Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Lost Giants of Heligan

Whilst on our recent trip travelling through Cornwall, I overheard whispering tales of colossal giants that secretly reside in the depths of The Lost Gardens of Heligan. You know the score by now, my senses are finely tuned to anything magical and I'm always ready for an adventure. I called out to Hercules to get the car ready and we headed south from our hotel perched high above the sands of Carlyon Bay to see what the fuss was all about.


When the gardeners of the grand Heligan estate were called up to fight during the onset of the first world war, the beautifully maintained 400-year-old gardens were sadly left behind, inevitably falling into disrepair, becoming rampantly overgrown and forgotten for over 70 years.

It wasn't until the 1990's that the layers of untamed vegetation were peeled back, revealing the embers of glory that lay hidden for decades. Twenty years of painstaking restoration and love has been poured back into what is now one of Britain's most loved gardens.

It didn't take long to uncover evidence upon our arrival that this was indeed a Giant's playground. I was reminded of a similar investigation we embarked upon a year or two ago, to find the elusive Dragons of Wales and wondered, would I really get to meet a giant on this quest?


There was no turning back, I was here to find a giant and a giant I would find.


My first witness was a rather shifty looking character who I found nonchalantly standing in the middle of Heligan's Kitchen Garden. I quizzed him as to the whereabouts of said giants.



As you can clearly see, he was staying very tight-lipped.

Undeterred, I pressed on in my search, up hillsides and down valleys.


I looked in every nook, cranny and bee bole, but there were no giants here.


I searched within a clump of rustling Crocosmia growing on a shallow mound but to no avail.


I scoured every conservatory but there were no giants here.


I discovered the prettiest well and stuck my head over the edge calling out "Coooey" but my own echo was the only reply. There were no giants here.


I quizzed the cows grazing in the fields about the whereabouts of giants and in doing so, accidentally leaned on an electric fence that borders the pasture. We'll just skim over the details, suffice to say I don't think a cow ever heard such language!


I interviewed the flowers, Magnolia, Crinodendron, Hydrangea one and all, but there were no giants here.

Click on Images to Enlarge

 One of the many dedicated gardeners that help to keep the magic of Heligan alive, just shook his head and carried on with his weeding, there were no giants here.


The fountain of the Italian garden sings of peace and tranquillity, but not a giant in sight.


 Whilst noseying around some outbuildings, I discovered a wonderful collection of antique gardening tools. Or maybe the implements that a giant would use, to grind you know what, to make his bread.


I checked behind mounds of ivy and ferns but there were no giants to be seen.


Under fruit trees, down into the jungle valley and under tree ferns, I left no leaf unturned.


Were these two crossing the valley or running from thundering footsteps?


The towering foliage of Gunnera manicata would be the perfect spot in which one could shelter from the harsh midday sun, but there were no giants here.


I walked the length and breadth of the Lost gardens of Heligan, until I had to rest my weary feet. I traversed bridges, talked to the animals and colluded with the flowers but search as I might, I must admit defeat.
There were obviously no giants here...
...Were there?

25 comments:

  1. Oh Paul, what a magical place, thanks for the tour of the land of the giants. Cute shoes!

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    1. Cheers Amelia, it really is a magical place, Max would have a field day.

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  2. Oh this is all so so beautiful and you are such a wonderful writer.
    Careful with those feet - I got an email from a foot fetishist this week! Should have forwarded that gem to you.

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    1. Giggles. I'm keeping my laces tied very tightly thank you very much.

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  3. Dear Paul,
    such a beautiful garden - still on my list... When you told the story how it was forgotten in the times of war, it made me think of "The Secret Garden" by E.H.Burnett.
    There must have been a giant - maybe he is so big that you mistook some trees - their stems weren't trees, but his legs.

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    1. I should have had you with me Britta. I'm sure your giant hunting skills would have been a great help.

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  4. Beautiful photos, Paul! And a brilliant tour of Heligan - bravo!! I've read so much about this garden and, one day, I'll visit in person. Until then, thanks for taking us along. Cheers from Maine :)

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    1. Hey Loi, you must visit Cornwall and Devon. Rent a car and travel around for a few days, you'd have a marvelous time. Hope all's going well in Maine. I hear the lobster is mighty tasty up there.

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  5. Ha Ha! Still on my list too, it looks a wonderful place.

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    1. I think we need to organise a coach trip at this rate. ;)

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  6. Ahh, a trip down memory lane. We visited about 15 years ago. Wasn't it a Dutchman who brought the garden back to life again? I can remember we liked it very much! Would love to have one of those three ferns or a Gunnera in my garden, but don't think it's possible....no more space for my flowers! Great photo's!

    Have a pleasant Sunday!

    Madelief x

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    1. That's right Madelief, Tim Smit lead the restoration. He is also the brains behind the Eden project. Go on, I'm sure you can squeeze a tree fern in somewhere :)

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  7. Thank you for the history and tour of this fascinating garden. Your photos are fabulous!
    Have a lovely Sunday,
    Phyllis

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    1. Thanks Phyllis, it really is a fascinating garden. We watched it being restored back in 1990s and it goes from strength to strength.
      It a gorgeous day today, I'm thinking of heading over to Bunny's place again with my cossie, see you there :)

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  8. This is so fabulous! The scenery, the gardening, the photography, the imagination, the words. Love it all!!!!

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    1. Thanks Cindy. You know me I like to give it a little magical spin:)

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  9. Hello Paul, the view of the bay is so magnificent. Looks so tranquil and fresh. You are so funny exploring the gardens. I bet the giants were having fun watching you looking for them all over their garden. I bet they were watching you. But they did great work restoring the work after so many decades. This was a fun read and your photos are fabulous! Happy Sunday!

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    1. I bet they did have fun watching me Pamela, especially the one peeping out of the ground :)

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  10. Such a joy to read this today on your blog. We were over in 2008 I believe it was; your images of beauty and awe with playful Giant seeking, describe the garden so well. Didn't you love the garden shed as well as the rows and rows of kitchen and cutting garden! Again Paul, such happy memories; thank you for taking me back there today.

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  11. I believe I will need to join your search when I travel next June!
    Thank you for sharing this magical garden and for coming to visit Velvet and Linen!
    I will definitely research the other gardens you suggested.

    With much appreciation,

    Brooke

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    1. Good luck, they're pretty elusive characters:)
      Thanks for stopping by Brooke, I look forward to hearing all about your travels and which garden you decided to visit.
      Paul

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  12. I visited Heligan about 12 years ago Paul…..what a magical place it was! Great pictures, and I would so love to go again. Thank you for your kind comment on my blog….Dafne was indeed a very talented stylist!

    Hope you had a lovely weekend, Sophia x

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  13. Paul, Lovely and amazing gardens. I love the diversity here and how fascinating that they discovered this after being lost for so long. Great it's being cared and restored! Now were those giants always there? So fun. I think they were sneaking up on you Paul!! I've never seen anything like them. So love to get there on my next trip to Britain.
    Gorgeous photos as usual Paul! x Kim

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  14. Hello Paul.
    I love the story of 'The Lost Gardens".
    Although I haven't visited, I recall seeing their stand at Hampton Court garden show a few years ago which definitely whetted my appetite. So thanks for the reminder.
    Great photos as always, and the sunshine fairy was definitely looking over you that day.
    Hope you have a lovely weekend,
    Liz x

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  15. BRILLANT...............what a stunning place.You did a very good job searching Mister Paul.......and I am so sorry that wire GOT YOU!OUCH!I am reading about VITA..........and her castle tower.I am fascinated by the whole story.England is calling my name................maybe next SPRING!

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