The Minack Gardens are a relatively recent addition and are heavily influenced by South African, Mediterranean and South American flora.
In the early years, the spaces around the theatre were gorse, grass and bare rock. In the 1990s, we built the visitor centre and café, and when the builders had finished, there was an unsightly patch of bare ground left around the building works. We commissioned some planting for this tiny area and from this the gardens gradually evolved.
The coastal situation of the Minack is such that a lot of plants deemed tender throughout the rest of the country thrive in our cliff top setting.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the success of the garden. It is south facing, creating an all-day suntrap with high levels of UV light that help the plants to become stronger and tougher, especially during the winter months.
The granite bedrock, when decomposed, creates well-drained acid soil, perfect for South African plants. But probably our most favourable factor is that the theatre has its own microclimate and rarely gets a frost.
The wind is our most damaging foe, and during the winter, cold Easterlies can cause havoc.
The predominant succulents around the theatre are Aeoniums, an evergreen succulent from the Canaries. During the summer the colour comes courtesy of the South African players such as Agapanthus, Dierama – also known as Angels Fishing Rods, Protea and Crassula, with supporting roles from Gazanias, Arctotis and Osteospermum - the daisy-like perennials.
The other dominant plant seen cascading over the granite walls is another South African succulent called Delosperma, affectionately known as “the curtains”.
As the garden evolves we are looking to make the planting more sustainable with hardier plants mixed with the exotic and interesting species and to create more collections of botanically diverse plants.
We hope you have enjoyed your audio tour of the Minack. If you have any questions about the theatre, our onsite staff will be happy to help. You can find more information about Rowena Cade and the history of the Minack on our website.