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The Forgotten Gardens of Heligan


Ghostly birds and flowers make up this old English garden that will remind you of a forgotten age.

Heligan is one of the most mysterious gardens in England. A paradise lost (and found) that slept for decades under the heavy blanket of ivy and berry bushes until 1990, when the discovery of a small underground room within it conspired to wake it up to the splendor it had before World War I. One of the granite walls in the small room there was a carved message: “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber”, followed by the names of a few soldiers and the date: August 1914. Since then, the descendants of Tremayne (the old owners of Heligan) have been devoted to revive this forgotten English garden that, like many soldiers, had taken refuge from war by means of camouflage.

The Heligan garden has thus been rescued from the wild growth of the forest in Cornwall (which is, by the way, one of the most mystical and literary counties of England). But beyond the splendor of this flowery jungle, Heligan is not just any English garden; there is a particular sweetness to it, perhaps due to its years of secrecy and decadence. Today it is also a refuge for a number of animal species, from wolves and deer to foxes and snakes, and especially to many magnificent species of birds.

Magpies, for example, known for their serious superstitious implications, are abundant in Heligan––It is said that if you don’t greet a magpie when you first see it, it will bring sadness into your life. The raven covers the gardens with darkness and intelligence, and the white owl, contrasting with the raven, can be seen somewhere in nearly every tree.

The lost gardens of Heligan, after the “restoration of the century” finished in 1990, continue to give out a halo of antiquity and enigma that sets it apart from other geographical paradises. Its birds know its history, having long held watch over the paths and trees and kept strict guard over the motto: “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber”.

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