If you ever go to England, go to Cornwall and spend at least a day at the Lost Gardens of Heligan (http://www.heligan.com/ ). Due to a flat tire we only spent four hours there and we didn’t see even half of the 400 acres of incredible restored gardens. The story is this: a thousand acres on the southern coast of Cornwall has belonged to the Tremayne family for about 400 years. At the end of the 1800’s, one of the Tremaynes had built extensive theme gardens. There were walled gardens, enormous hedges, glass houses, cold frames, a pineapple pit where the only pineapple grown in Cornwall grew warmed by horse manure. Melon houses, leisure gardens, formal flower gardens, woods, kitchen gardens and unbelievably, tropical gardens, filled the estate. Due to Cornwall’s position by the English Channel the climate is such that with care tropicals can be grown there. The estate was fantastic; then came WW I, and almost half the family and staff were killed. The gardens were abandoned. Subsequent wars and taxes took their toll, and the gardens became overgrown. Vines, brambles, trees and weeds ran rampant, breaking through the glass roofs, pulling apart brick walls, upsetting carefully laid pathways and covering every trace of the gardens under a head-high blanket of tangled, thorny brush.
Twenty-one years ago, the Tremayne who inheirited the gardens, asked one of the founders of the neighboring Eden Project ( http://www.edenproject.com/ ) to try and restore the gardens. The task was phenomenal and reads like a mystery. Hacking through the overgrowth they found the walls, the foundations and the clues as to what had been. Since then the gardens have been restored. They are everyone’s dream of a garden combined. There is a mound that was a beacon mound during Nepolianic times, but then discovered dates back to the Armada, and then back to Medieval times! There is a jungle with massive gunnera plants and palm trees, about half an acre of vegetables all grown from seed that dates from the late Victorian time, walled flower gardens, ‘antique’ poultry and cattle, unique sculptures recently added, and a wildlife garden to encourage the existence of so many insects, birds and animals that are disappearing. Even with weeding through photos I came up with so many that I want to share, that I’ll just post them below. Visit the website and read up on the Lost Gardens, voted Britain’s Finest Gardens. They are magical.