A Birthday Weekend in Cornwall | The Lost Gardens of Heligan and Eden Project
October 10, 2016
On Sunday morning we packed up my new picnic basket with lots of delicious breakfast bits and pieces for us both to eat, whilst taking in the glorious Cornish coastline at Constantine Bay. Our plan to wake up super early and make our way over to the beach didn’t quite happen but, when we arrived at about 10am, we were pleasantly surprised to see that we were one of the very few people occupying the serene shores.
We claimed our spot below the sand dunes, just to the left of a huge cluster of rocks, which were calling out to be climbed and explored. After devouring a cinnamon roll and banana, we set off to find out what secrets were lurking behind each rock… and to get a better view of the tumultuous sea as its waves crashed amongst them.
Kieran quickly made his way to the top of the rock formation, whereas I chose to remain somewhat lower down to soak in my surroundings. That’s not to say I didn’t end up getting wet as an unsuspected wave crashed amongst the rock I was shamelessly posing against, which sprayed both Kieran and I (and luckily not my camera as he swiftly safeguarded it in time!). Well, let’s just say it was a refreshing morning!
THE LOST GARDENS OF HELIGAN
After configuring the SatNav to lead us to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Pentewan, we excitedly began our short road trip to this beautifully vast expanse of restored garden, which has a fascinating history. All 1,000 acres of this stunning garden, which was in it’s prime during the end of the nineteenth century, became overgrown and was eventually concealed during the outbreak of WW1 as the estates’ workforce left the grounds to fight.
However, it has since returned to its former glory. After the discovery of a derelict room concealed by fallen masonry by Tim Smit and John Willis in 1990, a complete restoration took place over the following years. The garden now boasts an array of awards and, after touring it’s grounds ourselves, it’s easy to see why.
We spotted some cute piggies, as well as spying the famous Sleeping Lady grass sculpture, as we made our way through the entrance and began our trail around the grounds to discover more vintage gems… of that which there are plenty.
Whilst all of the gardens are undeniably unique, I have to say that the Thunderbox Room and Victorian Productive Gardens were my absolute favourite spots, which are working memorials to it’s lost gardeners. As a slight vintage nerd, I loved having a brief glance into how such a wonderful garden would have operated and been maintained in this bygone era.
As the afternoon drew on, we headed over to the Eden Project to get a closer glimpse at some exotic plants in their two Mediterranean and Rainforest biomes… as well as grab a bite to eat, of course!
I remember visiting this wonderful educational charity project over 10 years ago in my first year of secondary school (yikes), but was eager to refresh my memory and scope out some new features. We first made our way around the Mediterranean biome, which includes plant species from the likes of California, Spain, Morocco and more. As an olive lover, I was intrigued to learn all about their origins and health benefits, as well as find out more about my favourite herb; lavender.
Here, we stopped off for late lunch at their cafe. I went for gnocchi, with Kieran opting for a pizza, which got a thumbs up from us both. The setting was also lovely, with decor replicating the style of an authentic al fresco Italian restaurant. I felt like I was on holiday!
We then made our way over to the Rainforest biome. Let’s just say I was glad I wore a vest top! The humid heat wasn’t exactly stifling, but we were pretty pleased to see regular “cool rooms” dotted around the site. Kieran definitely regretted his leather jacket!
Walking between the trees on their Canopy Walkway, we discovered some beautiful botanical species from the Tropical Islands, Southeast Asia, West Africa and Tropical South America. Not only did we spot lots of tropical produce such as bananas, cocoa, nuts and spices, but we also came across many realistic scenes with a true to life Malaysian hut, bamboo houses, stalls and more to get an insight into the varying tropical lifestyles across the globe. We also came face to face with roul-roul partridges and Sulawesi white-eye birds!
During our visit, we learnt that the Eden Project are currently working on installing a new “Weather Maker” – which will create clouds and tropical rain storms within the biome – to showcase the importance of rainforests’ impact and role on controlling climate change. This all sounded so exciting to me and, once work is completed, I know I’ll be eager to revisit yet again… not that I really need an excuse!
We then bid our goodbyes to Cornwall and prepared for the bum numbing four hour car journey home. That being said, the trip itself was worth it to take in the stunning sights and beautiful botanicals, as well as meet some lovely people along the way. Until next time, I’ll leave you with the above quote, which I captured on our walk around the Rainforest biome and felt summed up the things I’d learnt on this wonderful short trip.
“We did not weave the web of life, we are merely strands in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.” – Chief Seattle, 1854.