Posted by: Natalie | February 28, 2010

The Hanging Gardens of Heligan

Ok, so they’re not biblical or hanging, but it just sounded right! Plus it was a what Steve keeps calling them. Last summer, not that the weather knew it was summer, Steve and I went to Cornwall for our hols. I love Cornwall, is so beautiful and inspirational. There is nothing like the British coast to almost literally blow out the brain cobwebs; waves crashing loudly against the cliffs with the wind/sun/rain or all three at once, lightening your day.

Often when I think of myself writing, I picture myself in a small coast side cottage on a winters day, wrapped in cable knit sweaters with a steaming hot mug of cocoa. The sky is purple and stormy with the waves raging, vying to be heard over the crackle of a log fire. Blue rain spatters the window pane as I look out to sea, cocoa steam rising into my vision, beyond which I can see a small fishing boat being tossed about. The cottage is fairly bare, open floor boards and a wrought iron range, a kettle gently steaming on the stove. A big wing backed chair by the fire is home to the laptop I have put down in order to absorb the elements battling outside. I love this image. I have no idea why this creeps into my head, but it does and it is a happy one. This is what Cornwall does to me.

I want me some Gunnera

One of the places we visited was the Lost Gardens of Heligan. If you have never been, I urge you to! It is a wonderful place, even in torrential rain – actually if anything, it improves the ‘jungle’ area.For inspiration for writing, drawing and general creativeness, this place has it in abundance. Giant Rhubarb, Gunnera, grows in to tremendous sizes in just one season; monkey puzzle trees and ancient undergrowth entrance and mesmerise around every corner; the sound of rippling water, mixed with the tip tap of the rain, make it a truly magical place – you feel almost as if you have stepped back in time to when life began. It is incredible.

There are different types of garden at Heligan, the jungle being just a small section. There are the obvious ornamental gardens, vegetable gardens, trails and walks. You can easily spend an entire day there in fine weather – plus the cafe and gift shop are quite fantastic! And reasonably priced!! But my other favourite section was a walk way you go through near the entrance. Here they have ‘living’ sculptures which you have to really look for in places. They are so clever and ingenious, they really give the place an air of mystery and magic. They are also being written as children’s stories to raise money for more regeneration of the gardens:

The Giant's Head

It is a truly inspiring place. But as are many other places in Cornwall. There is a reason why authors like to go there to write, or devote many pages of their own imagination to the inspiration that this mystical county provides. Michael Morpurgo sets many of his books and stories around the Cornish coast, Daphne Du Maurier paints the landscape vividly and do I need to mention the countless pieces written about King Arthur and Tintagel?!

The Mud Maid

Rocks in Tintagel Cove

The Old Post Office, Tintagel

There is so much to see, so much inspiration to glean from this intoxicating place. I adore it. I could quite happily spend holiday after holiday soaking up all the nature and culture that the south of our country has to offer. And maybe, hopefully, one day I can find that little cottage of my dreams and use the inspiration of those crashing waves and that incredible sea air, to aid my writing; to produce something that is worthy of the grandeur of its surroundings. (The Website is fab!)



  1. […] once wrote a post, The Hanging Gardens of Heligan, which detailed this visit and how inspired I was. It was as if in some other life I had been one […]

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