The Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey in Cornwall, are one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK. The style of the gardens is typical of the nineteenth century Gardenesque style, with areas of different character and in different design styles.
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, and still form part of the family's Heligan estate. The gardens were neglected after the First World War, and only restored in the 1990s, a restoration that was the subject of several popular television programmes and books.
The gardens now boast a fabulous collection of aged and colossal rhododendrons and camellias, a series of lakes fed by a ram pump over a century in age, highly productive flower and vegetable gardens, an Italian garden, and a stunning wild area filled with primaeval-looking sub-tropical tree ferns called "The Jungle". The gardens also have Europe's only remaining pineapple pit, warmed by rotting manure, and two figures made from rocks and plants known as the Mud Maid and the Giant's Head.
The place-name, properly pronounced 'h'LIG'n',and not the commonly heard 'HEL-i-gun', is derived from the Cornish word <helygen>, 'willow tree'.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan completely surround Heligan House and its private gardens. They lie some 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the north-east of, and about 250 feet (76 m) above, the fishing village of Mevagissey. The gardens are 6 miles (9.7 km) by road from the town and railway station of St Austell, and are principally in the civil parish of St Ewe, although elements of the eastern gardens are in Mevagissey parish.
The northern part of the gardens, which includes the main ornamental and vegetable gardens, are slightly higher than the house, and slope gently down to it. The areas of the gardens to the west, south and east of the house slope steeply down into a series of valleys that ultimately drain into the sea at Mevagissey. These areas are much wilder, and include The Jungle and The Lost Valley.
The Heligan estate was originally bought by the Tremaynes in the sixteenth century, and earlier members of the family were responsible for Heligan House and the (still private) gardens that immediately surround it.
Full article ▸