by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Have you heard of the Lost Gardens of Heligan? It is the Best Heritage site on the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards in 2013-2014.
|come with us to wander in the|
Lost Gardens of Heligan
Tim Smit discovered and restored Heligan, before he created the Eden Project (Cornwall, the Rain Forest Biome and the Mediterranean Biome). The gardens were famous in Victorian times. Imagine it, TWENTY-TWO gardeners! When they went away to fight in the First World War, the gardens of Heligan were lost. With my Irish grandfather – there is a corner of a foreign field that is forever, in his case, Anglo-Irish.
We took the train from London (wildly expensive, but we preferred that to hiring a car). Caught a glimpse of the White Horse of Wiltshire - because another train passenger mentioned it. We stayed in a B & B in St. Austell (my mama taught us to say Osell). Beautiful sunny July day, not the winter blizzard we got the day before when we could lurk in the grateful shelter of the biomes at Eden. The bus wound its gentle and leisurely way across the countryside ... to Heligan. We stopped at Mevagissey on the return journey. My mother grew up in Perranporth, and for me it was like stepping into the stories I was raised on.
|Mevagissey harbour on a peaceful July day in 2009|
If you haven’t heard of Heligan, you may well have seen the Mud Maid and Giant's Head sculptures, but, like me, not known where to find them. We walked first through the woods so I could see the sculptures (designed by Sue Hill and Pete Hill), which is why I came. Her dress is ivy, and their hair is Montbretia.
|Giant's Head at Heligan|
|Mud Maid at Heligan|
Then we walked around the ponds, through the jungle, which is why the Ungardener came.
|The Jungle at Heligan|
The largest vegetable garden I have ever imagined, with an avenue of pairs of apple trees arching over. A wall dedicated to beehives, which were woven like baskets, in the beehive shape which you can see in Winnie the Pooh books.
An Italian garden to catch the sun, for the last member of the Tremayne family to live there (though he spent most of his life, and died in his beloved Italian home). The little statue in the pond is a replacement, but comes from the same factory in Italy, perhaps even from the same mould as the original. And a New Zealand link to remind me of my father – with carved tree ferns, sent with the Maori blessing “May the breath of life run through this garden”. And through yours, and mine.
|Cherub in the Italian Garden at Heligan|
Gardening on a grand scale. A hedge with a view. Take a deep bow, framed - the curtains open to the valley and the sea.
|Heligan's hedge with a view|
|The view over Heligan's bowed hedge|
Storing up memories of my mother's Cornish childhood as we head for the bus back to St Austell.
|A last glimpse of the sea from Heligan|
Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studerof Elephant's Eye on False Bay
(If you mouse over teal blue text, it turns seaweed red.
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