Lost Gardens of Heligan

Image courtesy of Toby Strong

In Brief

Name: Lost Gardens of Heligan
Type: Garden attraction
Suitable for: Nature lovers
Location: Just off the B3273, Pentewan, St Austell
Price: Adults £17.50 (£19.50 July-Sept), five to 17-year-olds £8.50 and under-fives go for free
Dog friendly?: Yes

Cornwall boasts a vast expanse of natural beauty. Some of this beauty lines the cliff edges and countrysides but some of it is nurtured by locals in the form of stunning gardens that are open to the public. Some of these gardens are hidden gems. But some of them are well-known. And perhaps the most famous of them all are the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, just outside the coastal village of Pentewan and not too far from St Austell or Mevagissey, is a magical natural attraction. Stretching out over 200 acres, this is a paradise of Victorian productive gardens and pleasure grounds surrounding winding paths that were laid out more than 200 years ago. An Italian garden, an alpine-inspired ravine, Maori-carved tree ferns from New Zealand, more than 70 veteran camellias and more than 350 ancient rhododendrons which were planted as far back as 1850. That’s just for starters as you lose yourself in this restored natural kingdom.

The gardens were actually hidden from view and ‘lost to the brambles of time since the outbreak of the First World War’ until just over 30 years ago when a door in the ruins was discovered by chance. Shortly after, this once magnificent estate – the seat of the Tremayne family for more than 400 years – was restored and it now stands as a tourist attraction of ‘history, mystery and romance’. Find this romance as you wander through the gardens and woodland walks, discovering so many stunning species and listening to the birdsong.

Pre-booking your trip to the lost gardens is essential. And if you’ve got kids, they’re well catered for, from the seasonal events that include a ‘wild week’ and Halloween to the acres of raised boardwalks for wildlife spotting in The Jungle zone, as well as the adventure play area and meeting the estate’s farm animals – including plenty of pigs. You’ll also get hungry on your journey around the estate, so tap up the attraction’s Heligan Kitchen and Bakery that sources many of its meat and plant ingredients from the estate, creating hearty dishes and light bites for all visitors. There’s also a shop and plant centre on the site if you’re looking to buy. All in all, this is a must-visit for garden lovers. Thank goodness that door was found and these heavenly gardens were brought back to life for us all to enjoy.