The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

A bit of background

One of Cornwall’s biggest tourist attractions is the incredible Lost Gardens of Heligan. With 200 acres of glorious grounds they are one of the UK’s most popular botanical gardens and feature a spectacular collection of plant species and different habitats to discover.

Though the Heligan House dates from the late 17th century, it was only 25 years ago that its huge gardens opened up to the public. The estate fell into disrepair following World War II and it was in the early 1990s that the gardens were finally bought back to life. The extensive project was documented on Channel 4 back in 1997 and has since featured on the BBC’s Springwatch series.

The gardens famously feature a number of different areas that you can discover on a walking tour of the grounds. Everywhere you wander, you’ll come across unusual plants and interesting features.

What to see

The Victorian Productive Gardens are a nod towards Heligan’s past and use traditional growing methods to produce a selection of heritage fruit, veg and herbs. Here you’ll find a Kitchen garden, a walled garden, a glasshouse and a melon yard! You can learn about the horticultural practices that would have been used there during the Victorian era. Plus, visitors to the estate can sample the flavours grown here because the produce is used in the onsite restaurant.

Heligan’s intricate Pleasure Grounds were first laid over 200 years ago. The historic pathways link a network of themed areas that walk you through different parts of the world. Thanks to its location close to the south coast of the UK, Heligan has an enviably warm climate that supports the collection of exotic plants on display.

This part of the world is known for its camellias and rhododendrons so make sure to take a look at Heligan’s National Collection of them which was introduced here almost 100 years ago. The range of plants attracts all sorts of nature and the lovely herbaceous borders are great for bees and butterflies.

The Jungle Garden is home to one of the longest Burmese rope bridges in Britain. This excellent corner of Heligan is full of mystery and gorgeous views. Huge evergreens tower above a forest floor carpeted in ancient tree ferns. It’s quite spectacular.

You can shake things up a bit by visiting Heligan’s woodland, or farm where little ones will be entertained watching traditional and rare breed animals, livestock and poultry. Or venture further out to explore the surrounding grounds where you’ll spot the grazing sheep and copious wildflowers.

With its combination of working gardens, pleasure grounds and wilder areas, Heligan is a treat for all tastes and all lovers of the outdoors.

How to visit

Prices for adults to Heligan are £14.50 and the gardens are open from 9.30am most days - though do check the website for seasonal changes here.

The gardens are located close to the coastal village of Pentewan off the B3273. They are less than an hour from Duloe. There are directions on their website.

If you’re a real garden person, why not visit the nearby Eden Project as well? You can save money by buying a combined ticket for both attractions. More info here.

Group visits depart from Duloe Manor every Monday, and this includes a guided tour of the gardens. There are often special events and activities going on at Heligan so do keep your eyes open for these, or check out their website to see what sorts of things are coming up. 

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