February 16th 1990 was a fateful day for Tim Smit.
That was the day he and John Willis first
explored the decades of tangled overgrowth and melancholic ruins that was then
As he says in his enthralling book "In Retrospect it was a day that was to change
our lives". There were rumours that half of the village of Mevagissey, Cornwall
had been conceived amongst the palms and bamboos of an overgrown tropical
valley which connected the fishing village with Heligan House and it's
grounds. Tales of temples and mosaic floors found by poachers abounded.
That discription of their first exploration; crawling on hands and knees
through massive, overgrown laurel hedges and the "ship wreck" ruins of
glasshouses, is our first introduction to this marvolous tale of
rebirth against all the odds. A story to touch the hearts of all gardeners
and those who dream of finding hidden treasure, adventure and lost worlds.
It is also a delicious serving of several hundred years of the
Tremayne family's history and the
history of gardening in England and the world, encompassing the
golden age of botanical exploration and discovery of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Best of all it is a darn good read that takes you from those first, faltering
steps back in 1990 to Heligan Gardens' present day success.