The Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey in Cornwall, is one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK. The gardens were created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family, over a period from the mid-18th century up to the beginning of the 20th century – the garden evolving and becoming more extravagant with each passing generation. Throughout the 19th century, the gardens thrived, growing larger and requiring greater staff to manage them. Before the outbreak of World War I, the Tremayne estate employed 22 gardeners. Many of those loyal gardeners went to fight, and after the war their numbers had diminished so that the gardens fell into severe disrepair. As the rest of the estate was rented out, the gardens became an afterthought and were not rediscovered until the 1990s.
Their rediscovery by a distant relative of the Tremayne estate, led to a widely publicized attempt to bring the gardens back to life. The restoration of the Heligan Gardens was undertaken by Tim Smit, the same architect who conceived The Eden Project, the largest Greenhouse complex in the world.
The gardens now boast a fabulous collection of aged and colossal rhododendrons and camellias, a series of lakes fed by a ram pump over a hundred years old, highly productive flower and vegetable gardens, an Italian garden, and a stunning wild area filled with primaeval-looking sub-tropical tree ferns called "The Jungle". The gardens also have Europe's only remaining pineapple pit, warmed by rotting manure, and two figures made from rocks and plants known as the Mud Maid and the Giant's Head.
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