Latest Lost Gardens of Heligan addition designed to educate visitors about the estate's work

The Lost Gardens of Heligan is celebrating 25 years since its resurrection by opening a new educational barn.

Heligan’s longest serving staff  (l-r) Crowle, Candy Smit, Giles, Tim Smit, Stephens and Burns. Image: LGoH
Heligan’s longest serving staff (l-r) Crowle, Candy Smit, Giles, Tim Smit, Stephens and Burns. Image: LGoH

The facility, called simply The Barn, was opened yesterday by Lost Gardens designer Tim Smit, with the help of the gardens’ longest-serving staff: Mary Crowle, Candy Smit, Janet Giles, Rachael Stephens and Dave Burns.

The agricultural space is designed to enable visitors to learn more about the important work that is carried out across the estate. As well as horticultural wonders, it has traditional and rare breed livestock and is managed using sustainable low intensity techniques practiced locally for centuries.

The 81-hectare Lost Gardens has welcomed 5.7 million visitors and contributed £660 million to the Cornwall economy since it opened to the public in 1992.

The Cornwall gardens were literally found after being abandoned and overgrown in 1990 by Smit and Tremayne family descendant John Willis.

Tim Smit and John Nelson in the garden in 1991. Image: David Hastilow

They had been abandoned after the First World War claimed the lives of nine of the 13 gardeners who had worked there, all of whom had downed tools to go and fight.

Managing director George Elworthy says: "Heligan is different to most garden restorations. It is a living, breathing entity and not just a museum piece. It continues to thrive and evolve in remembrance of the gardeners whose lives were cut short when they left to go to war."

Recent additions at Heligan include the Mud Maid, the Giant's Head and the subtropical jungle, now home to a 100ft-long Burmese rope which stretches across the ancient tree-lined canopy. They sit alongside finds, such as the historic pineapple pit that today is Europe’s only remaining working, manure heated pit. 

The estate also has variety of traditional and rare breed livestock and is managed using sustainable low intensity techniques practiced locally for centuries. Visitors can see Highland cattle, White Parks, Devon and Cornwall Longwool sheep, foraging Tamworth pigs, traditional breeds of poultry and nature meadows.


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