I have been to Cornwall more times than I can count. It is such a beautiful and full of life county in the Southwest of England. This is the main reason I keep coming back there, may it be sun or rain.
I always tell my husband Will, who happens to be Cornwall born and raised 🤓how much Cornish people remind me of my home, Israel. Like in a big Kibbutz, everyone seems to know each other and be friendly with strangers. It is my go-to spot to get out of the hectic city life of London, and as much as the city has a lot to offer, it can’t offer what Cornwall has: like the best Cornish Pasties and some of the most stunning outdoor and heritage sites in the UK.
So, what’s so special about the gardens?
To the Lost Gardens of Heligan I first came during winter-time back in 2015 and then again in the summer of 2019, two very different experiences of the same place mostly because the gardens are so big it will be a challenge to see the whole place in one go. It is considered one of Cornwall’s top attractions, and if you’re curious to know why, keep reading and you’ll discover why I love it.
Situated at the eastern side of Cornwall, the Lost Gardens of Heligan (Lowarth Helygen in Cornish, meaning “Willow Tree Garden”) is one of the most unique and visited botanical gardens in the UK. Why is it unique you ask? I believe the photos speak for themselves, though the history behind it is quite fascinating, so keep reading to learn more 😊
The gardens were made in a few different design styles which was typical to the 19th century and is called Gardenesque. They were created by members of the Tremayne family in the mid 18th century up until the beginning of the 20th century. That is quite some time isn’t it?
I too wondered why, and discovered that it is because the gardens were neglected after the First World War and re-awakened in the 1990’s by an extended family member of the Tremayne family along with other garden-lovers, thus making the Lost Gardens of Heligan Europe’s largest garden restoration project. The garden’s outstanding journey has also led the gardens to be the focal point of a British TV show with the same name in 1996. If you feel like you can’t wait to visit the gardens and want to see the show, you can buy it from Amazon here.
Reaching 200 acres, some of the things you can find in the gardens are wildlife, plants galore with a scenic vegetable garden, a tropical looking jungle, woodland sculptures, a massive kids playground area as well as a charming souvenir shop and a lovely cafe (yes – with vegan options!). The place is also dog friendly, no reason your pet shouldn’t join in for the experience!
The Lost Valley & Ancient Woodlands
One of Heligan’s most interesting traits is the Woodland area. There you will find a few very unique sculptures that are iconic with the garden. What may arguably be the most well-known of the bunch are The Giant’s Head and the Mud Maid which you will discover as they emerge from the scenic garden when you walk through a path that was created 200 years ago.
Sculptures were created by artists Sue and Pete Hill, siblings and Cornwall locals working together since 1996 with commissions all over the world. Their artworks contain a lot of natural ingredients such as mud, plants and steel. You can find another of their famous sculptures in the Eden Project.
The build and process of the sculptures is what makes them so striking. They are made from nature and are placed in nature, connected to the ground and the earth in such a way that tells a beautiful fairy-tale. The Mud Maid looks to me like what Mother Nature might look like, situated in such a way that seems like she is listening to the earth’s heartbeat. Even more so, it reminds me of Te Fiti from Disney’s Moana. Te Fiti is described as a peaceful and loving, part island, and part spirit of life. On the other hand, the Giant’s Head seems to be a more humoristic and child-like creature staring right at you mischievously.
When the skies will open up again and there hopefully won’t be a trace of the COVID virus left, I highly recommend taking a trip to the scenic Cornwall and stopping at the Lost Gardens of Heligan on the way. I know I can’t wait to be there again!
Address: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, B3273, Pentewan, Saint Austell PL26 6EN, Cornwall