Heligan was the seat of the Tremayne family for over 400 years and is one of the most mysterious estates in England. A genuine secret garden, it was lost for decades following the First World War, before being rediscovered, restored and reopened to the public.
The thousand acres of Heligan were at their height at the end of the nineteenth century, and many skilled gardeners worked tirelessly to keep it in top shape. Sadly, the ivy and brambles started to overrun, and with World War One taking away many of the young gardeners, no one was able to keep the gardens in control.
Unlike other estates which crumbled in the early 20th century, Heligan estate was not sold and in the 1970s Heligan House was split into private apartments. After decades of neglect, a hurricane in 1990, the gardens fell into disarray.
But a discovery of a tiny room, buried under fallen masonry is a corner of one of the walled gardens was the beginning of something wonderful. A motto was etched onto the walls, "Don't come here to sleep or slumber," along with the named of those who worked in the gardens under the date of August 1914.
The gardens now have a large team who continuously work to make the award-winning gardens a magical place for everyone who visits. The gardens extend over 200 acres and are seen as an ongoing project.
After being discovered 25 years ago, The Lost Gardens of Heligan have become one of the most loved and romantic gardens in the UK, appreciated for its beauty, mystery and the ground-breaking restoration it has undergone. These gardens make for a perfect place for a day out with your loved one. The 200 acres are a paradise for wildlife lovers, plant enthusiasts, explorers and garden romantics. The whole estate is seen as a haven for both traditional native plants and exotic rare breeds, wildlife and ancient woodlands. A garden for all seasons, no matter the time of year you visit, there is something new to see and enjoy.
The Jungle is Cornwall's only outdoor jungle garden, and home to one of the longest Burmese Rope Bridges in the country. The garden has many exotic plants, outstanding trees and flourishing foliage, with many inspiring views for you to admire.
The Productive Gardens stand as a working memorial to the Lost Gardens and act as a living window to the past. Cultivated all year round, the gardens have many fruits, vegetables, salads and herbs growing as a supply to the Heligan Kitchen. You can enjoy sampling some of the food too, as it is served on the daily lunch menu.
First laid out over 200 years ago, the Pleasure Grounds reveal an unusual range of structures and features, linked together by a series of historical pathways and lined with historic plants from all over the world. Keep an eye out for The Witches' Broom, The Northern Summerhouse and The Sundial Garden.
The wildlife found in the gardens is a popular part of the Heligan experience. You can catch glimpses of kingfishers, a hummingbird hawkmoth or spot the bright red breast of a robin. The gardens' aim is to maximise the biodiversity within the various habitats, and you can visit the wildlife hide in the heart of the garden to catch a glimpse of the birds and animals.
Among the 200 acres of Heligan is 60 acres of traditional woodland. As you wander through the woods on a walk, you will come across beautiful sculptures too, such as The Giant's Head, the Mud Maid and the Grey Lady. Even though they are larger than life size sculptures, they blend beautifully into the natural landscape.
It is not just the gardens which draw many visitors every year, as the farm and animals are a fantastic part of the Heligan experience. There are different breeds of cattle, sheep and pigs, and in spring the lambs, piglets and calves are out in the fields too, and can also be pet. The Poultry Orchard is also home to chickens, ducks and geese who roam free beneath the Cornish apple trees.
Events are held all throughout at the year at Heligan, with historical garden tours, Easter activities and storytelling evenings just some you can enjoy. Check ahead before you visit so you don't miss out.
So, what are you waiting for? Book a stay at our boutique hotel, and spend a day exploring the wonders of The Lost Gardens of Heligan this spring.
Images by: Loco Steve, Reflected Serendipity, Gareth James, Richard Cooke, Ian Knox