Garden Portrait: The Lost Gardens of Heligan Part II

The second part of this walk in The Lost Gardens of Heligan starts with the sheltered Woodland Walk where we will discover the mud sculptures of  The Giant’s Head and Mud Maid, and the more recent Grey Lady.

The Woodland Walk begins outside the ticket office and is a pleasant and fairly level walk past the sculptures.


In 1998 Cornish artists Sue and Pete Hill were commissioned by Heligan to create two imaginative living sculptures along Woodland Walk. Wanting to use an enormous tree stump exposed following the Great Storm of 1990 it became the skull of the sculpture. Mind Your Own Business was planted for the skin and Montbretia is used for the spiky hair. His eyes are chips of china and glass found on site.

Continue down the pathway dappled in the sunshine to find the Mud Maid (above) and the Grey Lady. A much less substantial presence as she hides amongst the trees, planted with wild roses, to give an evocative fairy-tale look. The Grey Lady was named after a myth about a mysterious grey figure who was seen disappearing away from the main house.

The Mud Maid has a custom built hollow timber framework and windbreak netting. Her hands and face are a mixture of mud, cement and sand originally coated in yoghurt to set lichens growing. Her head is planted with Woodsedge and Montbretia and ivy has been trained to clothe her. In late spring when the trees are fully in leaf, shafts of sunlight strike drifts of bluebells and the birdsong lulls her to sleep. (from the sculpture information plaques)

At the end of the Woodland Walk where you will find the Grey Lady, the path divides, continuing to the Jungle or right along Georgian Ride to the Lost Valley. Not having time to do everything in one day, we opted for the Jungle.

The Grey Lady

At the junction there is a marvellous view of Mevagissey and the sea and  the sign for the Georgian Ride, which had absolutely no influence on our decision.


Anyway, the Jungle was a good choice. Created in a steep-sided south-facing valley garden you find a riot of luscious, exotic and architectural plantings from around the world. A raised boardwalk leads around four ponds, under tree ferns, giant rhubarb, bananas and towering palms.  Source: Heligan leaflet and website

(click on an image to scroll through the gallery)

Leaving the Jungle with time running out before the gardens closed we continued past the East Lawn, around the Steward’s House where there is another tea-room, sadly closed at this time, and back into the main gardens to the exit.

I hope you have enjoyed this walk. And if you enjoy walking, whether in a garden or alongside a river, or by the coast then join Jo’s Monday Walks where you are in for further treats, or where you can share your walk with us.

Click here to see the first part of this walk.

37 thoughts on “Garden Portrait: The Lost Gardens of Heligan Part II

  1. Reblogged this on Under a Cornish Sky and commented:

    And so to the second part of my Lost Gardens in Heligan post. Hard to believe this was almost 4 years ago as it is still fresh in my memory. Seeing the glorious Giant’ s Head sculpture before Christmas reminded me once again that I still need to visit when the montbretia (hair) is in flower. So I definitely need a re-visit in August! Enjoy the walk around this delightful garden on this very blustery, damp and misty January day.

  2. Pure magic I envy you being able to go back and back to this gorgeous place. Your photos make me want to hop on a plane and come over NOW to see and experience it for myself

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