Blooming after 25 years
HE Heligan estate gardens in Cornwall were a flourishing example of Edwardian progress until the First World War overshadowed everything; by 1917, they were a sad, ghostly jungle, after 15 out of the 23 outside workers had been killed.
The garden’s famous resurrection didn’t begin until 25 years ago, when Tim Smit of the Eden Project and John Willis, who was running the estate, were hacking their way through the aftermath of the Great Storm. Their most poignant discovery was the Thunderbox Room—the gardeners’
Tloos—with graffiti dated August 1914, which the Imperial War Museum has designated a ‘Living Memorial’.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan, which won Best UK Leisure Attraction in the British Travel Awards, starts its anniversary year, marked by the planting of some 20,000 snowdrop bulbs and 30,000 daffodils, by opening in aid of charity on New Year’s Day. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged (http://heligan.com; 01726 845100). There’s to be a new rare-breed animal barn in 2017 plus a ‘Love Wildlife’ week from February 11 to 19. KG