Once upon a time the gardens were the jewel and joy of the Heligan estate. Pineapples ripened in the pineapple pit, exotic flowers bloomed in the Japanese Garden, bees buzzed merrily to and from the bee boles. But in the years following the First World War, the Tremayne family moved out, the house at Heligan was tenanted and those bountiful and beautiful gardens, once so lovingly tended by a team of industrious gardeners, were left to run wild. The weeds sprang up, the brambles tangled over, the vines climbed high, and the gardens became hidden under a blanket of overgrowth – neglected and forgotten. That is until the early Nineties, when work began to restore the gardens to their former glory, and sow seeds for the future.
Star attractions Of all the fruits and veg now thriving on the estate, the profusion of pineapples in the pineapple pit have the biggest wow factor. A jaunt around the raised jungle boardwalk is a must, to take in stupendous sights such as giant rhubarb and towering bamboo. On the Woodland Walk, two curious figures wait to be discovered – a slumbering Mud Maid and a Giant (well, his head, at least). Peer into the lakes of the Lost Valley to discover the stickleback and rudd that teem beneath. Make a wish at the wishing well, or hide away in the crystal grotto.
Family X-Factor An enchanting story coupled with fascinating flora and fauna to spot makes this one of the UK’s most romantic days out.
Not many people know this, but… Many of the plants are survivors, off-shoots and descendants from Heligan’s original plant collection.
Don’t forget to take A map and compass, so if you get lost you won’t stay lost for nearly a century…
Cost £12 (adults), £6 (children), under-fives are free.
Lost Gardens Of Heligan, Pentewan, St.Austell, Cornwall PL26 6EN.
Also in the area The Eden Project