Monday, April 13, 2009

Heligan

Sometime back in 1990 a scion of the House of Tremayne inherited a large piece of land not far from St Austell. Not the house, which had been sold in the 1970s. This land was the Gardens of Heligan, which had been abandoned during the First and Second WArs f the TWentieth Century and pretty much been allowed to return to nature. Nature had had a merry time in the ensuing seventy years, subduing what had been a vast estate which had fed and flowered the Tremayne Estate for several hundred years.

I am told that there was a Gardener’s World program which looked at the Lost Gardens in the very eary 1990s. I almost certainly did not see that. But I think I did see the Channel Four series about them in the later 1990s. Or perhaps I had seen Tim Smit’s book. I am fairly certain I had heard about them before I left Australia, and I did know about them when I came to visit Suzanna, then living in Plymouth, in the early 2000s. We made an attempt to visit them but it was a rainy, glowery day and we didn’t get any further than the plant shop.

So the Lost Gardens of Heligan were quite high on my list of things to do when we decided last November to come to Cornwall for Easter week, primarily to go to the Eden Project, which I have never been to and which The Builder has only visited quite early in their existence. And yesterday seemed an ideal day for Heligan, because the weather was glorious - and the forecast for the rest of the week is fairly dire from a garden-visiting point of view.

Jenny the Sat Nav took us through narrow, winding, enticing country lanes to Helligan.

And the gardens were truly beautiful. The sky was an almost impossible shade of blue. The sun shone. The rhododendrons and camellias were in full flower. The vegetable garden is about 3-4 weeks ahead of ours. There were enticing views down to the sea and across to Mevagissey. There were sheep and chickens and ducks. It is quite hard to believe that the rolling park lands and the gorgeous gardens had been overrun with bramble and laurel and other invasive plants only twenty years ago. We mostly concentrated on the “productive” North garden. We did stroll through the woodland walk but are hoping, if the weather is half way decent later in the week, to go back and do the more strenuous jungle and Lost Valley walks - preferably wearing our walking boots! We had fruit scones and elderflower presse for lunch, sat on the lawns by the Steward’s House. It was quite busy - but there are about 200 acres all told, so nothing was over crowded (except hen I wanted to inspect the Bee Boles and there was a guided tour inspecting them already!)

It was a good day

We came back to the cottage, along some more winding country lanes and abandoned our plan to go for a troll around the farm and instead sat outside on our little patio and drank wine in the sunshine and read our books before having lamb shanks for dinner.

There was a group of people on the farm yesterday. Listening to them in the later afternoon when they were motling around the stables and our little patio, it became clear that they were having a first meet after an internet or penpal acquaintance. I wonder if they were from the Archer’s message boards?!?!?

It is chilly and blustery and threatening shower today. We are pondering going to inspect an iron age village. We may rethink that when we get there if the wind is planning to blow us away!!

But breakfast first.
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