01 April 2007


My friend and colleague has purchased a new house! Well it is an old house, but it's new to her. It's a coach house that was converted in the 1960s into family home and it would appear to have not been touched since! She certainly has a project on her hands but there is definite potential!

I've been helping her with the process - the garden is one area where we could get started without the architect's drawings and indeed any money! With my well recognised joy of destruction (National Trust Conservation Volunteers are good for something!!) I was very keen to tackle what should probably be referred to as the jungle and not a garden. I have spent 2 days in glorious spring sunshine, chopping, lopping, pulling and tugging and progress is being made. It's like a chapter in one of my favourite children's books - The Secret Garden - last week we managed to clear the blackberries away from the greenhouse door and peer inside, and uncovered a pergola in the corner, this week we were tackling the ivy growing along the garden wall and uncovered the garden gate for the first time in years. However, the garden gate has obviously deteriorated over the years (see photo)!!

But the garden is becoming less of a secret. It is exciting and reminds me of the most fabulous gardens that I ever visited, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, an amazing restoration project in Cornwall.

In the late 19th century the Tremayne family had one of the most spectacular gardens in England, over 1000 acres, tended to by a horde of gardeners, but war a mere 15 years later, led to the decline of the gardens which lay untouched and unloved until a chance finding in the 1990s led to a massive restoration project of the type unseen in the UK before. The ivy and the brambles were cleared and the gardens restored to their Victorian splendour - a herculean task, that became an obsession. Suffice to say, the gardens are no longer "lost" but one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cornwall, with their vegetable gardens, home to many exotic species including peaches, the herb gardens and the "Pleasure Grounds" - the New Zealand garden, the Italian garden, the jungle and the Lost Valley. Stepping into the jungle is like stepping back in time - the primeval tree ferns, and the leaves glistening with dew, the sound of bubbling brooks and birds in the trees and you could almost expect a dinosaur to emerge.....


sal said...

That looks like a fab project, just think of all the secrets too uncover I loved Heligan too, we went 2 years ago and the veg. garden there really inspired me, the Eden project's another well worth a visit down there!

Ali said...

What a dream project. I love Heligan too - it's got such an incredible atmosphere.