A genuine secret garden lost in time for decades, The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall are now more magnificent than ever. Owned and loved by the Tremayne family for over 400 years, the estate slowly fell into decline with the arrival of WW1 when the gardens workforce left to fight in the war. Decades later in 1990 the derelict unloved gardens were discovered by Tim Smit and John Willis, (a Tremayne descendant) who swiftly began a groundbreaking restoration project to return the estate back to its former glory.
Today there is over 200 acres of green paradise to explore. The Victorian productive gardens are cultivated throughout the year and once met almost all the needs of the Tremayne family and their guests. Today the garden grows 300 varieties of fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs to supply the Heligan kitchen.
The lost valley and ancient woodlands are the perfect opportunity to enjoy your natural surroundings and is home to the iconic Heligan sculptures. The Mud Maid pictured above is just one of many waiting to be discovered in the natural landscape. Or if you prefer, you can follow one of the long winding paths in the pleasure grounds laid out two centuries ago where you are quite literally walking through British history. As well as the historic pathways, the Italian gardens are definitely a must see too.
During the period of decline in the estate and gardens, many plants both wild and cultivated began to flourish unrestrained due to the protection of surrounding overgrowth. This resulted in the luscious plant life we see today with the pleasure grounds being the perfect example of this. Home to 70 veteran camellias and 350 ancient rhododendrons among a collection of other plants in the gardens that have thrived.
Exotic plants, views that inspire, luxurious foliage and majestic trees make for an exciting adventure through the Heligan’s tropical gardens. Walk along the raised boardwalk that leads you around four ponds, giant rhubarb, banana plantations, palms and towering bamboo. Located in a steep-sided valley with a warm temperate climate synonymous with Cornwall the exotic plant life here has well and truly flourished.
Stretching 100 feet above the ancient ferns of the Jungle floor, the Burmese rope bridge at Heligan has a very real sense of danger and is a must do when you visit.
Also the home of a variety of both traditional and rare breed livestock and poultry, Heligan farm was recently awarded ‘Rare Breed Farm Park’ status by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (one of just 23 in the country). Using sustainable, low intensity techniques the farmland at Heligan has thrived and is another must see!
To discover the gardens for yourself or to find out more about the lost gardens of Heligan visit the website here.
Images, Lorna Tremayne, Toby Strong, Julian Stephens, Lost Gardens of Heligan.