Sunday, December 28, 2014


On a rather cold and dreary day I am looking back to sunnier times and a visit to England this past May.

We couldn't have been luckier as we arrived in Marazion, Cornwall, at 1:30pm. The sign in the car park said low tide 2:30pm. That is when the causeway to St Michael's Mount would be revealed. When I told the attendant we would come back after lunch he told us we could park free on the left side if we had lunch at the Godolphin Arms. There has been a pub on this spot for over 200 years but a recent renovations revealed wall to wall glass windows in their upper dining room with a perfect view of the Mount. We could watch as we ate our lunch and as the tide receded.

Some hardy souls couldn't wait to cross. We just bided our time until the water had fully receded.

You might have thought you were in France from the large groups of French speaking children just returning across the causeway from their visit.( They must have gone over earlier by boat) St Michael's Mount has strong associations with Mont Saint Michel in France. The church on the mount was built after the Norman invasion and was the site of a Benedictine Monastery. Owned by the St Aubyn family thirty people make the mount their home.
This grouping of sub tropical plants was just a taste of what was to come. We decided to make the most of the warm, early afternoon sun and visit the gardens before going into the castle.

The area benefits by being on the Eastern edge of the Gulf Stream. Winter temperatures rarely drop below freezing and are more like those of the coastal Mediterranean towns of Benidorm and Nice. In summer, however the waters keep the island cooler. We began the climb towards the rock terraces which face the ocean.

Ragged robin was everywhere. A flower I remember as a child.

Banks of Delospermia. I think this is the one with the tiny flowers which I have great difficulty growing.

The castle is built into the granite cliff and the rock gardens, created by the St Aubyon family, switchback across the lower reaches of the cliffs.

A stunning combination of grasses and aeoniums.

May and June are the best times to view the flowers and here we were in mid May. We were surprised by how few people joined us on the sometimes steep and narrow climb.

We made our way back and up the well worn steps towards the castle entrance.

Looking back towards the causeway and village of Marazion.

In what was once the refectory is a plaster frieze of hunting scenes depicting the Ballad Of Chevy Chase.

The 15C Lantern Cross, the four sides depicting, the cruxifiction, the Virgin child, a king, possibly Edward the confessor, and a priest of monk. The pinnacles were added at a later date (1827)

Splendid views from the battlements and tiny windows. That was quite a climb.

St Michaels' Mount is cared for by the National Trust and visiting times can be seen on their website.
Our Royal Oak Foundation membership allowed us to visit free of charge.


  1. What a great garden--the setting is fantastic.
    And I certainly enjoyed all the colorful flowers. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Beautiful! I would have been tempted to cross early too if I'd known how much there was to explore.

  3. Thanks for the post on this beautiful castle and gardens! It was fun to see plants that I'd never seen before and dream of going there myself some day. Since it's still dark and freezing outside I think I'll look at your past post and dream some more!

  4. Simply stunning and your photos just bring it to life! The delospermia is to die for. It's on my list of things to try.

  5. Gorgeous, inspiring photos. Thank you! Never made it to Cornwall part of England but it is on the list for my next life. Delospermia is so charming and I have tried to grow it here in Tx Hill Country, too. I thought our limestone conditions would be perfect, but have decided it's our extreme heat that foils my attempts. Nevertheless, when I can find it, I always snap it up to enjoy as long as it lasts.

  6. A "vertical garden," certainly planted well before they became the "in" thing! I was surprised (and inspired) to see so many plants on the cliff face that also grow in my own garden and area - that's uncommon when I view gardens in the UK. The views are stupendous. Thanks for sharing your visit!

  7. Oh so beautiful! I love how there's a hidden road that only surfaces in low tide. All the flowers blooming along the rocks are beautiful. It is amazing what can still grow on what is basically the side of a cliff. What a great place to visit!

  8. Absolutely gorgeous scenery as a canvas and then they've gone and painted it so beautifully with those succulents and other bloomers. Honestly, if I didn't know where it was you were writing about I don't think I'd have guessed England at all. That temperate microclimate took all my suppositions about living close to the ocean in that part of the world and turned them on their heads, frankly. And as much as I admire succulents, I think the most charming shot was of the ragged robins along with your comment of recalling them from your own childhood. It is those early associations that get the gardener clock ticking, don't you think?

    Happiest New Years to you and all of yours Rock Rose!

  9. What a fabulous place! I has everything I love: water, history, architecture, and plants. Mont Saint-Michel fascinated me as a child, and now I know it has an English counterpart.

  10. It's even called St Michael's Mount? I went to Mt. St Michel as a kid, but never Cornwall - and I have been to Benidorm.

    Cornwall looks my speed, and the gardens in Cornwall are amazing. I had no idea the climate was that way there, but your explanation makes sense. Nice agave / succulent groupings on the rocky area, and those clear views!

    My guess on that iceplant is Drosanthemum floribundum - common, heavy spring bloomer in southern California...I stuffed a flat of it into my suit bag ages ago, and it grew so fast and bloomed crazily in Abq until it got hot mid-May, then it stopped bloom, then declined...even had it in 1/2 day sun, just enough irrigation.

    Thanks for the excellent tour.

  11. Talk about happy plants! This really shows what plants do when they are in the right place.