Heligan, in south Cornwall, was the home of the Tremayne family for over 400 years and in that time the family developed magnificent gardens both for their own pleasure and to produce fruit, vegetables and flowers for the household. However, their downfall could never have been foretold. Many of the gardeners who worked in the gardens went off to fight in WWI and few were to return. After the war the economy faltered and, like many great houses in that time, there was not the money to maintain the gardens in their former glory and they were left untended for nature to take over. The house was sold in the 1970's and converted into flats and a hurricane in 1990 wreaked yet more havoc.
In 1990, Tim Smit and John Willis (a descendent of the Tremayne family) discovered a tiny room, an old thunder-box toilet, buried under fallen masonry in the corner of one of the walled gardens. Written on the wall inside and still just visible was the date, August 1914 and the motto: “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber”. Underneath were the names of the gardeners at that time, so many of whom were to have their lives cut tragically short.
This discovery was to inspire Tim and John to restore the gardens to celebrate the lives of those who toiled to create and maintain them all those years ago. The two had a vision to bring back the rare and wonderful plants that could flourish in the mild Cornish climate and of working with nature to enhance the variety of habitats found within its 200 acres.
I'll let you decide, through my pictures, whether you think they succeeded.