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 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: A Rocky Place

    • 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™‚

  1. 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!!)

    • 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™‚

  2. 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?

  3. 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™‚

    • 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˜€

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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