Saturday, 29 June 2013

Cornwall 2013 - The Lost Gardens of Heligan

First of all a confession is necessary. I attached myself to a party of German tourists and walked through without paying. In my defence I knew I only had a couple of hours there before Marina finished work and came to pick me up. Having been to Heligan a few times before I knew my way around pretty well and decided I would get off the usual tourist trails this time. I have to say The Lost Gardens are for me the greatest visitor attraction in Cornwall if not the UK. I have been to the Eden Project which was fine but wouldn't want to go back again particularly. Yet with Heligan I can keep returning time after time and never feel bored. The gardens were created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family, over a period from the mid-18th century up to the beginning of the 20th century. The gardens were neglected after the First World War and restored only in the 1990s. The gardens now boast a fabulous collection of amazing Rhododendrons and a series of lakes, a wonderful flower and vegetable gardens, an Italian garden, and a stunning wild area filled with primaeval-looking sub-tropical ferns and trees called the 'jungle'. If you look hard enough there are lots of hidden treasures such as grottos, wishing wells and caves. The picture above shows me with the giant 'Gunnera Manicata' which can grow up to 11 feet high and leaves 9 feet wide. native to the Serra do Mar mountains of southeastern Brazil and thrives in the mild and humid conditions of Heligan. As mentioned I went off the beaten track and went down to the 'Hidden Valley' which was packed with wildlife including Buzzards, Woodpeckers, Kestrels, Meadow Pipits, Swallows, Foxes and the occcasional Hare. There were even some Saddleback Pigs in their woodland pen who were very jolly. There are various quirky attractions to be seen and floral art was commissioned as well, resulting in the Giant’s Head and the Mud Maid, a sleeping woman of the forest made out of wood, grass and earth

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