Six on Saturday | Lost Gardens of Heligan

There is not a lot of change in my garden this week, though I have bought a couple of new perennial plants for the shady border. How could I resist when they were being offered at 50% off! Now I can’t decide whether to keep them in their pots until the spring or chance planting them now. Any thoughts?

Where did I buy these bargains from? The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Europe’s largest garden restoration project. October 31 was the last day to go there and buy a Local’s Pass which means for the price of one visit I can visit as many times as I like over the next year. I did this with the Eden Project this year and managed to get in 4 visits, however it’s not really a botanic garden despite the Biomes, more geared to education and events that I can do without.  So I figured it should be Heligan for the next 12 months, to follow it through the seasons. Still about an hour’s drive from here so if I get 4 visits in I shall be happy.

Tragically once I had arrived at the garden I discovered that my SD card was faulty and being the numbskull that I am I hadn’t brought my camera bag with me so had no spare! Luckily I did have my phone and it was fully charged, but it doesn’t take such great images so I shall just show you some of the garden areas rather than any close-ups – not that there was much flowering to take a close up of.

  1. View down to the Ravine which leads into the charming pretty Italian garden.
  2. The Italian Garden.  The Italian garden was the first of several ornamental gardens to be discovered and its clearance and restoration held potential media interest. Tim Smit enticed BBCs ‘Gardeners World’ to film an extended feature on the programme so John Nelson (1938 – 2014) Pioneer of the Restoration during 1990 – 1999 came under pressure to get the project underway. Filming was broadcast on the show in September 1991 which sparked a nationwide interest in what was going on.
  3. The Flower Garden.  This large walled garden includes several glasshouses – Citrus House, The Vinery (Paxton House) and Peach House. All are undergoing maintenance. I have yet to visit this garden and find it full of flowers, and this visit was no exception. Admittedly a little late in the year to expect much. There was a rather lovely red rose still blooming away and the remnants of Dahlias.
  4. From here you can enter the Sundial Garden which is one of my favourite areas as it is usually quite tranquil and would be a nice place to sit and read a book. Now I don’t need to rush around the garden I might do this in the spring. The garden does contain a sundial at the centre of the paths and several very large urns which I love. These were filled with a very striking Begonia.
  5. The Jungle. A fabulous area with boardwalks and paths leading down to a gully with two ponds. There is tropical planting and tree ferns, huge Gunnera and tall trees. The main attraction for adults and children alike is the ‘Burma Rope Bridge’ which swings its way over the stream below. Apparently during the summer there can be a wait of more than 30 minutes for this feature.
  6. ‘The Lost Boys’. The Heligan story is unique and I will let you read about it yourself, but briefly it was once a thriving community. At least thirteen of Heligan’s outdoor staff served in WWI with nine tragically losing their lives. Soon afterwards the owner of the estate, Jack Tremayne, left Heligan and rented it out saying that he ‘could no longer live with the ghosts’. The Gardens became… lost.

    A charming and simple remembrance of these boys/men is in the Melon Yard and close to a thunderbox room (gardeners’ toilet) where several pencil signatures were discovered during the restoration, all dated August 1914. The team restoring the garden vowed that it would be a tribute to these working men. In 2013 the Thunderbox Room was registered by the Imperial War Museum as a “Living Memory to the Gardeners of Heligan House”.

    I was quite taken by the use of the plant labels to record their names and as we approach the centenary of  the end of that dreadful war, I admit to feeling a little choked. So many ‘lost boys’.

See here for the participant’s guide.

Six on Saturday


  1. Lovely views .
    Poignant story.

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is sad that 100 years later there are still so many wars going on around the world.

      1. I know.

        Will mankind never learn?

  2. bushboy says:

    Thank you for taking me with you Jude. I am glad we have a whole year pass 😀

    1. Heyjude says:

      It will be a pleasure to have your company Brian 🙂

  3. “So many lost boys”. Very touching. Thanks for sharing Heligan with me, I haven’t been for many years and I am sure much has changed. Inspired me to put that right in 2019.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Wasn’t sure whether to include the 6th point, but it did impress me with the simplicity of the memorial. And it is an important aspect of this garden.

      1. I’m glad you did, lovely.

  4. Jim Stephens says:

    That is a very nice Begonia. Begonia used to be synonymous with tricky houseplants and not very nice bedding; things have changed somewhat and the temptation level is rising steadily.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes! The second one I have seen recently that I loved. These cannot be hardy though surely?

  5. Chloris says:

    Great post and very timely. I haven’t been for years, obviously time for another visit. Lucky you being able to go regularly. What did you buy?

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’ll disclose the purchases next week when I do a six from my own garden 🙂 I did go out yesterday to take photos and then when I got back indoors realised there was no card in the camera! I must be going doolally!

      1. Chloris says:

        I’ve done that before. In fact the last time it happened was when I went to Beth Chatto’s garden. Infuriating.

  6. restlessjo says:

    I don’t have much to say but I looked a lot 😃😃 xx

    1. Heyjude says:

      You. Don’t. Have. Much. To. Say.
      Are you ill?
      Or missing James already?
      Hope you had a lovely week. When do the next lot arrive?

      1. restlessjo says:

        Good guess! I was at death’s door this morning but much better now. Daft cold and feeling rough. Bed changing and washing day. Lisa arrives tomorrow evening. Yes we had a good time, thanks 😃😃

        1. Heyjude says:

          Just Lisa this time? No Leo? How long is she with you for? I do hope you pick up – not been right since you left with the cough, You need to stop doing so much! And you HAVE to be feeling better for Monday!!

        2. restlessjo says:

          And Leo. Till Wednesday evening. I was fine for a couple of weeks but we went from hot to cool and I can’t seem to shake it. No 2 days alike. Yesterday was fabulous but a lot of the day was spent preparing for guests with a nice interlude by the sea. Grey this morning and we’re walking with friends. Last chance before we’re home. Wine tasting tomorrow so I’m bound to be fit! 😃 Thanks for your concern Jude xx

        3. Heyjude says:

          A shame they couldn’t all be there for the BIG one, but I guess the littlie is back to school tomorrow? Hope you do feel better – nothing worse than a cold for affecting the taste of wine 😦

        4. restlessjo says:

          Yes school tomorrow. Second birthday celebration with his Dad this weekend 😃

        5. Heyjude says:

          Kids with separate families get very spoiled!

        6. pommepal says:

          Sorry to hear about the cold hope you are better now

        7. restlessjo says:

          Thanks darlin! Getting there 😃😃 xx

  7. pommepal says:

    A glorious post Jude. You did well with your phone this is a garden I would love to visit. Such history and so sad too I will see if I can find the BBC video on YouTube I think the year pass will be great value. I think I would put the new plants in pots in the orangery till spring better safe than sorry

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Pauline, the phone doesn’t really do photos that well. They look OK as small images. Lucky I had it with me as I don’t always carry it! I am looking forward to the visits next year already.

      1. pommepal says:

        I’m not a fan of phone cameras and when I was debating whether i needed to update my very old iPhone because I thought the camera would be useful I decided instead to buy a small fully functional small Cannon camera. I never regretted the decision. I’m looking forward to more photos of Heligan

        1. Heyjude says:

          never had an iPhone. I know they have good cameras but they are very expensive. Since I rarely use my phone anyway it makes sense for me to have a cheap phone and an expensive camera. Just need to remember to carry spares!

        2. pommepal says:

          I think phones are just for messages, not long conversations

        3. Heyjude says:

          Well I do use mine for long conversations with my daughter – cheaper than using the landline these days! In fact if we didn’t need the landline for Broadband then we’d do without one.

        4. pommepal says:

          We don’t have a landline. Don’t need it for cable internet

        5. Heyjude says:

          I can’t get cable here, and I refuse to buy anything from Rupert Murdoch. Now Sky has been sold I might rethink that option (satellite dish), but we don’t really need endless rubbish TV channels.

        6. pommepal says:

          The cable is just for internet, unfortunately because NBN is now being rolled out nation wide I will have no option but to change soon as cable internet is being disconnected. I think cable TV is a total waste of money. We have had opportunities to see it when house sitting. What a load of American rubbish….

  8. Su Leslie says:

    I think your phone photos work well to give a sense of the gardens Jude — though I understand your frustration at finding the SD card faulty. It looks like a besutiful and very worthwhile project and i’m looking forward to seeing photos of your future visits too.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have better photos of the garden on my blog Su if you feel like a visit. Just click on the heligan tag and follow the links. The little bit on the edge of the card which changes it from write to write protect had fallen off (since found on my desk and put back) so I couldn’t write to the card. You’d think these places would stock some in their shops wouldn’t you? Even a 2GB one would have sufficed.

      1. Su Leslie says:

        Thanks Jude. I will take a look. And I agree with you about the cards. It would be a good earner — and very welcome for visitors.

  9. Stunning photos. Phone cameras are pretty good these.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Some of the expensive ones are, I agree, but mine is a cheapo Windows phone. Not one to use for photos except in an emergency!

      1. It did a good job when you needed it!

        1. Heyjude says:

          Yeh, needs must!

  10. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I miust go back, it’s been years. Perhaps I can persuade you to meet me there in spring 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      That would be an excellent idea. Though I still want you to show me around Exeter!

      1. Lucid Gypsy says:

        Both an excellent plan, Exeter is a long way though. Late spring or early summer is a good time to be here!

        1. Heyjude says:

          We shall have to make a plan next year for definite!! Takes me under 2 hours to drive to Exeter outskirts and I can do the park and ride from there.

        2. Lucid Gypsy says:

          A park and I’ll pick you up!

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