Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

A week away in Cornwall provided the perfect opportunity to visit a garden that has been on my list for a very long time, The Lost Gardens of Heligan. With so many beautiful gardens in Cornwall I could have chosen to visit any, but this one held particular intrigue. 

Having read about it and seen various pieces on television the attraction was clear, this was unlike any other country estate or manor house garden, this was something that had lain neglected for years, forgotten and unwanted. This was all until a chance discovery prompted was has now become the largest garden restoration project in Europe.

The vegetable gardens were as magnificent as you would expect from a garden of this stature. Originally providing food for the table of the grand house, this series of gardens now supply the Heligan kitchen with fresh fruit and vegetables for much of the year.

Each was as productive and well organised as the next with an emphasis on production above all else. Beans that had grown too big or that were past their best were left to dry either for the kitchen during winter or for seed for next years plants. Huge beds of asparagus blew in the wind capturing all of the suns energy ready for next years spears.

The brassica beds were also a point of huge envy, those that have read my previous posts know the woes I have had with the dreaded cabbage white butterflies, or specifically the caterpillars this year. My own fault really for trying to chose aesthetics over practicality and not netting them; a mistake I won't be making next year.

For many, the main draw of Heligan  is the jungle. Set in a damp, wooded valley facing down towards the sea you could easily imagine yourself in another world let alone another country. Giant Gunneras  dwarf you as you weave your way around the paths. Banana trees, palm trees and bamboo canes all combine to fantastic effect.  This is something that Cornwall's unique weather really lends itself to and is a real rarity elsewhere in the British Isles.

Of course I couldn't visit Heligan without crossing the famous Burmese rope bridge. If you thought that walking along the jungle floor was unique, walking through the treetops was something else. Providing a whole new perspective onto the magical world below.

Cornwall is a truly beautiful place anyway, given the chance I'm sure we'd all move there in an instant; I know I certainly would anyway. It was an absolute pleasure to look around, explore and enjoy these gardens for a day and I cannot recommend it enough. If you're in Cornwall and looking for a garden to visit put Heligan on the top of your list, you won't be disappointed.

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