The Lost Gardens of Heligan celebrates 21 years out of hiding

The Lost Gardens of Heligan spent decades veiled by bramble and ivy. This year the restored estate celebrates 21 years out of hiding


This year marks 21 years since the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall were rediscovered. After a hurricane in the 1990s, the hidden plot was revealed beneath a veil of bramble and ivy.


The Heligan manor was first built in the 1200s as home to the Tremayne family. The estate was developed from 1766, when the walls of the flower garden were built, to 1907, when the Italian garden was put in place. However, throughout the early 20th century bramble and ivy covered the thousand acres and after decades of neglect the gardens were almost completely concealed.

The derelict gardens were discovered by Tim Smit and John Willis who were inspired by a motto carved into a limestone wall, which still reads “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber” with the workers names signed underneath and the date – August 1914.

By 1991, planning permission was given to open to the public. Since then, work on the grounds has continued through an established team at Heligan and the garden has received numerous awards for restoration.

The focus of the team is to continue working with nature and protecting habitats around the estate. Lorna Tremayne is Marketing Manager at Heligan. “There is still ongoing restoration and maintainance to be done. Amazingly, even 21yrs on, we keep discovering new things about the estate, she said.

“At the moment, the scented garden, is being completly remodelled to mirror the sundial garden but overall the gardens are as fully restored as we would hope them to be.”


An event is being held to mark the occasion: The Lost Gardens 21st Anniversary Gardening Celebration