|First views - the West Lawn on a misty morning!|
|Tim Smit & Jim Nelson - Heligan as it was early 1990's|
|Similar view as it is today|
The main walled garden is laid out traditionally with long rows of fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. No modern gimmicks just maximum production. The walls are clothed with trained fruit trees and the central walkway is covered with apple arches and lined with flowers. Traditionally a 19C family would have visited the gardens after church on Sunday, before lunch and whilst they would walk through the vegetable garden, there had to be flowers to make it presentable! Cabbages hidden well from view!
|Cordon fruit trees in the kitchen garden|
|Serried ranks of vegetables growing to attention!|
|Heligan scarecrow or is it the ghost of a past gardener?|
|The apple walk|
|The walls show hundreds of holes where long gone vine eyes were used to train fruit|
Next to the main walled garden is a smaller enclosure known as the melon yard, containing a restored glasshouse and numerous frames. Just look at the size of these huge 'lights' used to cover the frames. Tough guys these old gardeners - no need for the gym after lifting these. The glasshouse was traditionally used for melons and cucumber. Some of the frames or pits, as they were called, were used for growing pineapples, once regarded as the king of fruits. This skilled exercise involved heating with fermenting stable manure. Resurrecting this practice has been challenging, partly because of the need for large quantities of fresh manure! The yard also contains a toolshed, the original potting shed and the 'Thunderbox', the gardener's original toilet, complete with names scrawled on the wall.
|The melon house and pineapple pits - poor pic - such a dull day!|
|Heligan melons - internet pic - growth much slower this year!|
|Heligan pineapples maturing - internet pic|
|Frames for early vegetables and seedling production|
|Just look at the size and imagine the weight of these 'English lights'|
|The potting shed|
A further walled area, known as the flower garden is a sheltered enclosure originally used for early vegetables as well as flowers and containing vineries, a citrus and a peach house. All of these were of course totally derelict until the 1990s. The glasshouses are of a type known as a Paxton patent house, a sort of 'flat-pack' greenhouse to a standard design that was assembled on site. These greenhouses have been faithfully reconstructed and are once again in use. The adjacent boiler house still contains the original cast iron Britannia boiler, dug out from years of accumulated rubbish, not surprisingly defunct but the cast iron piping is still present. The same building houses the Head Gardener's office. He must have been very cosy, not only having the heat from the boiler but also his own wood burning stove!
|The Flower garden and its greenhouses|
|The flower garden and citrus House|
|The vinery - typical Paxton house|
|Inside the vinery|
|Cast iron heating grilles|
|The original Britannia Boiler|
|Head gardener's Office|
|Inside the peach house|
|The Pencalenick Greenhouse - from elsewhere - authentic Victorian but not a restoration, complete with 19C pelargoniums|
Beyond the walled gardens there are the wider ornamental gardens with a huge collection of mature trees, immense rhododendrons and vast camellias all of which were disentangled from years of bramble, sycamore and other weed growth. Specific areas include the Italian Garden, the Ravine, New Zealand and the North Summerhouse. The Sundial Garden seemed rather in need of attention, with rather poor planting competing with a lot of weed. The rhododendrons had finished flowering but it was still impressive to see the size of some of these monster plants. Amazing to realise that some had been growing here since first imported as new introductions from Joseph Hooker's Himalayan travels in the 1850's. The collection has been documented and by means of micro-propagation has been secured for the future.
|Typical pathway under 19C rhododendrons|
|Rhododendrons on the West Lawn|
|What a sight they must be when in bloom - just an internet pic for a taste of colour|