Visiting The Lost Gardens of Heligan

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I went to a botanical garden and liked it.

To be fair, I always enjoy photographing flowers and leaves. I’m never overly fussed about the gardens themselves – they smell lovely, but after awhile my brain gets bored and starts humming to itself or occupying me with thoughts about lunch and then I realize I’ve been awkwardly staring at tulips for who knows how long.

I visited Cornwall at the end of May with my parents who are big garden fans, and in the spirit of being a good travel companion I agreed to check out the Lost Gardens of Heligan near Mevagissey. The weather was unseasonably cold and grey and many of the flowers not yet in bloom, but it was still quite the beautiful place.

IMG_2628The gardens were created by the Tremayne family over a period of time spanning from the mid-18th century up to the beginning of the 20th century, but were neglected after the First World War. Uber-neglected. Restoration only began in the 1990s (you can find several great TV shows and books on the subject) – a pretty phenomenal feat when you see how much work they’ve done in a relatively short timeframe.

The contents vary depending on the area that you’re wandering – from fruit and veg gardens (including Europe’s only remaining pineapple pit), to a sub-tropical “jungle”, to massive rhododendrons.

Highlights for me, however, were the rock and plant figures designed by a local artist and her brother – the Mud Maid and Giant’s Head.

And the hard-working pigs.

I can only imagine how beautiful Heligan must be when all the flowers are in bloom (and it’s warm enough for you to thaw out your fingers) – check it out when in Cornwall. Pack good walking shoes for the trip – many of the paths are quite steep!

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