Fantasy settings and a constant reminder of the past are the ingredients that characterize one of the most beautiful and mysterious attractions in Cornwall: the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
The history of these fascinating gardens dates back to several centuries ago, more specifically to the 12th century, when the homonymous residence was built. The gardens have kept the original name of the estate, but it took some time to see the first distinctive signs that characterize them today emerge. It was in fact the purchase of the property by a wealthy English noble family, the Tremaynes, that gave the Heligan estate an extraordinary attractive wealth. After a few generations of the family, Henry Hawkins Tremayne began to take painstaking care of the surrounding rural area and began to develop the Northern Gardens, the Flower Gardens and the Melon Yard.
The total area of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, at the time, was about 100 acres and within this vast vegetation the descendants of Herny Hawkins carried out the construction project of the predecessor, enriching the estate with an Italian garden, one Japanese and several hundred plantations of rhododendrons and ferns that make up the famous "Jungle" of Heligan.
The lush history of the gardens came to an abrupt halt during the first half of the 20th century. The arrival of the First World War forced gardeners to enlist in the army, leaving the gardens to fall into a progressive state of abandonment. In the interwar period, the last male heir of the Tremayne family, Jack Tremayne, decided to sell the entire estate and move to Italy. For this reason, during the Second World War, the villa was used first as a field hospital and then as accommodation for American troops.
The gardens remained abandoned for much of the century until 1990, when one of the heirs of the Tremayne family, John Willis, went with his friend and record producer Tim Willis. The wonder and amazement that struck them at the sight of this "fairy world" prompted them to organize, for the following year, an important restoration project that in just over a year allowed the reopening to the public. The area regained fame and rekindled tourism in the entire area, as confirmed by the BBC (which, in fact, followed the restoration work maniacally).
Today, tourists come from all over to visit Heligan's National Heritage rhododendron and camellia forest or world-famous eye-catching additions such as Mud Girl and Giant Head. The rich Jungle grows more and more, to the point of creating an independent microclimate that measures 5 ° more than the Northern Gardens.
The growth of the gardens is constantly evolving, so much so that today they cover an area of 200 acres, but in the future the project is to reach 300.