated on the cliffs just south of one of Cornwall’s most loved beaches, Portcurno, the site also offers good views along the coastline.

Sempervivum flowering
Sempervivum flowering

While the cliff gardens you see today were planted since 1998 the actual planting reflects the choice Rowena made back in the ’20s and ’30s. The plants reflect the nature of the site, salt laden winds and many inches of rain in the winter followed by dry hot summers. The site is sheltered from the worst of the winds and enables the planting of Silver trees and Strelitzia from South Africa; Aeoniums from the Canaries; Geraniums from Madeira; Agaves from Mexico and Poppies from California.


On the day of my visit it was very stormy, so much so I was concentrating mostly on keeping upright and not being blown over the edge and when the rain arrived I had to give up, but I hope you will enjoy seeing something of this incredible site.

And this plant below I believe is the Poor Knight’s Lily that I saw after flowering, in Auckland, New Zealand before Christmas. How wonderful to see it in flower!



41 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautiful πŸ™‚

  2. Love the effects, and that fantastic first aerial view. I’m fearful that you’ll use Cornwall up before you move there! What a treasure trove you’ve offered.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Well it has taken me numerous visits to actually get here and that was only because we went to look at a house in the vicinity! It was a terribly windy and then wet day. I’d like to return when I’m not fearful for my life πŸ™‚

  3. Sue says:

    Ah, this looks interesting! I last saw the Minack theatre in the early ’80s

    1. restlessjo says:

      When you were nimble πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ (cheeky!)

      1. Sue says:

        Oh, too right! More than you think actually – I wandered off the main path below the theatre, and ended up scrambling up a nearly vertical bit of cliff, with a socking great drop and the sea crashing down below…nimble was certainly the order of the day!

        1. Heyjude says:

          I know there is a path down to Porthcurno beach which looks treacherous! Those rocks are not a place to find yourself on.

        2. Sue says:

          Well, I did!

        3. Heyjude says:

          I sometimes wonder if the OH will have to call in the air rescue helicopter for me one of these days!

        4. Sue says:

          Oh, don’t do that! And as for me, I am way more sensible these days. A fracture is the last thing I want….

        5. Heyjude says:

          I believe I have realised my limitations during this last visit to Cornwall. Much as I would love to, I will not be walking the entire south coast path!

        6. Sue says:

          Crikey, that would be an undertaking….

  4. Sammy D. says:

    What a unique setting for theater productions! I can’t imagine how thrilling it must be to have that backdrop for a performance. Your photo capturing the rocky stairway and seating is sprctacular, Jude. And I bet your heart raced seeing a New Zealand bloom and remembering your most recent visit to see loved ones (unless your heart was already racing from steep climb and bracing weather!!)

    1. Heyjude says:

      The heart was certainly racing Sammy! Those terraces are very steep and it was VERY windy! I had to hang on to the camera to stop it shaking. I would like to see a production there though on a more clement day πŸ™‚

      1. Sammy D. says:

        There are times when a temporary ‘off’ button would be handy for nature photographers!

  5. Sue Slaght says:

    Fabulous perspective in that lead shot and the path image Jude. Really I run out of adjectives for your images. Beautiful. Period.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thank you Sue. You’d like it. It is a bit like abseiling down the terraces πŸ˜‰

      1. Sue Slaght says:

        You’ll be ziplining and doing via ferrata next. πŸ™‚

        1. Heyjude says:

          You never know!
          Oh, OK, you do…

  6. nowathome says:

    The Sempervivum’s are gorgeous! Beautiful!!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have never seen so many in flower as there are in Cornwall.

  7. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Oh wow, I’m really jealous, even my little grandchildren have been there but I haven’t!
    Are you sure about the crimson flags? is it a common name for something else?

    1. Heyjude says:

      I think that is what they are Gilly, but I’m not 100% – Schizostylis coccinea or Kaffir Lily – they are all over the place in Cornwall and very similar to a gladioli flower.

    2. Heyjude says:

      You had me searching again for this one. I wasn’t entirely sure as I thought they looked very much like a gladioli only different. I think I may have found what they are: Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus
      see if you agree πŸ™‚

      1. Lucid Gypsy says:

        Yes I was fairly certain, but didn’t want to say because photos can be deceiving. I remember them because I really love the colour!

        1. Heyjude says:

          It is difficult identifying flowers online. As you mention the colours can be hard to find and many are wrongly named. I knew this looked similar to a gladioli but wasn’t one of the types I know. Glad you agree with my new ID πŸ˜€

    3. Heyjude says:

      And BTW never be afraid of telling me I might be wrong with an ID. I’m not always certain and welcome any suggestions if you or anyone else thinks I have incorrectly named a plant. πŸ™‚

  8. restlessjo says:

    You’ve been playing so artfully again! It works beautifully with flowers, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚
    That lead in shot is a stunner, especially as you were all a-wobble with wind. I saw those yellow flower spikes on the Sempervirums one time in the Algarve, and I’ve only ever seen Echiums once too. (somewhere in Yorkshire) Nothing like a good garden to make me smile. πŸ™‚

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have found that the poster edge effect often brings out the sharpness of a flower – detailing the petals and stamens – especially if the shot is not too great as in a lot of these. Far too windy for flower photography, but since I was there I had to have a go. Glad it made you smile Jo, you’d probably have laughed your head off if you could have seen me struggling to keep upright πŸ˜€

  9. pommepal says:

    I loved what you have done with those first 2 shots Jude they would look lovely in a frame. Doesn’t it drive you mad when the wind is blowing and there is the most beautiful flowers to take photos of. The stage setting is spectacular and to see a performance there would be something to cherish.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Well you get a second visit free PP, so I shall definitely be returning. When the wind is less fearsome! I wouldn’t mind watching a performance there.

      1. pommepal says:

        and I will look forward to following you around again

  10. Anabel Marsh says:

    Another of the places we loved on our visit last year. We were luckier than you with the weather and after visiting the theatre took the path down to the bay and back up the other side to the next headland. Beautiful coastline.

    1. Heyjude says:

      That is some steep path Anabel – you must be a lot more steady on the pins than I am!

      1. Anabel Marsh says:

        Tough going on the way back up!

  11. pommepal says:

    Did you ever get back here Jude?

    1. Heyjude says:

      Not yet PP! Maybe we’ll try and see a play there.

      1. pommepal says:

        It would be a great venue as long as the weather cooperated

        1. Heyjude says:

          Well that can of course be an issue, also David and his vertigo. Not sure it would be a pleasure for him.

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