There are so many wonderful places to visit for a great day out when you’re on holiday in Cornwall, but for us, a visit to The Lost Gardens of Heligan in the Spring is an absolute must.
The riot of colour from mature shrubs, trees and potted flowers is truly mesmerising. Camellias, magnolias and rare varieties of rhododendron create a sea of colour, and carpets of pink petals line the walkways.
With over 200 acres to explore, and a variety of features from the formal sundial and Italian gardens, to the wilds of The Jungle, Burma Rope Bridge and Woodland Walk, there is so much to explore, see and do. Add to that a fabulous restaurant, cafe and shop selling local art and crafts, beautiful plant specimens and books. Exploring Heligan really makes for the most fantastic day out in Cornwall. It would certainly be up there in our top five places to visit if you are on holiday in Cornwall. If you’re planning a number of holiday adventures, then discover more of our top tips with our favourite cycling days out and top dog-friendly adventures in Cornwall.
The Heligan Story
The Lost Gardens of Heligan are not just a feast for the eyes. Heligan’s story is unique. The Tremayne family have owned the Estate for over 400 years. During the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a thriving, almost self-sufficient community at Heligan House. But this is not the typical story of the family in the Big House, but of the land and its workforce; their knowledge and skills.
At least thirteen of Heligan’s outdoor staff served in World War I, tragically nine gave their lives. Soon afterwards, Jack Tremayne left and Heligan and rented it out, saying he ‘could no longer live with the ghosts’. The gardens became… lost.
In 1990 John Willis (a descendant of the Tremaynes) introduced Tim Smit to the devastated and overgrown estate. Tim was an archaeologist by training and this experience prompted an all-consuming curiosity, to discover what had happened, how The Gardens of Heligan had become lost, and what lay beneath the overgrown mass.
What followed was a mammoth task, and for many a life’s work; decades of overgrowth were cut back, priceless veteran plant specimens uncovered, buildings restored and greenhouses resurrected.
The intriguing history and traditional horticultural practices were meticulously researched. Faint pencil signatures were discovered in the ancient buildings dated August 1914. The team vowed that the restoration would be undertaken as a tribute to these working people.
Easter fun at Heligan
As well as discovering the history on a visit to Heligan, and exploring the gardens, there is also lots of fun to be had for younger visitors. Each school holiday, Heligan puts on something special for children. If you are on holiday in Cornwall and find yourself stuck for entertainment on Easter Sunday, there is an adventure to be had at The Lost Gardens of Heligan!
This Easter holiday, children are inspired to follow the ribbons on a trail through the gardens to the special Easter activity area, where they can plant their own runner bean, play some fun games and join in all the activities.
Our little nephew, Hunter visiting from Sydney had great fun with big cousin Georgia making an animal head dress and Easter themed colouring fun. Hours of entertainment!
Whatever the time of year, there’s always something new to explore at The Lost Gardens of Heligan. With the changing seasons, the variety of blooms and plant specimens flourish at different times of the year encouraging you to come back and explore this beautiful setting time and again.
Have you visited Heligan recently? We’d love to hear about your adventures – so please feel free to comment below.